The Chronicles of Valana Volume 1: Shadowlands

by AB

Chapter 5

Unto the Elves

Two shall guard the prophecy, two shall remember of what was before prophesy.

One of the Fairfolk, one of the Speakers. Two shall remember of offspring of Speaker and Fairfolk.

All shall forget of what was, all shall remember when offspring is told of what was.

Aer'andil's double picked up a bow from one of the dead soldiers and headed back to where the rest of the company were.

They were panting but they were all alive and well except for some minor cuts and bruises.

He smiled at them.

Merol didn't like fighting in the darkness, it also didn't help that it was narrow. He could hear the tip of his sword clashing against the rock. Lucas' own blades were happily slicing through it just as easily as it sliced the oncoming hooded figures that assaulted them. He tried to reach for his runes, but his pack was gone. P robably torn off in the chaos. Darkness it will have to be then.

"Everyone alright?" The double asked and Merol noticed that they were no longer being attacked.

"I'm fine," Merol replied. The kid was asking if 'he' was all right. "Where's Lucas?"

"I'm here." Lucas said rubbing his arm walking over to them. "I'd be dead if didn't have these swords."

Merol nodded and looked about as to ascertain which way to take in the fork ahead.

"What about the twins?" Lucas asked.

There was a snap of air and then a "We're here." Beck said grinning. They weren't even dirty. "The air down here is foul" Beck wrinkled his nose.

"Too foul. L ike something is here that shouldn't be." Drake nodded. His eyes met Aer'andil's.

Lucas realised it then. "Marco?" He asked looking at his friend. His posture was all wrong. It was casual and relaxed but wrongly so. Lucas knew that when standing still Marco would put his weight on his right foot. Marco was now evenly balanced and his casual expression was miss ing the warm glow that he knew. It was hard to explain, but Marco was different and not just because he was elf. "Are you okay? You look a bit peaky."

Merol looked at the exchange. "Beck, what do you see?" He look ed meaningfully at the twin closest to Aer'andil.

"I see Marco. P erfect in every way." Beck smiled.

Merol nodded. He knew the code. Beck never saw perfection i n anyone; he always saw a weakness to exploit. "So, Marco." Merol pushed some of his white hair out of his eyes. "Before we landed down here, you were about to tell us that amusing story of what you did yesterday. You started saying it was something to do with that cow we found." Merol smiled in a jovial way, his hand close to his sword's hilt.

Aer'andil didn't know where he was or what hour of the day it was. He was inside a mouldy, wet, dripping dungeon when he woke up and he had no idea how much time had passed since the battle in the caverns.

He tried to get up and he heard a metallic sound coming from his legs. He looked down and saw his legs bound toge ther and chained to the wall behind him by a large, thick chain and manacles on his legs and hands.

He tried to rise but his hands and feet were manacled. The manacles were attached to the wall by a heavy chain and he found it impossible to do so.

He looked around the dark room. There was a door on the other but no windows.

"Why capture me and not kill me instead?" He thought as he heard footsteps outside the door.

A man entered clad in chainmail, wearing a helmet on his head. He stood next to the door as another man wearing a dark hood entered and walked calmly to wards him, the crest of a sword flanked by wings emblazoned on the black armour of his breastplate.

Aer'andil extended his hand, "Sala…" he tried to do the only air magic he knew but he instantly felt a sharp, excruciating pain around his neck that shot to his brain. He clutched his neck and fell to the floor crying.

The man laughed as if he had heard a joke. He grabbed Aer'andil's hair and pulled him up and threw him on the bed.

"My name's Gilthian, I am one of the seven Generals of Zah Dah and your worst nightmare. It is pointless to try and use magic, the collar around your neck will prevent you. Resistance i s futile. You WILL tell me what I want to know."

Aer'andil reached instinctively for his bow but it was not on his shoulder. Gilthian laughed again and slapped him hard across his face.

"Do you think me stupid, Boy? You think I would leave your bow or dagger on you?" Gilthian told him as he slapped him again.

"What is your name?"

"Marco…" He was interrupted as he was slapped again.

"Your REAL name, Boy!"

"DON'T TELL HIM!!" His spirit screamed at him in, what could only be described as, despair. "WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT TELL HIM!!!"

"I…I don't know what you're talk…" He was slapped again.

"Do not lie to me, Boy!" Gilthian produced Aer'andil's bow from his back and held it in front of him.

"Do not lie to me boy or I'll break this!" Gilthian said as he punched his face.

"I am not! I don't…" This time Gilthian did not punch him, instead he bent the bow until it broke in to two pieces. Aer'andil screamed and then glared at him and spat blood on the floor but said not a word. He just looked at Gilthian defiantly.

Gilthian squeezed his neck until he could barely breathe. He raised him from the bed as if he weighted nothing more than a feather and threw him across the room. Aer'andil smashed against the wall and fell to the floor unconscious.

"Are you okay? You look a bit peaky." Lucas said.

He looked at the boy and smiled, "Yeah sure, just winded from the battle, and my bow broke, I had to defend myself…" Then he heard two others talking, the man called Merol and one of the twins.

"So, Marco. Before we landed down here, you was about to tell us that amusing story of what you did yesterday. You started saying it was something to do with that cow we found." Merol said to him. He looked at the man and knew it was some kind of test.

He turned to the man and thought for a moment, he remembered the original's memories, "No…I did not…I was pretty silent, thinking about what my spirit had told me a few nights ago, then the ground fell under our feet, I screamed if anyone was alive and a few hours after that we were attacked…" He kicked one of the bodies of the fallen enemy, "Fucking morons broke my bow!"

Merol nodded. Something was still off though. "We should be moving."

Lucas knew what Merol was thinking, he could see it in the man's eyes. He recognised that expression. He had the same pensive narrow eyed look of suspicion, or so he had been told.

"Hey Marco." Lucas tried to sound casual, he wasn't sure if he managed it or not. "I'm glad you're here." He leaned into his friend and whispered, "Kiss me, like you did before." He grinned.

"Listen to my voice Aer'andil. L et go of the pain!" He heard his spirit speak to him. He knew not how much time had passed, only that every inch of his body hurt and it hurt so much that his brain had begun not to register it. Something was sticking out of his belly button. I n his blurry vision he could only see it as a black rod that emanated some kind of dark glow.

"Pain? What pa…" His thoughts were interrupted as he felt a sharp, excruciating pain across his lower body. Like something was cutting him and burning him at the same time across from his thigh to the base of his boyhood.

Someone was laughing and talking to him, asking questions.

He heard himself scream at the top of his lungs.

"Ignore the pain Aer'andil, listen to my voice and nothing else!" His spirit said as he felt more mind searing pain. He screamed and cried for dear life.

"Let the pain go, it is only in your body. L et your body go. Let it fly through the skies like in your dream and the pain will go!"

He tried and tried but the pain was just too much. He could hear someone ask him questions constantly.


"LIES!" Gilthian said and twisted something inside him, tearing at his skin.

"No, do not answer him listen only to my voice and nothing else!!" His spirit said to him.

He tried his best to concentrate on that voice.

For a few moments, the pain dulled but then returned tenfold.

He fainted again.

"Sorry…not in the mood at the moment…we do need to get out of these caves…" He said and stared walking.

Lucas raised his eyebrows and flapped his hands.

"You are being a jerk." Lucas said and walked away from him. "You are not the person I knew. Stay away from me."

Lucas glanced up at Merol as if so say, 'Try this'. He wasn't angry, but he was baiting Marco.

"Aww, Lucas can't have a kissy wissy because Marcey whiley can't get it up." Beck laughed.

Merol laughed, he actually laughed. "Marco is always horny perhaps he is having a problem. Maybe we can see a doctor."

"No I am just fine, just not in a mood to kiss right now."

"Where's the other twin...Beck or Drake...They look the same." Lucas said looking about in the gloom.

"He'll catch up." Beck told him.

Drake glanced across the mountains as he walked, naked on of the the snow. He could feel magic pulsating in the air. He knew it well and this was not an easy magic to muster. He could almost sense where the magic was leading. Had he been in his true form it would have been easy.

He looked out over the mountains. They didn't have far to go, and hopefully they would actually survive this trek and get to the settlement of Yridrial where they could catch the boat.

He caught a glint of light bouncing off metallic buckles. It was Merol's rune pack. He couldn't take the pack to him as it wouldn't travel through the rock. Instead he placed it into a bush. He could retrieve it later. He could travel much faster through the air than on foot.

As he picked up the pack a run e slipped out. It was the rune for quicksilver. He picked it up and went to slide it back into the bag and he felt a familiar at then nape of his neck. He looked at the rune. The spirits had just sent him a message. They couldn't speak to him, he was banished, but they had sent something to him. This rune.

Drake gasped with sudden realisation. Marco wasn't a normal imposter, he was quicksilver! He shivered at the dark magic used to conjure forth this magical apparition.

He dove through the rock, desperate to get to Merol before something bad started.

Aer'andil woke up in his dungeon cell, well hole. He tried to stand up but he groaned in agony and lay back in his bed.

Men came and took him. They bound him in another room with chains from the ceiling.

Then, that same dark hooded man came in and laid a folded leather bundle on a table. He unstrapped it and started unfolding it.

When he had finished unwrapping it, he saw various tools and knives arranged neatly in it.

"Concentrate only on my voice Aer'andil or you will not survive this. H ave courage your pain soon comes to an end!" His spirit spoke to him.

He closed his eyes and concentrated on his spirit. He felt pain but it was greatly dulled by his concentration on his spirit.

The "interrogation" went on until he could utter no more words, not that he told them anything.

He was thrown in his cell. He didn't know how much time had passed since he had had any food or sleep. They did not allow him much of either.

The double looked at them. They knew, somehow they knew…those two twins…they were not normal human children. He could sense them.

"The Mission can be completed without you five." He said and took the dagger out of its sheath. He jumped for Lucas' exposed back.

Merol was ready for something like this. He shoved Lucas into Beck who dragged him out of the way.

"You wanna be far away from this," Beck said as he pulled Lucas away.

Merol came around a full turn with his sword in his hand. He reached his mind out, seeking and calling for nearby spirits. His mind found few willing spirits this deep underground. He would have to fight this out on his own until they arrived.

Merol swung his sword in the direction of the fake boy.

The imposter didn't even try to avoid the sword. He laughed an eerie sound and plunged through the sword, cutting himself in two only to "glue" himself back together as he stepped sideways, melted into the ground, and lost Aer'andil's characteristics entirely. He appeared behind Merol and made a stabbing motion straight for the man's spine.

Aer'andil was almost delirious and the only thing that kept him going was the warmth and love he felt emanating from his spirit.

The need to surrender though was growing inside him, to lie down and surrender to the sweet embrace of death. Yet he held on to his spirit with all the strength he had left.

Merol felt his sword hit the imposter then watched in horror as the blade slipped through the flesh and weld ed itself back together, like two molten halves of a sword being merged back as one.

"Merol!" Drake bellowed.

Merol turned and felt a pain i n his side, the blade that was heading towards his spine missed, but sliced along his flank.

"Quicksilver!" Drake bellowed again.

"The slippery shit." Merol growled. "If I had my pack you'd be dead in a second, you impudent little demon." He spat out into the air.

"Oh, get ready." Beck said as he pulled Lucas and Micraal even further back, grinning expectantly.

Merol gripped his sword with his right hand and placed his left hand along the blade edge. "Spiritu Ardoris" He said softly into the air.

It wasn't a time to seek the aid of the spirits. This was the time to demand the presence of one. He rarely used his ability to summon an elemental spirit from the other lands, but this time, the deed could be justified.

The air seemed to be sucked out of the tunnel and it got stifling hot for a moment. A roaring sound was heard from deep inside, an d an orange light head ed towards them. As the glow got closer, they could see that the shape was reminiscent of a flaming bird, filling the entire space with flame.

"Here. We. Go." Beck said as he disappeared. He had turned into vapour, shielding the two boys from the fire that seemed to explode into the cavern, setting everything alight.

Merol stood amongst the thick flames but they seemed to just flutter over his skin harmlessly. In truth, the flames will not harm the one who summons them.

Before the shadow Marco could even jump to avoid the next move, he saw the fire elemental come. He had no waYout of the caverns…the heat intensified until he melted into the floor and begun to vaporize…the shadow spirit inside him vulnerable to the world.

Merol's sword drove through it and in a wail of evil and malice, it was dead and gone.

Many an interrogation later, Aer'andil lay again on the table that had been the site of his torture, used to torture him. Gilthian had just finished, for th e time being.

"You have not answered a single question you insolent little brat…but it matters not…later on I shall rape you and then transport you by means of magic to Zah Dah…you will speak to my master in his fortress of death before he rapes and kills you. HAHAHAHAHHA!"

He was thrown back in to his cell.

"Can you hear me Aer'andil? I am using the last of my strength to bypass the collar around your neck…you must listen to me."

Aer'andil tried his best to concentrate on the spirit's "voice" as he spat blood on to the cell floor. He hugged himself around his ribs tight and curled up into the fetal position. His tears all dried and unable to produce more.

Never in his life had he felt as much pain as in the last few days or however long had passed since his capture.

"I…I…can't do this anymore…I…I…just want to die…"

"You won't have to my nephew…I am sorry you had to go through this much pain but I had to concentrate all my powers, all my strength for what is going to happen next…"

"My…my uncle? No…how? Why?"

"As I said before, it is not for me to say…but I can tell you this Aer'andil…I am both very proud to have you as my nephew and very happy to have met you even. I am afraid I must die now…"

"NO! Why!?"

"That thing around your neck…you cannot remove it…in fact the only persons that can, without killing you, are that…creature that has been torturing you…and his master. Aside from them, only one more power can do so, the willing self-sacrifice of a higher spirit. I t can release as much energy as is required to break the collar without allowing it to pass the deadly magic into your blood…so I must die. Tell…tell my brother…that he needs to forgive himself…for not killing my son when he needed to…and that I will always be grateful for the effort he made to save him. Tell him that I am sorry…for bringing this monstrosity to Valana. I love you like my own son Aer'andil, my name is Elrian Lavalas and I am proud to have been your uncle!"

Then to Aer'andil's great dismay, everything went completely silent.

"They should be out of those caves by now…" Elrian Lavalas thought as he searched for them. "It has been almost two weeks since they killed off the imposter.

A few dozen kilometers away Elrian Lavalas found what he was looking for. He identified Merol and spoke to him.

"Hear me Elduhost Merol, for I am Aer'andil's spirit. I know you have not many reasons to trust me after your experience with the imposter, but you must. My name is Elrian Lavalas. If you recognise the name and the lineage behind it you must tell nothing to Marco, as you call him, it is for the guardian of the prophesy to tell him. My nephew Aer'andil is at the Fedria castle ruins, I must sacrifice myself so that he is not raped and sent to Zah Dah. If he were to be sent there, he would never recover.

"My sacrifice, though, means that my nephew will be a spiritless elf and that means he has only three days to live. Three days of excruciating pain throughout his body and mind. You must hurry to him. You must go directly to Qazameria as the eagle flies. King Lados will know what to do. It has been an honour to meet you, even from within Aer'andil. I understand why the High-King of the Elves agreed to allow you to be raised amongst us. Why he agreed to take you under his wing. I know that with you, my nephew is safe. You are a good man Elduhost Merol, may you live a long and prosperous life and die an honorable death when your time comes…"

The spirit went quiet for a few seconds before speaking again.

"You may all want to avert your eyes from the direction of the coast and cover your is going to be rather…bright and loud…" He said.

"Everyone close your eyes and ears!" Merol yelled as he took Micraal and Lucas behind him and sheltered them from what he knew was coming. He could feel it in the air.

Seconds later, Aer'andil arched his spine backwards as his spirit erupted from inside him. A pillar of clear, concentrated green light erupted from the ruins of Fedria castle. Everyone saw it from kilometers away, from Rodania to Gel'anr. All who could feel the spirit world, Elves, and speakers felt the willing anguish of Aer'andil's spirit as every particle of air and vapour exploded, sending shockwaves for miles in every direction. T he pillar of light penetrated the clouds and pushed them aside before forming a dome of pulsating green light. Then, as the atmosphere pushed in on it, it formed a double mushroom, green, sad and somehow peaceful. Then it too fragmented in to smaller explosions sending shockwaves across the landscape.

The collar around Aer'andil's neck, the castle ruins, everyone inside it except Gilthian, who transported away when he felt the magical energy building up, and a few kilometers around the ruins instantly evaporated. T he ground shook and trembled, trees fell but Merol and the rest of them were far away and safe.

Seconds later after the blinding light a wave of sound smashed at them.

The light disappeared leaving behind patches of ground and dust turned to glass from the intense heat. Where the castle ruins had stood, a crater had now appear ed with Aer'andil in its centre. For kilometers around the castle, all was dead, disintegrated in the explosion. The ground was scrubbed white. C lean groupings of glass structures do t ting the environment.

Aer'andil was delirious as he tried to crawl away after the dust had settled. That he had felt pain before during the torture inflicted on him by Gilthian was nothing compared to the constant flood of pain he felt now rush ing throughout his body and mind. Ash had started to fall all around them. White, suffocating ash.

He tried standing but he fell, from the waves of pain, to the ground after only a few steps. He tried to crawl but he felt the paralysing pain all across his body.

He fell in to half-sleep, exhausted.

"Drake, go." Merol ordered to the boy. Drake knew what he had to do and in a second, he was blowing in the wind towards the sight of the fading light.

Drake raked across the landscape towards the light. He had to move fast, faster than he would usually go, not just travelling in the wind now, but also actually pushing the wind.

"Merol?" Beck said, his voice showing concern.

"He'll be okay." Merol replied, indicating Drake. The twins were never apart for long and Merol knew that separated they were emotionally vulnerable. Drake would struggle, but he had his task to focus on. "We will meet up with them soon; it looks like it's in the direction we are going. We'll get some horses at the inn on the way, but we must make haste."

Drake was exhausted, his body screamed at him to stop, but he carried on in spirit form until he saw his target. This form finally failed him. He had held it too long and he plummeted to the ground, rolling and scattering soot and dirt.

"Argh," Drake got up and checked his body for break s. He was okay and he could already feel his spirit energy returning. He looked over at Aer'andil, the boy left alone inside a white crater.

"For the sake of the Aeternae animus, what the hell have they done to you?" Drake looked over at the bloodied boy in pity. He placed his hand on the boy's head and his heart sunk...he felt no spirit.

"An elf without a spirit is no elf." He half whispered. "Poor Aer'andil." He felt sad for the boy, the spirit that had filled the boy was gone, his body starved for its symbiant spirit.

Drake sat back, at a loss as how to proceed. The boy was important according to Merol, and even the great spirit-slayer was risking his life for the boy. Was he really that special? Merol thought so.

He knew what he had to do. It could go horribly wrong. Any normal spirit would never try to bisect their life force as it meant the death of the spirit, and any spirit entering a spiritless elf would lose that spirit. Giving his whole spirit to the boy would not work, as Drake had to remain tied to his own body to maintain the sentence passed down from the elder spirits. A life-force split was the only way to proceed. Drake might die, Aer'andil might die; but he had to give both of them a chance to live if possible.

"Aer'andil." He said to the boy, not sure, if he could hear him. "I am going to try and ease your pain until the others come."

Drake placed one hand on the boy's forehead and the other on his heart. He started to emit a mist like aura that flowed along his arms and into Aer'andil's chest.

When Drake thought, about half had been transferred over, he pulled away and he slumped groggily onto the ground.

Aer'andil heard what thought to be Drake, speak to him as he regained consciousness, He felt the boy touch him and then he felt the boy's spirit…wait spirit. "Aren't humans spiritless" he thought?

His first instinct was that of "defend" but he had no strength to do so, so he just let go and allowed the spirit into his depths. He felt vulnerable and as alone as he had ever felt but the spirit was warm and friendly and was lending him some of his life force, for some reason he was not entering him like…like his uncle had.

As a portion of his strength returned to him, he reached out with his mind and probed the spirit, "engaged" with him as he had engaged with his uncle in meditation.

This spirit was older than his uncle but younger at the same time. At first, it did not make sense to him but then he understood it. His uncle had been much older when he had died and ascended, whereas this spirit was much younger, maybe only a child when he had done so, even if chronologically it had been before his uncle.

This spirit, in the shape of an orb, glowed violet. It was different to his uncle's, affectionate, controversial, mischievous but loyal. He liked him.

Then Drake pulled out and he felt alone again.

He opened his eyes, feeling better if only slightly. The excruciating pain was gone, but he still felt a constant ache everywhere and somehow he knew that he only had days to live if something did not change radically.

He smiled at Drake as his vision improved. He coughed and spoke with difficulty.

"Th…thank you…you…you and Beck…you aren't simple humans are you? Humans don't have spirits inside them, do they? I don't mind…I won't tell anyone…" He stopped speaking, the effort was too great, but he managed to raise his hand and caress the boy's cheek before falling asleep again.

On the Elven isle of Qazameria, dawn was just rising, the sun's gentle caressing tendrils waking Elf and nature alike.

King Lados was sleeping soundly in the arms of his young lover in his bed in the large Royal bedchamber, made of finely carved wood in shapes of grass and leaves. Qazameria C ity stood in the center of the island amidst fields of grass and flowers. Qazameria was by far the lowest lying of all the Elven isles, as horses do not need mountains or trees.

The island had two levels, as one quarter of the island stood twenty meters above the rest still flat but higher creating cliffs and a river that ran through the City creating a waterfall.

King Lados felt the anguish of a nature spirit blow the wind from his island. He jumped from bed and shook his lover from his peaceful, content slumber. Dressing as fast as they could, they run outside and towards the coast in their horse forms, they saw the fading explosion.

King Lados knew instantly what it was.

He looked anxiously at his lover's young face, "Hurry back to the city. T ell the court speaker to prepare the summoning circle and send my way three speakers and an open carriage with two horses, normal ones…"

"Why? What has happened?" His lover was younger than he …much younger in fact. King Lados was currently seven thousand years old. His boy lover was only five hundred he had only just begun transforming in to his stallion form.

"A spirit inside an elf has made the ultimate sacrifice to save his host from an inevitable fate of torment and/or death…a spiritless elf has only three days to live unless a speaker or a spirit lends him some of his life. And that will only postpone the inevitable death for so long. If we don't perform the embodiment ceremony within the circle…it is usually performed for newborn infants but now it will be used for this. GO! We don't have time to lose!"

"Yes my king!" The boy said, kissed him, transformed and galloped off in the morning mist.

"To the ferry port." King Lados thought and ran to the port, to await the elf speakers. If the elf's companions had half a mind, Qazameria would be their first port of call. It was the closest elf isle to their location.

His slick, long, black mane fluttered in the wind as he galloped at full speed, his hooves thundering against the rocky ground.

Merol and the others had paid for their horses promptly and had raced to the sight of the light as fast as the horses could gallop. It was still longer than Merol would have liked, and when they arrived they found both boys slumped against the rubble. Aer'andil was unconscious, or perhaps just asleep, but Lucas ran over to him while Beck ran over towards Drake.

"He's very weak." Beck said, cradling his brother in his arms.

"Marco," Lucas crouched down next to his oldest and best friend, taking his head in his hands, caressing his scarred cheeks. "Marco, talk to me, are you okay ? My god what have they done to you!?"

"We have to get to the ferry. The Elves will be expecting us and they will know what has happened here." Merol explained as he knelt down and inspected Aer'andil. "He has been given spirit power." He could sense it.

"I had to." Drake said softly. His face pale as death.

"I understand. I would have done the same." Beck said as he helped his brother up.

"Merol," Drake said as he struggled to his feet. "Your runes pack, on M ount Ironhorn, under a bush near the summit."

"It's okay Drake. I'll send someone from Qazameria to go and pick it up. They will, no doubt, send people over to investigate the battle area." Merol looked over Aer'andil quickly and decided to risk moving him. He scooped the boy up and placed him on his horse, then mounted behind the boy. Merol's own ability to communicate with the spirits could help calm the fragment of Drake's spirit inside him, but both boys would need help if they were to regain any resemblance of their former shelves.

Soon all the boys were on horseback, riding into the small ferry town of Yridrial. It was a bit slower than normal, as Merol wanted to avoid the bumps created by urgent horse riding.

When they reached the port, there was already a ferry there An Elven ship carrying two Elves, a male and female T he ma le got out and greeted them, spoke to Merol as they all entered the ship, and helped them carry their supplies and the two unconscious boys onto the ship.

A few hours later, at high noon, they arrived at Qazameria's port.

King Lados and three speaker healers were there to meet them.

King Lados recognised Merol and greeted him as the man disembarked from the ferry.

"Elduhost Merol! What happened?"

Merol explained to him what had happened, and how the two – he gestured to Marco and Lucas- had arrived earlier. King Lados had understood instantly what the man meant.

"So early? They were not meant to arrive for a few years more…nothing we can do about that though. We ride for Ilandri, the capital of our fair island. We have not a second to lose. We have horses for you all. The elf boy and…the other one will ride in the open carriage. I will go ahead to oversee the rest of the preparations. We will have to perform the embodiment ceremony, you all will be the first humans to see it. It is usually performed for newborn infants, to imbue them with their spirits but this occasion demands of us a more unorthodox means of handling. I will see thee in the Capital of this fair isle."

Lucas studied the Elf King as he spoke. He was of average height but slender and clearly well exercised as there was no trace of fat anywhere on his nicely trimmed body. A body that was adorned with slick muscles and a long set of t r esses descending from his head. He had brown eyes and a smooth looking, oval shaped face without facial hair. His face may have looked young but his eyes betrayed a sense of being "ancient".

He spoke in haste but clearly and regally, then he transformed in to a black stallion, tall with long slender legs and glossy short hair. He reared on his hind legs and galloped off in the direction of the capital city.

The carriage started moving, following the path of the Elven King. The Elven Speaker healers removed the part of Drake's spirit from Aer'andil and placed it back in to the boy's body. Then the two Elven Speakers caring for Aer'andil and one for Drake gave portions of their own life force to heal and sustain the two boys until they arrived at the Capital and the royal palace.

When they arrived, they held the boys in their laps to continue sustaining them with their life force s and headed to the summoning room inside the Royal Palace. King Lados was already there with about a dozen more speakers.

The boys were placed in the circle.

"Elduhost Merol, you are a speaker and an experienced one, you can aid us. S tand with us and repeat our words. It will greatly hasten the healing of the both of them. The rest of you, stand behind us and do your best to keep silent ! O ur concentration cannot be broken if all is to go well." He smiled promptly at them, walked to Aer'andil and Drake, kn elt between them and placed a hand on each of their foreheads. The rest of the speaker Elves stood in semicircle around them. Then the chanting started, in the form of singing.

It was the fairest song Micraal had ever heard.

Soon after, Drake began to look better.

There was a faint glow forming around Aer'andil, which intensified as time passed.

An hour later, King Lados removed his hands from them both and stepped back although he still stood closer to the two boys than the rest of them.

Then the ceiling of the room opened by means of some unseen mechanism, and the sun seemed to direct his warm rays straight at the floor's center were Aer'andil lay.

Then a light shone down from the heavens above. It glowed a bright and blinding white. The orb-shaped spirit descended lower and lower as the Elves' chanting grew in intensity, their voices filling the room and much of the city.

Some of the Elves present, gasped in awe for reasons perhaps known to them alone, perhaps known to all who could understand and "listen" to the spirit world. King Lados, standing amongst them, did not gasp but seemed perplexed his eyes wide in surprise.

As the spirit descended into Aer'andil it seemed to Micraal that the heavens themselves were singing an ode to joy along with the Elves. He felt as if his soul was lifting from his body, wanting to reach new heights of happiness, wanting to reach further, achieve more than he was ought to. He could not exactly explain it as he unknowingly smiled with all his heart.

He wanted to look around to gauge the rest of his friends' faces and reactions but he could not break his eyes from the center of the room.

Aer'andil arched his back as the pulsating orb-shaped spirit entered him. Only the sun's light was glowing now. The chanting and the singing stopped from both the Elves and heavens.

All was silent for a moment. Then King Lados turned towards them and smiled.

"They will both be perfectly fine, better than before. It was close though, too close for comfort. Rooms have been prepared for all of you and you can rest or walk about the city as you will. I suspect for most of you it is the first time you have visit ed an Elven City. P lease enjoy it." Six Elves came in to the summoning room and led them to their rooms. Two carried Aer'andil and Drake in their arms.

Lucas noticed that his best friend no longer carried any of the marks and signs of what he had been through. He looked, at least physically, completely healed.

Aer'andil woke up feeling well rested and for a second he was completely at peace.

Then it all came back to him, flooding his mind with information.

The battle in the underground passage, his capture, the torture, the pain, his spirit numbing the pain, talking to him, sacrificing himself to save him from a worse fate, Drake being something else than human, giving him some of his own life force.

Where was he? He was lying in a very comfortable bed. It felt as if he was lying on top of clouds.

He pushed himself up on to his shoulders, his chest was naked, but he could feel pants below the bed covers.

He looked around. Lucas was sitting in a chair next to the bed, his head resting on the bed as he slept.

Aer'andil smiled warmly and caressed his friend's cheek gently.

Then a very regal looking elf entered the room with Merol, who wore Elven clothes. They were made of light blue and ochre silk that fitted his body perfectly, with straps and belts for his various tools and runes and sword. The Elf too was dressed impeccably in long, black, silk, hooded robe. His hair dark, shorter in the front, longer in the back, caught in ponytail. He didn't have the pale complexion Aer'andil expected of an Elf, based on the lore and fairy tales of Earth.

To say that his Master was angry was an understatement of gargantuan proportions. For days, no one had dared go close to him, n ot even those of the seven that were inside the citadel. A guard that did on the first day his Master learned of Gilthian's failure, did not get out of Olan's room alive or in one piece and the sound of his screams carried across the citadel and out to the tainted city. Other guards had dragged his headless bodYout and thrown it in to the gutters.

Now, four days later, he hesitantly knocked on the door.

"S…sir…it is Naire…may I enter?"

No answer came from within. He knocked again and heard only a buzzing, pulsating sound.

He opened the door as soundlessly as he could and peaked inside. His Master sat in his study with his back to the door.

Because of the angle of the door to the study he could not see exactly what was going on but there was some kind of very dark blue light coming from the room. He could not understand if the light was coming from the study or from his Master. Could that be possible, for the light to be coming from his Master? Maybe he was performing a magic spell or incantation.

He knocked again and spoke.

"Sir…Gilthian would like to speak to you, My Lord, and...and we have had news from the dragons, My Lord ? "

At the mention of Gilthian's name, the light disappeared and Olan stood up.

In less than a second, he had crossed the distance between the study and the door and was looking down on Naire's flame red-haired head.

He looked at him for a second or two then spoke.

"Tell Gilthian, to go back out there and not to come back without the Elf's head or I will make him understand, in prolonged and refined pain, as to why I am considered a much worse and more sadistic torturer than h e …- he paused for a second- what news from the dragons?"

"Y…yes… S ir…we had a missive from one of our agents sent to Vaser…they should be arriving any day now, as the ship carrying the messenger was delayed by a storm." That very moment a continuous "Thud" pause "Thud" pause "Thud" sound came from outside.

"They are here, My Lord!" Naire exclaimed.

Olan did not answer as he gave a chuckle that sen t shivers up Naire's spine, and left for the inner courtyard.

They arrived to see more than a thousand of the great Wyrms circling above.

Their wings flapping on the wind, making the thudding sound of thunder cracking through the air. A huge black dragon, larger than all the other ones, roared and let loose a stream of wyrmfire, dragon's breath. He then descended and his form was lost as he sat on the outer court and the ground trembled for a second, then another stream of fire was ejected skywards followed by another roar that shuttered windows all across Zah Dah.

The dragons had arrived and made their presence known.

Olan hurried to the outer court.

"Ar t thou the King of the Great Wyrms?" He asked the ancient dragon.

The dragon listened to him and then beg a n speaking in a heavy, ancient sounding voice full of malice, "Yeeesssss, I be the Great King of the Draggooonnnsss! My name be Droholost. We have come….do you still offer the lands of the Elves and all the riches therein?"

"Yes." Olan said simply. His hands crossed in front of his chest.

"Then the Dragons of Vaser will fight for you, we will follow your commands to ruin or victory!"

"I accept your allegiance. What of Fundor and his followers?"

The dragon growled and Naire could feel the vibrations i n his chest.

"Fundor will pose no problem, he may be my brood brother, but he only has two hundred of followers. I command more than three thousands of our finest warriors and I am more skilled than him."

Olan said nothing for a few moments.

"My first orders are these then. F ind a mountain top to the north of the city to settle and then start raiding the countryside from Varania to Lavonia, and the countryside around Eri'Adar. K ill and burn all that you like but you are NOT to go anywhere near the Elven islands or attack them yet. A ny Dragon that attacks t he Elven islands will be punished by death."

"Yes, king of Zah Dah!"

Droholost roared again and launched up into the air. He spoke to his dragons in their guttural tongue and they left for the hard rock Mountains surrounding Zah Dah.

"Yes. R ain fire and death in my name." Olan said and left for the dungeons.

Merol smiled warmly at the two boys in the room. They still looked so young but they had grown up so much since he first bumped into them. They had fought and battled, and done quite well for boys that had never seen a fight, not a real one.

"You are looking a whole lot better." Merol said through his smile.

"Yeah…thanks, Ifeel better…at least…physically…." Aer'andil's face shadowed for a second as he remembered the torture and the pain after his uncle had died.

Lucas popped his eyes open and looked about. "Huh!" He said groggily. He noticed Aer'andil was awake and he smiled sleepily. "You're awake." He grinned. "You should have seen the thing that went into you. It was like a white Fawkes!" He said half-laughing as he remembered the phoenix from the Harry Potter movies.

Merol nodded. "That was something that got everyone's attention."

Aer'andil looked at his best friend, didn't even care about the other two people in the room as he held Lucas by his cheeks, and brought him forward for a kiss. S tarting with pecks and then in a full tongue filled kiss like they used to before coming to this world. He had missed this so much.

After a few moments, King Lados cleared his throat and chuckled.

Aer'andil blushed and remembered what Lucas had said to him.

"A phoenix entered me?"

"Not exactly Aer'andil, you were spiritless, and we performed the ceremony of embodiment. We usually performed on newborn infants so that their spirit can enter them. It was the only thing that would save you from a very painful death.

"Where are my manners? I am King Lados, Trael Lados, which means young stallion in Elvish …not so young anymore though…"

"Pleased to meet you Your Highness…" Aer'andil begun to say but was interrupted by King Lados.

"King Lados will do, Aer'andil."

"I suppose you have questions for us?" Aer'andil asked him.

"Yes and no…you have been asleep for almost five days now. Elduhost Merol and I have spoken at some length about most of the events of your journey so far, but I suspect the High-King will have more to discuss with you. He will be here by tomorrow, at the latest, if the weather does not get any colder."

"Why colder?"

"Birds' wings need thermal winds to fly properly…horses on the other hand can travel whatever the weather!" There was something teasing about his comment, as if there was some kind of healthy competition between the different Elf islands and animals they transformed to.

Aer'andil looked perplexed and King Lados understood as much, as he gave a small smirk.

"You will have time to understand Aer'andil. You will all be staying for some time in Qazameria, as in the north most part of the island there is a Speaker monastery, and your friend here needs to have some training with his abilities. You must also be trained in magic, the ways of our people and various other fields…but all that we can get back to later. I suspect you both have many questions, but for now you require rest. So rest, explore the city and tomorrow we can all discuss things in greater length. I shall leave you now, as matters of ruling this fair island call upon my time and attention. Before I leave, what was the name of your uncle's spirit if I may ask?"

"Elrian Lavalas, Sir." Aer'andil answered rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

King Lados showed no emotion at hearing the name.

He gave a small bow with his head and left.

"Yes , our High-King will have much to discuss with you. " He thought.

"Where is Drake…? I…he…I would like to talk to him…he kind of saved my life…is he okay? I hope he wasn't….harmed…or worse…" Aer'andil asked Merol.

"Drake is doing well. With the return of his whole spirit, he got up earlier today and went for a swim at the bottom of the large waterfall." Merol said. "The waters are scented, you two might like to visit them." He said to both the boys. "If you think you are well enough."

"I'm glad he's okay!" Aer'andil said, shaking his head to emphasize his joy at the news.

"Scented waterfall?! Yeah, I'm up for it!" He said excitedly and looked at Lucas.

He got up and saw there was a mirror in the room.

"Finally! A mirror. I haven't seen myself since we came to this place!" Aer'andil said and walked over to the reflective glass.

"Not to be vain or anything, but I look FUCKING EPIC! I mean look at those ears! He posed some in front of the mirror and then just dropped his sleeping pants and looked himself all over. He noticed that he had no scars on him; the Elf healers must have healed the scars from his torture. Well, good riddance he thought.

Then he looked around the room for his clothes and located them. The room was all built from wood, or rather of wood, as if branches had been twisted and smoothed in creating a room, with leaves poking out all over the ceiling and columns.

He put on the pants but carried his top clothes instead.

They walked through the city. Aer'andil couldn't help himself as he looked everywhere, at every building, every tree. Most buildings were built in, on or around trees, and some from living trees, just like the royal palace they were staying in.

There were lots of Elves around, women, men and children. This was their city and their island after all. They walked around, talked to each other, and all smiled and greeted them. Some of the children, mostly girls brought them necklaces made of flowers and leaves.

The climate was very pleasing, neither too cold nor warm. A fter the frigid cold of the mountains, it was a very pleasant change.

They arrived at the waterfall and it must have been at least thirty, forty meters high.

"How deep is the lake below?" He asked an Elf boy that was near the waterfall.

"Five m…" At the word five, Aer'andil grinned mischievously, ran over the wooden passage built over the waterfall's edge and jumped. A rching his spine backwards, his hands extended to his sides, he plunged in to the void below. He closed his eyes relishing the freedom of the air pressing in on him and the gravity pulling him irrevocably down.

At the last moment he opened his eyes and brought his hands forward in front of his head, his hands closed in to fists to break the water.

His head broke the surface of the water and he looked up at his best friend.

"COME IN!! THE WATER IS GREAT!" He shouted and swam to Drake. He could tell him apart from his brother now even more easily because of their spirits' colours.

"Show off!" Lucas bellowed down the cliff face. He looked. It was a long way down.


Lucas turned his head around to look for the owner of the voice.


He found it. A small frog on a branch was looking at him stretching his vocal sack each time it said Jump.

"It's a long way down." Lucas replied to the amphibian. He was used to this by now. "If I land wrong, I could snap my bones."

"Chicken." It croaked.

It didn't actually say 'chicken', but it was the closest thing that Lucas understood it to mean.

"Yeah, okay I can do this." He forgot about the frog and looked down. He wasn't going to do a fancy back flip, as he would probably pull a muscle and end up doing a mighty belly flop.

He jumped and pointed his hands in front of him. He felt like he was flying. For the longest of seconds he was a bird, he was soaring through the air.

Cold water enveloped him and he pumped his arms forcing himself towards the surface. The water was crystal clear. He broke the surface and laughed. "Wow ! That was amazing." He gasped and searched for his friends. He saw Aer'andil swimming towards Merol and the twins.

Aer'andil hugged Drake from behind, with as much affection as he could and spoke in to his ear because of the water crashing sound.

"Thank you! If it wasn't for you…I owe you one! But…what are you if you don't mind me asking?" He asked the boy as he released him from the hug.

Drake smiled back and pulled himself up onto a rock that was just submerged under the water line. "Well," He said smiling. "I guess the secret is alreadYout."

Beck came up and leaned on his brother's shoulder. "We're not human." Beck said.

"No shit!" Aer'andil commented and poked his tongue out.

"We're spirits." Drake continued. "We uhh..."

"They screwed up." Merol said as he waded into the water wearing only a pair of borrowed shorts. They were way too small for him, the E lven clothing was stretched obscenely over his bulging legs and waist. "They were spirits that took a wrong path. They would seduce men and lead them to their deaths."

The twins looked down in shame.

"But," Merol said a bit more cheerfully. "That was a long time ago. There was a battle, in the end their true nature showed through, and they were offered a second chance. The elder spirits spared their existence at my request. Instead, they were locked into two bodies of flesh. They were put to good use in the boy Harem where they joined us."

"We're different now though." Drake explained. "We understand that just because a person doesn't have a spirit, it doesn't make them less of a person." He looked up at Merol.

"We were defeated by one who does not have a spirit." Beck continued. "But we have our uses."

Drake took over. "We can't speak to the spirits as such, but we can take their form for a short while. We can travel as they do and we have some abilities that make us unique."

"We're still the same spirits as we were before, but we have realised that sex is much more rewarding than killing a spiritless man." B eck finished. "So please don't judge us. We were foolish and immature."

Merol chuckled. "Were?" He patted the twins on their shoulders. "Now though, I see my request to spare you has paid off. You are still horny little toads but your hearts have been warmed to life."

"It's okay. I didn't know you back then. I know you now, and now you are both great, and you saved my life – he said as he looked into Drake's eyes-, we all get lost from time to time, which is why it's good to have friends to pull you back…" he was interrupted as he felt dizzy and lightheaded. He tried to use his hands to steady himself on the rock, then he felt it, the same instincts and familiar "tag" in his inside s he had felt when his uncle had spoken to him when not in meditation. This time though, it felt different, far more powerful, more…ancient than his uncle. A s if a vast, endless, and incomprehensible existence pressed in on his soul, he didn't know how much of it was visible to others looking at him.

"Lubidus and Amarus were judged unworthy to live in the higher planes of existence. B ut this act of selfless action has not gone unnoticed by the Animus Aeternum." He heard himself speak not really knowing what he was saying but feeling the need to do so, just like he had felt it with his uncle. His voice was not entirely his own either.

All three heard the spirit speaking through Aer'andil, but even so, it was a strange thing to witness as the boy's eyes glowed pure white for a second.

"Woah, haven't felt that since…well since my uncle gave his life... –he paused for a second as he felt tears coming to his eyes a s he continued speaking… "…for me…well…anyways…I'm going to swim…" He finished talking to the twins and gave Drake a peck on the lips. He swam to Lucas and started tickling him and trying to duck his head under the water.

"Keep it up boys." Merol smiled at the twins. "You might redeem yourselves yet."

Drake frowned. "No." He said and even Beck looked at him strangely. "I don't want to do this just to redeem myself."

Beck realised now. "I understand, B rother. We do this because we want to." He said sincerely. "This is what we are now."

"I don't want to lose this body and these forms." Drake looked down at his body, naked of course.

"I don't think you're done yet though," Merol told them. "They have noticed, but you are not yet redeemed…far from it I 'll wager."

Aer'andil wondered where Micraal was, but then he thought that he w ould probably be out and about, exploring the city.

Aer'andil had gone off to play with Lucas, who writhed under the other boy ' s tickling. They chased each other about in the water and a few moments later Beck and Drake also joined in the fun. Merol had decided this was a good place as any to let boys be boys.

The four of them played, dunked, swam and giggled until they were all out of breath and feeling physically exhausted.

Aer'andil looked at Lucas and smiled a warm smile at his friend.

He saw a cave entrance behind the waterfall. He took Lucas' hand and looked at the twins in such a way that suggested that he wanted some privacy with his best friend.

They nodded.

Aer'andil and Lucas walked beneath the curtain of falling water. T he cave was large enough for two persons to sit inside it.

Aer'andil sat opposite Lucas and looked at him very seriously.

He smiled meekly and bit his lower lip.

"I…I…was thinking…ehh…back…back at that place…. when that…guy…tortured me…I kept thinking…." His voice trailed off as he started crying.

Lucas hugged him close, caressing his luscious golden locks.

"I…you don't have to tell me if…you…I mean, if it makes you feel like this." Lucas stuttered, not really knowing what to say.

It took some time for Aer'andil to stop crying but eventually hiccupping, he looked up with tears in his eyes. "I was in so much pain…after my…uncle died. I thought that every cell in my body was on fire…I could feel my life draining away and yet all I could think about was how I haven't felt love…you know for…I mean romantically…how I…I haven't yet…I mean…uhmm…." Aer'andil trailed off, blushing like a beetroot.

Lucas giggled, "… been fucked yet…? I…have been wondering how that feels as well…" he said blushing just as deeply.

"All the boys at the harem…Beck and Drake…they all seem to enjoy it…greatly…" Aer'andil sighed, "Iwantyoutof uc kme!" He said, altogether in one breath.

Lucas looked at him and shaking his head. S miling gently, "You don't really want your first time to be with me…even if we've known each other forever. If we had stayed on Earth, sooner or later that would have happened…but here…you should have your first time with one you love…and so should I." He said hugging his best friend. He wanted to do that with him more than anything but he felt that if he did that, now with Marco, he would be taking advantage of his best friend in his time of weakness.

"I…guess you're right. L et's go out and play some more." Aer'andil said and got up.

Lucas kissed him and got up, wore his swim clothes and got out of the cave.

Micraal had been walking throughout the city for the better part of the day, exploring, when he reached the main waterfall. He saw the boys play ing below in the lake and he started descending the stairs. When he reached the lakeshore he saw Aer'andil and Lucas coming out of the cave.

They played and swam for a few hours more.

"I'm going to walk the city for a bit." Aer'andil said.

"I'll come with you!" Micraal said.

"No…I want to be alone for a while…" Aer'andil said looking sad.

Micraal looked shell-shocked but said nothing.

Aer'andil walked about the city lost in his thoughts and memories of the past days. He walked and walked until he reached the city's edge, and then, he walked some more. He was in the middle of a meadow, the city glimmering in the distance, lost in a sea of grass and water.

He sat on the ground and crossed his legs.

This spirit was not green or fatherly warm. This spirit reminded him of white-silver flames. It was scorchingly hot and cold at the same time. He soon found out that this spirit was far more cryptic than his uncle had been.

"Who is after me and Lucas?"

"A mistake."

"That is no answer."

"Who matters not, why is far more interesting."

"Question or not I have made it."

"That means not it will receive an answer you will understand."

"I cannot understand what I have not yet received!"

"That is not entirely accurate."

"Who is he?"

"Why? What would you gain if you knew he was a human or an elf or if you knew its name?"

"More than I do now!"

"Not entirely accurate. All you would know more than before. Would be its name."

"How can I defeat someone I know nothing about?"

"By learning not of who he is, but why? By finding out why, you will find out who."

"Agghhh!! Fine ! W hy?"

"No cheating! I tell you, you will have cheated and most importantly I will have done so as well."

"Where then, w here can Ifind out why?"

"Ah m uch better question. Where knowledge lies."

"You didn't say much of anything…again."

"I said enough. Use your E lven mind and cunning and you will understand that which you do not now."

"What happens…what happens if - Lucas and I can't…win?"

"The worlds of both the living below and the high planes above stand on the edge of a cliff, on the precipice of change. Your actions will decide whether it all falls or will continue as it is."

"If a prophecy says I…we'll win…is it not sure that we will?"

"Prophecies say nothing…prophecies are interpretations of possibilities."

"Why me and Lucas ? W hy not two other boys or girls?"

"Why blue and not red? What is, is."

"You still haven't answered why the spirits selected us."

"The spirits selected no one. A prophesy was made. A prophesy was interpreted."

"So…someone interpreted the interpretation of a possibility."

It was the first time he had heard his new spirit make a noise resembling a chuckle.


The conversation went on for some time.

"It is time for you to return to Ilandri, the capital of Qazameria." It said and then remained silent and detached again.

Aer'andil "woke up" from the meditation and walked back to the city with his head down. T he wind was blowing his long blond curls all over his face.

He entered the royal palace where a boy that looked to be around his age greeted him.

"Good greetings to you, I am Imlathis." He had straight brown hair, amber eyes and a nice body clothed in fine silk attire that worked to emphasise his toned muscles and healthy looking bulge between his legs.

"Good greetings to you as well…I am Mar…my name's Aer'andil…" Aer'andil went to offer his hand to shake but then withdrew it. He had no idea if this was a custom here as well or no t.

Imlathis smiled, "Humans shake hands because they fear someone drawing a sword. Then again, that still leaves the other hand free and weapon ready. W e have no such fears amongst us, so we just extend our arms in front of us and touch our palms as we bow our heads slightly." As he spoke he extended his arms and Aer'andil did the same, as their palms met they bowed their heads.

"I know who you are. I am King Lados' lover." The boy said without any hesitation.

"I…well…I guess they don't mind around here about the age difference…" He said softly, blushing.

"Age works differently with Elves. Elves don't reach adulthood until somewhere around one thousand years old…" Aer'andil interrupted him.

"One thousand years? How…how old are you?"

"I am the equivalent of fourteen for a human child, but I have lived for five hundred years."

"You…I…but…will I live for so long?"

"King Lados is seven thousand years old and the High-King of the Elves is almost twenty thousand years old…so yes, if you don't get ill or die in battle, you can reach even further than that…"

Aer'andil looked to be shocked and sad all of a sudden, as if he had suddenly realised something.

"I…thank you for the information…do you know where my room is? Ifeel…tired."

"Yes, I will take you there."

They went to his room, passing Lucas talking to Merol on the way there. He said a faint hi as he passed them he went straight to bed and fell into an immediate sleep.

He saw in his uneasy dreams, him self standing above his friends' graves. They were not dead because of a battle but because of old age and he was not even past his teen s. In other dreams, Lucas died in his arms. He was as old as he was now, or at least he looked like a twelve year old boy and Lucas looked like he was past his eighties.

He woke up with a start and a scream.

He was drenched in sweat.

"Fuck…" He whispered. He looked outside the window. D awn was breaking and he wouldn't get anymore sleep so he got up and searched for his clothes. He found a chair with some silk clothes on it.

Before he could do anything two Elves he had never seen before entered the room. They bowed. King Lados walked in right behind them.

"They are your personal servants for as long as you are in Qazameria and Ilandri."

"My-what-now?" Aer'andil hadn't even woken up and he was met with weird stuff.

"You and Lucas will have your personal servants for the duration of your stay in Qazameria." King Lados said with a smile.

"Oh…ehhh…Me and Lucas? Ehhh, what are they supposed to do? How do they help me?"

"Well, they see to your every desire. They will bath e you, dress you, and bring you food and drink. J ust ask and they will do whatever you ask of them." King Lados said.

"I am not used to being served like that…I guess we'll have to try it out…what time is it?"

"The sun is not even out yet…according to the prophesy two boys of royal blood one elf, one human will unify Valana. B efore you ask, I do not know all of the prophesy or who your parents are. That is for another to tell, but for now, Uley and Thelin will dress you."

"Will they follow me everywhere I go?" Aer'andil asked freaking out at the prospect of someone following him wherever he went.

"No, not unless you want them to, they would only if you were a king. If you were t he High-King or the Crown-prince then they would follow you but for now you are a high ly honoured guest in my house." King Lados told him.

"No, it is okay I don't think I would feel right if I had two people following me around everywhere…no offence or anything…just not used to it…" Aer'andil

"No offense taken, they understand, you will get used to it."

"Maybe…" Aer'andil said.

King Lados bowed his head and left.

"So what do I do?" Aer'andil asked the two Elves.

"Just stand there. W e will take care of everything. If you need anything, have a messenger or even yourself find us. O ur rooms are next to yours and we usually can be found i n the palace grounds and gardens."

"Okay…" Aer'andil stood there as they removed his night clothing and dressed him. Then they combed and prepared his hair. When they had finished they bowed and left. Aer'andil bowed back and tried to smile.

Aer'andil got out of his room and walked to the gardens where he remained until the sun came out.

He walked to the waterfall and sat on the cliff's edge. He stared at the lake below and the various Elves going about their day.

He didn't know how much time had passed when he felt someone gently prod his shoulder. Aer'andil turned his head to see Lucas.

He tried to smile at his best friend as he sat next to him, their legs hanging from the cliff's edge.

"Hey, didn't see you last night."

"Yeah…sorry I kind of got carried away and walked outside the city…then meditated a lot…so when I returned, I was tired and went to sleep…" He said unconvincingly.

"Come on! It's me you're talking to!" Lucas started saying, but he was interrupted by some commotion by the Elves. There were quite a lot of birds flying above them all of a sudden.

"This must be the High-King that King Lados told us about…which one do you think he is?"

"The eagle I suppose…but don't change the subject…what is up with you?"

Aer'andil didn't answer, "Nothing…really. I'm going to go and see where they…land." He got up. He didn't want to be rude to his best friend but he didn't want to talk about this at that moment.

Lucas sighed shaking his head but did not pressure him anym ore. He knew that when his friend wanted to he would talk to him.

Aer'andil walked, following the birds above until he reached the front of the royal palace. He followed a staircase upwards where there was a clearing with a wooden extension over the cliff. The cliff plunged to the valley below which led to the sea on one side, and to the city, with its cliffs and waterfalls, on the other side. You could see the whole island from there.

The birds, all different shapes and sizes, started landing in front of him, as they landed they changed back to their elven form, m en and women. Then he saw the eagle. A majestic, huge, golden-plumed eagle land ed and transform ed into a tall, blond, blue-eyed elf-man. He looked to be around fifty but Aer'andil knew him to be closer to twenty thousand years old.

The man looked at him with something akin to longing and maybe love? It was obvious to Aer'andil that he was holding back.

Then behind the High-King, he saw a crane land and transform into a she-elf, beautiful as a clear spring day and as fair as a rose in full bloom. She had long, dark hair caught in braids behind her head, and piercing yet gentle emerald eyes. There was something very regal and equally sad about her.

"Good greetings to you both B earers of P rophesy. I am High-King of all Elves, Liandras, and this is my wife and High Queen, Felwyn Galay. Welcome to our fair islands."

She bowed her head but her eyes lingered, as if she was unsure of something but could not quite place what. As if she was trying to remember something but at the very last moment it elude d her.

Looking back to Liandras, he realised that the High-King had spoken in plural. He looked behind him to see Lucas standing there as well.

"We have much to speak about Marco and Lucas...many words to be spoken with you and your friends." He told them and then turned his head to the others standing there.

"King Lados. H ow are you, my friend? A nd Elduhost Merol. H ow are you, my old friend? I had heard you had decided to come our way again."

"My King, it is good to see you again! Yes, your information is as always accurate. I couldn't very well leave the se two alone in the wilderness…not with all that is moving about in the countryside of late." Merol answered after bowing his head to the High-King.

"Yes, our scouts have mentioned something moving about that should not be. Let us go to the palace and discuss this further." Liandras said as he turned and whispered something to his wife and then some of the other Elves, before he headed to the Royal palace of Ilandri.

They all walked to wards the palace. Aer'andil saw the twins walk ing along with them and Micraal in the distance looking grim.

They reached the palace.

"I suppose you all must have a ton of questions…the four of us must go to the council room…we have much to discuss." He said motioned to him, Lucas and Merol and walked towards the rear of the palace.

Aer'andil, Lucas, Merol and the twins followed him.

The High-King opened his mouth to say something but Merol spoke first.

"No point. They will join us irrelevant of our wishes, or those two will tell them afterwards…" he finished pointing at Lucas and Aer'andil.

The High-King chuckled and continued walking.

They entered a large room with a round table and lots of chairs. They sat around the table but Liandras remained standing.

"Before you start with your questions a short history lesson. T welve years ago, the seer made a prophesy. I was ordained to be one of the two Guardians of that prophesy, and thus, I know who you are Marco. I know who your parents are…

"But I only know of you…the other Guardian knows of Lucas' identity. I t was deemed safer. If one of the guardians was captured, he could only endanger one of you, not both. T here is a catch though, if I tell you who you are…everyone that ever knew of you, about you, your parents, or your birth will remember you. You see, the spell that made me your Guardian, made sure that only I remember you,

"Everyone else in Valana, on this…planet, no longer remembers you or that you still exist, not until you learn who you are and the spell is broken. It would be safer if you learned, who you are after this is all over. It would give us an edge over what it is out there rising, gathering, preparing. But if you want to know I will tell you…" Aer'andil interrupted him.

"I want to know!" He said decisively and solemnly. His hands were bunched in fists on the table.

"Very well, I will need to start earlier then, much earlier in order for you to understand it all… "

"Some is known to the humans, some is not even known to Merol, who knows a lot more than the average human. Some is forgotten even by today's Elves…

"Aeons ago, beyond counting, there was nothing but magic…primordial magic. After…a while the magic coalesced into spirits in an effort to understand itself. Soon enough though, that was not enough and so magic formed into all that make us separate. Into land, water and air and after that, animals came into the world until a species called Nial evolved into sentience. "

"The spirits were very intrigued by this and after some time their curiosity could not be satisfied by observation alone. So they came down on the plane of mortals and entered the souls of animals. All other animals eventually died, not being able to contain the spirit that tried to bond with them, but the Nial did not die. I nstead some of them, most of them gained immortality and enhanced senses, and other…privileges. T h us the Elven species came in to be ing. One drawback of this was that all Nial, now Elves had to have a spirit inside them or they would die a horrible death. Also, all children born from Elves have to have a spirit inside them as well or they too, would die.

"That was not the spirits' intent so they made it their cardinal rule not to ever do that again. T he lower planes were off limits to interference from th at time on." Liandras paused and looked at the twins for a second with a neutral but disapproving look on his face. "A pact was then created between Elves and spirits. A pact, that declared that Elves alone would carry spirits in the world of mortals. Speakers those few Nial that had not gained immortality and the other privileges of the Elves, would be able to communicate with the spirits. The pact also declared that the spirits would not be able to venture into the world of mortals without consequences, unless called there by an Elf and/or a Speaker. Illegal interference would be severely punished. "

"From time to time some of the Elves, m ale and female alike would fall in love with a human and in some occasions they would marry and have children. B ut the children would always get their human parent's mortality and senses…until about seven thousand years ago…the seer made a prophesy…one of many before and since.

"A boy of a human and elf will be born, of royal descen t through both lines, if not stopped he will end the line of Glothoin, an evil unheard of before, the boy must be killed upon his birth or the pact's end is nigh.

"At the time there was only one elf that was married to a human, my brother. He was married to the heiress of Dara and she was with child. I thought about killing her…doing it without the knowledge of my brother but I could not. I could not deny my brother the love of his life. So instead, I thought that if the child was raised amongst the Elves, with kindness, gentleness, care and love…that he would not grow up to be the evil the seer had foretold.

"His mother died in childbirth and the boy was raised amongst the Elves, his rights to the throne of Dara were relinquished and his cousin took the throne. from him the lineage of today's Dara's rulers' spring.

"For a few years it seemed like we had undone the prophesy but then worrying signs started to immerge…tortured animals…raped children…I confronted him. He tried to lie his waYout of it but I pushed and he snapped. He screamed about how Elves were abominations, how all beings should be mortal…how the spirits should be all killed. I should have killed him then but instead, feeling sorry for my brother, I exiled him from all elven lands.

"For three thousand years I thought it was all done…then clouds started to gather above Valana. M arauding bands of raiders more organised than usual ravaged our lands, elven ships were sunk and finally Udala, our only city in the mainland, was attacked. The armies were assembled and we marched against the assailants. When we reached Udala…the Elves there had not been killed…their fate was far worse. They had had their spirits removed and were all turned in to mindless monsters with all the speed, agility and senses of Elves but without the grace or mind, we call them Adalnial. W e fought hard that day…killed thousands, Adalnial…evil humans…in the end I came head to head with their leader… "

"…my nephew, t he first offspring to have acquired the elf parent's immortality, magic and senses and the mother's speaker abilities, and far more powerful than either. Such evil never had I before encountered, nor have I since… "

"He screamed at me how he had been wronged. H ow he would kill all Elves and humans and create a world without any spirits and rule over it, alone and mighty. A fter three days of swordfight I…my blade pierced his black heart and he fell to the ground, dead."

"That day I lost three loved ones ; my brother slain by his own son, my nephew slain by me and, most importantly of all, my son and your elder brother Fendalas Nemue…"

"I should have heeded the seer's words and killed him at birth…but I could not…so much bloodshed and sadness followed my hesitation and brotherly love…so when the seer made another prophesy I did not take its foretelling so light ly again…"

Aer'andil interrupted him, "What was the prophesy?" He sounded as if a s immering anger was reaching critical mass.

Liandras looked at him with a pained look and spoke in a singing voice.

"Evil's will ancient beyond aeons, first of all, it wills after aeons.

An offspring of the Fairfolk, of high descend amongst the Fairfolk.

An offspring of the Speakers, highest and first amongst the speakers.

Together they shall be born, under a pale moon on the last of summer's days they shall be born.

Elf and speaker from death they must leave, from Valana they must leave.

To Earth they must go, to rise and train they must go.

To return when ready, to face the evil when ready ,

Two shall guard the prophecy, two shall remember of what was before prophesy.

One of the Fairfolk, one of the Speakers. Two shall remember of offspring of Speaker and Fairfolk.

All shall forget of what was, all shall remember when offspring are told of what was.

Two offspring many a hardship will face, first of all evil they will face.

Many a league they will traverse in a quest, across Valana in a quest.

But cruel is not fate, there are unknowing mentors and guardians by fate.

War will come to Valana, it will spread from the Shadowlands to Valana.

Blood and destruction, no one can avoid the destruction.

War's wrath will spread, where will loyalties lie when it spread.

Elves fair and immortal will stand, Speakers loyal and stubborn will stand.

Human hearts are easily deceived, magic, sword or spirit will be deceived.

Orkhavoc stand for evil, unpossesing of requirement to resist the evil.

Wyrms of fire stand divided, for evil, for survival they stand divided.

To face what is neither there or here, they must go both there and here.

Primordial magic does not lie, but those that use it lie.

Wyrms inside them have fire, and their temper is of fire.

To open the Gathlail Aeternae is to open doom, to use yesterday magic speak intent and will doom.

Death and creation, death can bring creation.

Creation and death, creation can bring death.

To undo what is neither here or there, one must understand what is here and there.

Neither here or there, only celestial essence can bring there.

Neither there or here, only fire can bring it here.

Neither here or there, it cannot exist in here and there."

Liandras paused for moment before he continued talking.

"Emissaries were sent to all the Elven and Human kingdoms. You two were the only ones that fit all the prophesy's criteria and after the previous time I spared no effort in trying to prevent it. Thus you two were sent away to that other land called Earth. But you have come back far too early and so you must be prepared and begin training here tomorrow…" Aer'andil again interrupted Liandras.

"Who am I? Who are my parents!?" Aer'andil asked this time sounding angrier and with his emotions boiling to the surface.

"You…you are my son and the Crown Prince of all Elves and Elven lands…Storm-arrow indeed…you have gr…" Liandras started saying, looking at his son full of love and longing.

Lucas' eyes grew as big as saucers and both the twins gasped. Merol stayed emotionless.

Whatever Liandras had intended to say he was interrupted sharply by a furious Aer'andil.

"WHY DID YOU SEND ME AWAY!? WHY DID YOU ABANDON ME!? WOULD I NOT HAVE BEEN SAFE R IN GEL'ANR WITH ALL OF THE ELVES AS GUARDS AND GUARDIANS?! WHY DENY ME THE RIGHT TO BE RAISED AMONGST MY PEOPLE!?" The room vibrated and shook as magical energy overfl owed from the emotionally charged Aer'andil, his voice changed to an otherworldly tone.


"I DON'T EVEN UNDERSTAND THE LANGUAGE OF MY OWN PEOPLE AND I AM CALLED TO LEAD THEM? WHY DID YOU SEND ME TO GROW UP AWAY FROM MY FATHER AND MOTHER?! IN WHAT WAY WAS ALL OF THIS BETTER FOR ME THAN GROWING UP WITH YOU? AND FOR WHAT? SOME PROPHESY THAT MAY OR MAY NOT COME TO PASS!?!?" Liandras did not look angry, but Merol thought he had never seen him look as sad before, at least for as long as he had known him these past forty years.

"DO YOU KNOW HOW IT FEELS GROWING UP NOT KNOWING WHO YOU ARE?! WHO YOUR PAERENTS ARE?! WHY THEY ABANDONED YOU?! WHY!?" Windows and fragile surfaces shu dd ered all around the room as Aer'andil bellowed the final word.

Aer'andil stood there for a second before he turned and left, smashing the door behind him with just a flick of his hand.

Lucas tried to get up but Liandras placed a hand on his shoulder. "No, let him go. Storm A rrow in more than just name…his mother named him well…and such build-up of magical energy…the prophesy was correct about him as well. He will not be the only one angry with me today. H is mother will…well she will be unpleasant. U nfortunately, I do not know who you are Lucas. T he second Guardian is the current steward of Dara, although we've had no news from Dara in over a year, what with the civil war and all…" he said looking straight in Merol's eyes.

"Perhaps it is time for the rightful heir to the throne to return to the lands of his ancestors and reclaim his birthright. O therwise Ifear Dara and her speakers might be lost to us when war breaks out and we are called to ride and meet the enemy on the field of battle." He said calmly and departed from the room.

Lucas listened with undivided attention to all that the High-King had to say and then some, things worked very differently over here so Liandras' account of how things were created could be partially correct.

Even if it wasn't entirely true, it was great lore Lucas thought. He felt for his friend and he had expected him to snap as he did, although the intensity of it came as a surprise. Lucas understood why the two guardians had had to send them to Earth and didn't begrudge them their actions, but Aer'andil was far more emotional than he and so it was only to be expected for him to react as he ha d.

He wanted to go and talk to him but he sat in his chair.

Micraal had not entered the room with them but stood outside the wooden doors. He saw Aer'andil leave and slam the door behind him. He had not heard anything from inside. T here must have been some sort of spell that prevented anyone from outside listening in.

He followed Aer'andil until he caught up with him outside, "Anything I can do for you?" He asked and tried to caress the boy's shoulder but Aer'andil pushed his hand away.

"No…don't…look it's not your fault but I am not in a mood to talk to anyone at the moment…or to do anything else." He said to Micraal trying not to sound as dismissive as he was feeling.

"You talk with Lucas! You talk to Merol, but you don't want to talk to me?" Micraal asked irritated.

"I am not going to explain myself to anyone. You are my friend, and I love you as one but don't push me! Not today." He said his voice calm but deceptively so, and started walking. He had no idea where he was going but he did notice that wherever he went all Elves now bowed their heads more so than their normal greeting. They knew. They knew who he was and were showing their respect to him and to the title he apparently possessed.

He walked and walked around the city until he bumped into someone.

He fell to the ground as the other person staggered back, "Oh…I'm sorry…I…I didn't see you th…" He stopped talking the moment he looked up and saw the High Queen, his biological mother, looking at him with tear-filled eyes. Her hands closed in front of her as if she was hugging something or someone.

"Ohh, my L ove! My sweet boy! I…thought…I thought you were dead all this time…" She kne lt in front of him and hugged him tight, rubbing his back and shoulders, crying softly. "…you have grown so much…and into such a handsome boy!"

"I…I…never thought…knew… that I was an elf…and…royalty to boot…I mean…it's just too much all together…" He said burying his face in her neck. She was so warm and he felt so comfortable in her embrace. He had never felt this way when his stepmother back on Earth had hugged him and that had not been a frequent occurrence. She caressed his cheek and kissed his forehead.

"I know L ove…I know Aer'andil, my child. I thought I would never see you again…" she lifted his chin and wiped the tears from his face and hugged him again, "I know it's too much but…don't blame your father, L ove. He only did what he did to protect you…out of love for you…even if I'll be giving him a piece of my mind later." She tried to laugh.

Aer'andil was enjoying her warm skin so much. He could barely believe that she was his real mother. He could scarcely believe that he was actually hugging his real, biological mother.

He hugged her close and sighed in contentment.

"I know… M om, it…just sort of all came out…"

"I suppose you screamed at him releasing magical energy in the process…?" she chuckled softly, as if she had expected him to do so, "I did name you S torm A rrow for more than one reason." She said with pride in her voice.

Merol was thinking on what the High-King had told them.

Trouble was brewing and clouds of war were gathering again. He had no idea if his country was in a civil war…for some very worrying reason he had had no warning for the civil war in Dara from either human, or spirit sources…nothing.

"Lucas, starting tomorrow you will train in the monastery of the S peakers here in Qazameria. You wake at dawn." Merol said to Lucas sternly and without room for arguments.

Lucas did not argue. He knew it to be pointless. He nodded and got out of the room. He searched for Marco until he saw him walking hand in hand with the High Queen, his mother.

"Hi…" He felt awkward, he didn't know if Aer'andil still wanted to be friends now that he was amongst his people and with his real family.

Aer'andil smiled warmly and hugged him.

"Uhm…Lucas, this is my…mother Felwyn Galay… M om, this is my best friend in the world…"

Felwyn Galay bowed her head slightly and Lucas made a deeper bow, "Your Highness!"

"You who have taken care of my son for all these years in the other land, from now on you will be known as friend and ally to the Elves." She said smiling and caressed his cheek.

"I…ehhh…thank you, your Highness."

"Felwyn Galay will do Elduhost Lucas…until you learn your real name in Dara."

"Walk with us!" Aer'andil said. Lucas walked with them and they talked. Lucas relaxed after a while.

"How does it feel to be a Prince?" Lucas tugged on Aer'andil's shoulder feeling playful.

"Crown-prince apparently…I really dunno…to tell you the truth. T oo new. B ut it is who I am, so…" Aer'andil spoke to his friend as he shrugged his shoulders shaking his head in disbelief.

Felwyn Galay observed them and smiled. She could not stop looking at her son. She had not been so happy in a long time.

"Merol, I will require your assistance while Lucas and my son train in Qazameria and Gel'anr." Liandras spoke. They stood on a balcony of marble, overlooking the city below and stretched out in front of them. There was a light breeze making the curtains sway and ruffling their hair.

"Of course." Merol gave a small bow of his head.

"We are going to create a bow for my son." Liandras said calmly, his fingers grasping at the carved marble railing.

"You taught me most of what I know…what do you need my help with?"

"Speaker abilities. The bow will have both magical enchantments and spirits. I t will be my final creation. One I wield, one you do, two were lost and one was broken, this shall be the last one." Liandras told Merol.

"Will they allow it?" Merol looked at him.

"They will not intervene. T he other side isn't playing by the book either, and they know what will happen if whoever leads them, wins."

"What is that?" Merol asked trying not to show his worry.

"I do not know."

"You don't? Have you used Farsight?" Merol was unable to hide his surprise and worry.

"Not of late…it gives me nightmares…and the fact that Aer'andil has to fight… it …"

"I've decided…I do not want the throne but I will aid my brother in Dara's civil war…it is my homeland and I care for it."

"That is good news…ah! Feldon Leolin!" Liandras said as an elf approached them.

"My King, you summoned me?" The Elf said and bowed his head.

"Yes, you are to start educating my son. Starting tomorrow."

"In what, my King?"

"Everything, our language, our customs, fighting with the dagger and spear. With a bow and magic above all. I want you to train him like your father trained us. A nd when they leave our fair islands, you are to go with them…I believe you also have a score to settle with one of the residents of Zah Dah."

"Indeed I have if…that resident is to be found…it will be done, my King." Feldon bowed and left.

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