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Chapter 1

Neàmlight Pàhr’st (Moonlight Forest)

Dawn was approaching, the next day in my life. I sat up in bed looking out of the window, listening to the birds and smelling the air of the new day. Simple things like that always comforted me. Leaning on my arms I glanced to my left, there lying next to me was the very person I tried to get close to for so long. I smiled as I stared at him peacefully sleeping. My thoughts were racing of all the possibilities. Could this work? Could he be different than Gale? As I think about it, I never really had much time with my late bond partner, Gale.

I had been with Gale for 200 years. That’s a short time for an elf. He died on one of his adventures seeking old elven relics and artefacts. His last trip ended with him being at the ruins of Thorn’s keep in the Swamps. Apparently it was the resting place of the elven God Velderen’s Staff.

When the Gods had left Feln, they had hidden away their Godly weapons, vowing that whoever finds them are worthy of their power. However, only the races of those same Gods, can wield them. Demi-Gods can wield all Godly weapons.

According to legend, Velderen’s Staff is supposedly able to allow the wielder to successfully conjure an animal familiar, and it is also said that they can produce beautiful plants and crops and are then fully resistant to disease and rodents.

These past five years seemed to have moved extraordinarily slowly, feeling I would be locked in grief’s miserable hands. Gale had travelled with three other relic seeking illuins. I knew the moment when only the three other illuins returned and not Gale, that something was wrong. I could no longer feel him, or sense him. I had gone with a search party to find them. When we reached the Swamps, we had found a set of tracks leading away. Only these tracks outnumbered Gale. Who did these tracks belong to? Were Gale’s among them, either following or joining whoever these tracks belong to? We followed wherever they lead us to. These tracks were heading south over the Tiber River eventually coming up to the village. We had asked the locals questions about a possible large party with an elf among them. They seemed reluctant to provide any information, they all seemed fearful. Whoever had travelled through here had put the fear of death into these people. I didn’t want to stop searching, but after months and months of looking nothing came up. It’s as if they had disappeared from the face of the earth. I had known the time to give up searching was now, the trail was cold. Nobody had seen or heard anything. I could not communicate with Gale telepathically as the link was severed. I didn’t want to believe it, but if I can no longer feel or hear him that meant that he was truly dead. So I and my search party returned home. Perhaps something would turn up?

As I returned, I had dismounted my horse, Spirit and went straight to my chamber. I had often tried to ask the three illuins who had travelled with him, to speak of what had transpired there, but they would not speak of it, either out of fear or that they simply could not remember. But something had happened to them…something terrible.

Sad faces and stares had followed me as I walked away. Since then, days turned into weeks, but no word had come. The days were sunny, like it didn’t care for my problems. I had walked to the gardens away of prying eyes. Everywhere I went, it felt like hard rocks had been pounding me from all directions. I had never felt this bad since my mother had died. I pushed all thoughts away. ‘Time to move on,’ I said to myself. I rose from the bench to head towards the training grounds, as I was ascending the steps, father had startled me.

‘Oh, I wish you wouldn’t seclude yourself from everyone. You are not the only person who mourns for him,’ he said as he was gazing at me with his soft eyes.

I just walked up to him and leaned my head on his shoulders as I wept silently. He placed his arms around me tightly.

‘I’m not giving up on him. Not until I know he is alive or dead, I have to know to put my heart at rest. Living in this suspense is eating me up inside, slowly. And yet I know that I have to move on also.’ I said quietly.

‘I know. What I felt when your mother died, it was like the world had just ended. Like nothing seemed real anymore. If you need to talk, Tarì, you know where to find me,’ he slowly pulled away from me and looked into my eyes. He must have seen something in them then for he added, ‘I see your mother in you every day, she was strong and so are you. You will be fine, child.’ He observed. Then he added, ‘Let us release some lights tonight, and a celebratory dinner to honour his memory.’ He kissed my forehead before turning and walking back up the stairs.

A little while later I decided to head back to my chambers. I walked straight to the wardrobe trying to figure out what to wear for this evening. I laid my hand on a pale blue dress with gold filigree around the edges. The dress had many layers from the waist down, giving it a very loose and comfortable look. With a V-neck look at the front and my arms and shoulders covered, it made for a suitable dress for the occasion, but I didn’t want it to feel like a mourning dress. But it will do. But before I decide to put the dress on, I wanted to wash myself first. So I made my way down to the bathing area reserved for us ‘nobles’. By all the Gods, I hated feeling like a privileged brat. I climbed into one of the nice hot baths. Some serving girls were ready to help wash and scrub at me, but I decided to send them away. I wanted to be alone, so I washed myself and relaxed after a long while, before getting out. I must have dozed off for a time as the water was only warm when I awoke, so I stood up drying myself before placing a bath gown on and making my way back to my chambers. I just stood there staring at my dress. How did it come to this? I asked myself. Moving my thoughts aside I removed the gown and carefully climbed into the dress. After finishing fiddling with it, I then pulled my hair into an upward messy bun and clasped it into place.

As I made my way to the outside dining area, I was shocked to see so many people present for the occasion. Above us were the magical floating lights father had promised to be released when the time had come. I had passed many groups of illuins, all wishing me sincere condolences and I thanking them for coming. I had made my way to my seat on my father’s right, with my mother in-law Queen Yandrìel to his left and both my brothers beside her while Ariel, my sister, took up her seat next to me. A short time afterwards, Ariel, Cylar and Vokì all stood before me.

‘Oh sis, I am so sorry for your loss, I really am. I just want you to know that we all miss him. He was like a big brother to me as I was growing up. Oh, and I just want to give you a big sisterly hug, come here,’ I could hear and feel the sadness within Ariel’s voice.

‘Hey, what about us, come Vokì let’s join in,’ Cylar said and they did. Both Cylar’s and Vokì’s arms surrounded Ariel and myself, which then turned out to be a big family hug. Then, moments later, everyone who arrived, joined in. I couldn’t help but smile and laugh as the celebrations lifted my spirits a little, but a tear still managed to crawl down my cheek. I don’t know what it was, but Cylar and Vokì always knew how to put a smile on my face and even make me laugh, especially in the hardest times.

‘Oh, thank you everyone, you don’t know how much that meant to me. I really needed that. You all shined a light for me and I followed it, so thank you again for lighting my way. Let us release these glowing lights in remembrance of Gale…’ At that moment my tears just flowed from my eyes. My father stood up and continued my speech for me.

‘Let the lights watch over him as he watches over us, we shall not fail him.’ As King Elûvian finished the speech, the lights were released and everyone stood and watched in silence as they floated higher and further towards the stars.

I had suddenly realised where I was.

Reality had struck me in the face. I had sat there staring at Azreàl through all that time, and in what seemed like an eternity, suddenly seemed only moments ago. I now watched Azreàl stirring to wakefulness, and he saw the smile I had on my face. His eyes lit up, and he smiled back at me as I looked into his eyes. ‘How long were you awake?’ he said.

‘Oh, not that long, I was just running through my various thoughts that seem to pop up when they feel like it.’

‘What sort of thoughts?’ He asked innocently.

‘The sort I wish I could forget. Like the time I lost Gale.’ Tears nearly fell from my eyes, but I had blinked them away.

‘You don’t really mean that. Those memories are what define us; you can’t just wish it all away. That was your life. He made that for you. You made it for yourself. Promise me this; don’t ever forget the harshest memories. They are what make you… you.’

‘I guess so. Ok, I promise. There are you happy now?’ I asked with a small smile upon my face.

‘Yeah, that will do,’ he said before pulling me towards him and landing a well-placed kiss on my lips. ‘I probably should have said this before, but I had always loved you. Way before you had met Gale; I just didn’t know how to say it then. I was so scared and nervous, and young back then that I thought I was just going to collapse right in front of you. I know it sounds silly when I say it now, but that was how I felt then. I hope you can forgive me for not trying to win your heart.’

‘That is the most romantic and cute thing anyone has ever said to me. You didn’t need to be scared of me, I didn’t bite then you know. Besides I’m glad you’re saying this now, it makes this relationship feel more and more like fate.’ I replied.

‘I see,’ he smiled and threw a pillow at me. I had a mild look of shock on my face before throwing the pillow back. It soon turned into a pillow fight, but no sooner had it begun that it suddenly ended.

Azreàl was on the floor clutching a pillow in his hands and laughing. I was overlooking the edge of the bed and asked ‘What’s so funny?’ He replied ‘I don’t think I’ve had this much fun in years. You always seem to know how to bring out my fun side.’

I leaned over the edge of the bed and kissed him deeply on the lips. He grabbed me and pulled me off the bed. Both of us looking deeply into each other’s eyes, and our romantic lust took over.

Next Chapter: Chapter 2