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In a land of shadows

By Nuredhel

Romance / Adventure

Most cruel of fates


This is a sequel to my story Hearts of Fire souls of ice, and it may be confusing for anyone who hasn't read that so it is a good idea to read that first.

Characters from the prequel:

Nireariel: Thranduil's wife, she is an albino carrying a curse and a blessing. She is carrying a piece of the very song of creation and is a very powerful healer, she can if need be save a dying person by offering death another person instead but it is a most terrible choice to make.

Astarion: Son of Nireariel and Thranduil: He is married to Lindelle and has four children, has inherited his mother's ability to heal others and also the song of creation.

Raina: Astarion's sister: Married but no children yet, husband Rocarion. She is also a healer and carries the song too.

Ravenne: Main character of this story, Sister to Raina and Astarion, they are triplets but not identical. Ravenne is a weird one, she is carrying the curses Raina and Astarion should have had, there is always two curses following the song of creation, one of the flesh and one of the soul. She has the power to kill by her will alone and it is a terrible gift/curse.

Astar: Nireariel's father.

Cunarin.: Thranduil's brother who died before Thranduil was even born. He was his father's favorite and Oropher turned his memory into something the ellon never was and thus Thranduil never managed to get his father's trust nor love or approval. Cunarin died very young and under suspicious circumstances.

Meldariel: Orophers wife, Thranduil's mother.

Morilinde: Legolas wife of a once hidden tribe of Avari elves, he saved her life when he lived in Ithilien and she is a wild one. No living children yet.

Short summary of the story prequel to this: Thranduil loses his wife whom he never loved, after a long time he meets Nireariel and knows she is his one, they have to fight many problems to have each other. They want children but it takes a long time before they have any luck. When Nireariel finally becomes pregnant she is expecting twins. But there are three babies, not two and the last born is born with the curses her siblings should have had. She is the huntress, the lioness.

Some years later Nireariel gets pregnant again but it goes wrong and Ravenne kills the baby in its mother's womb to save Nireariel, Nireariel get so weak and depressed Thranduil decides to sail to the blessed realm to save her and to prevent his daughter from becoming a monster. The question is if he involuntarily has stepped from the ashes and into the fire



They say the worst feeling

Is the longing for what's just out of reach

What your heart desires, for what you yearn

Yet cannot have or hold

Is it in truth better to have loved and lost

Then to never have loved at all?


She was circling her opponent slowly, the tips of her swords almost touching the ground as she never even once averted her glance from his. She was breathing hard and sweat was covering her skin, they had been sparring for several hours and she felt how the excitement and mixed eagerness and concentration made her feel more alive than for a long time. She awaited his next move, you could never know how he would attack and that unpredictability was one of the reasons why he was regarded as one of the best swordsmen ever. But she beat him six times out of ten and she was proud of it. Suddenly he was moving, the blade of his long slender sword came towards her slender neck at a terrifying speed and she hissed and blocked it with her shorter slim blade, she spun out of reach and engaged in an attack of her own. The clashing of steel against steel and the sound of their boots against the dusty ground of the sparring arena was all the sound to be heard.

The speed of their swordplay was impressive, none of them stood still for even a second and she knew that this would have been impossible for everybody else. It would have been too dangerous and even an elf dies of a sword blade through the heart. But they knew each other well and had absolute control, they were in no real danger. She saw her chance and took it, for a short second his left side was unprotected and she nicked the leather of his tunic almost gently, if she had wanted to she could have pierced his chest completely. He sighed and bowed his head. "You got me again!"

She grinned and bowed back. "Yes I did, is this the fifth time in a row ada?"

He sighed and smiled, put his sword back into the sheath. "More like the seventh I think, you are outdoing your old adar, I am proud of you penneth."

She could only smile but she felt a bit sad. There were still things she never would learn, things and tricks he had learned the hard way. Here there were no wars, no dangers at all. She had nothing she could use to perfect her skills and why should she? She sighed and placed her blades in a rack by the entrance, she was the only one who used this place and she felt like an outcast at times. He shook the sweat out of his long silvery blond hair and sent her a wry grin. "I thank you daughter, fighting you like that makes me feel quite alive once more."

She had to laugh. "Me too ada, I get bored without a little sparring every now and then."

He sent her a glance from the corner of his eye. "So, when are you to return?"

She braided her long white hair again, tried to look less like some wild thing and more like a lady, she knew that her mother didn't approve of anything else. "The day after tomorrow, I am sorry but I can't stay any longer."

He sighed and nodded. "I know, but it is so darn hard to watch you go again, we miss you."

She squirmed. "Ada, it is alright, I am safe. There is no danger, I can take care of myself."

He sighed once more. "That is exactly what I am worried about. You spend so much time by yourself, it is not healthy, not for a young lady like yourself."

They walked up the stairs towards the entrance of the palace and she sighed and leaned towards a pillar, dried sweat from her brow. "Ada, you know me, I have no choice."

He looked her deep into the eyes. "Yes, I know you and yet I still have hope. Your siblings are doing so well and…"

She shook her head. "Are they really? Legolas is still struggling with the things he has been through, he won't admit to it but he is suffering. And Raina, how many times has she been disappointed and heartbroken by now, ten?"

He winced, his eyes were filled with hurt. "Don't say it penneth, I know what I did and why. I had to save your mother and the old world had nothing left to offer us. The time of men had begun, we would have faded away into the shadows had we stayed."

She took a deep breath. "Maybe that would have been for the better, but then again, the old world has changed so much and became a new world, at least for a few of us."

He nodded. "I wish I could have gone with you, explored. But your mother would have killed me if I even suggested that for her."

She had to laugh. "Yes, naneth would go ballistic."

She pulled at the hem of her leather tunic. "I will take a bath ada, do I see you at dinner?"

He nodded. "Of course Ravenne, we will all be there."

She bowed her head and ran off, a bath and some clean clothes were all she needed to feel good once more.

The bathroom was huge and luxurious and they had drilled down into underground hot springs, it was even better than the baths back in the old palace. She closed her eyes and tried to remember how it all had been but she found that she couldn't. She had been barely more than a child when they had sailed west and to her this home of her birth had become little more than a fading memory. To her parents and older brother it was a source of great pain and grief, they were missing their old life and old ways. She went into the water and had to think about the centuries past, she had lost track of how many ennin had passed since they arrived there in Aman. It was too a memory she had problems grasping onto. Everything had changed so fast and she remembered how they had settled down in a city along the coast. She had been quite intrigued by the new land at first, then she got incredibly bored. Nothing happened there, it was just too freaking perfect. Yes, her mother healed and they met relatives who had sailed or passed away but it did not ease the fact that Ravenne was bored.

After a couple centuries her ada had had enough of this, the inland was vast and much of it unexplored. He sent people out and after some decades they found the right place. A mountain valley surrounded by forest, a huge hill in the middle of it. And so began a long and tedious work, he had made the drawings himself and they were amazing. Slowly the hill was transformed into a copy of not only the old palace of Mirkwood but also of his home in Lindon, of the lost palace of Amon Lanc and also the one at Emyn Duir. Suddenly her father had something to do and he was once more filled with vigor and his eyes were shining as he made planes and helped out with the work itself. He was breaking rocks and felling trees and Ravenne saw why her mother had fallen in love with him. He was stunning and she felt how the old sadness settled itself within her heart once more. It took more than three centuries before the palace was finished but time was everything they had and the finished result stunning.

And slowly there was change, a change invisible from one day to the next but over the decades it became evident. More and more elves moved into the area, most of silvan origin and after yet a couple of centuries it became rather evident to everybody that the old kingdom of Greenwood was resurrected. Her father was once more a king and this time to a huge population of forest elves, and they did little to remain in contact with the rest of the continent. They had everything they needed there in the forests of Orome and the rest of Aman did not bother them. It was a different world.

Ravenne had been helping out with the work but her strange nature had become more evident over the years, the curse she carried had become rather obvious to her and she started to shun all others, even her family.

It had dawned on her when they reached Aman, she was a very beautiful young elleth and some said that she was even more so than her mother. She had seen how her body changed and she was waiting to meet her one, to find her true mate. Her gentle and soft sister met her one soon after they arrived, a young scribe just as mellow as herself and they were such a perfect match. Astarion also met his one and got married and he had four children and he was very happy. Raina had problems on the other hand, she wanted children but she had miscarried ten times, she got halfway through her pregnancy, then she lost the baby and she had become rather weird because of it. But she had found her one and Ravenne had hoped so hard that she too would have that blessing.

As all youngsters did she too flirted and tried the more innocent types of intimacy but she soon discovered something which frightened her. She felt nothing! She heard the other ellith giggle and tell each other how they felt when some handsome ellon kissed them and Ravenne let some ellyn she liked kiss her and it felt just as if her brother did it. There was no spark, no desire at all. She tried touching herself too but nothing happened. She became confused and thought that maybe she was one of those ellith who preferred her own gender but no, she did not get turned on by other females either. Her mother had explained about the curses she carried, the ones her siblings should have had. She told her daughter that there always was one curse for the flesh and one for the soul. Nireariel was cursed with her albinism and with the power which meant that she could save someone who was dying but then someone else had to die in their place.

Ravenne knew of her soul curse, she could kill by her will alone and it was her greatest fear to lose control and maybe kill someone by mistake. This had to be her curse for the flesh and she tried desperately to see if it was so or if she just was a little slow to develop physically. She let one young ellon she liked claim her maidenhood behind the stables on a warm summer day. She had hoped that she perhaps would be normal as soon as she wasn't a maiden any longer but no. It hurt like hell, and she immediately regretted it but she felt not even the slightest touch of pleasure or lust. It became almost a habit of hers, to get ellyn to bed her just to see if they could awaken something in her which resembled the passion she could see blooming between her parents.

She spied on other couples while they were at it and she felt nothing even then. She could as might as well have watched paint dry!

And so she slowly accepted that her fate was to never feel love. She did love her family fiercely but she was incapable of loving anyone else. It felt painful, and she started to seek her own company more than that of others. It hurt her parents but she was unable to tell them of this. It was embarrassing and it would make them so sad on her behalf. She did not want to cause them pain. Then she followed her father back to the coast on a trip to secure a trading contract with the merchants. She had been sparring against one of her father's guards when a stranger had approached her. She had recognized him instantly and he had been a hero to her for as long as she could remember. Everybody regarded him as the best warrior ever, no one else had ever managed to kill a balrog and been allowed a new life and she was in awe of him. They had sparred and he won, but only by a little and so they met every day for the duration of her father's stay there and sparred. He was impressed by her, she did in fact win a few times and not because he let her, she felt proud because of this.

Then things changed, he started to treat her in a different way and she soon realized that he found her attractive, that he wanted her. The idea of him wishing to lay with her should have made her ecstatic with joy but it did not make her feel anything.

She let him have her one night just before she had to return back home. They had been in his rooms and he had whispered tender words to her, caressed her and told her how beautiful she was and how honored he was by her trust. She had felt nothing, it was not that she was insensitive, she did feel him in her, felt how he moved and how he finally released his seed into her but there was no pleasure. Normally she would have at least pretended to enjoy it but she knew that he was too experienced to fall for that trick. It confused him and she could see that clearly, he was used to giving his partners as much pleasure as he could and she didn't react to anything he was doing. She didn't mention her curse, she did not want to explain that to him and he had lain there holding her close and caressing her gently until they both fell asleep.

In the middle of the night she had woken up, he was tossing around in his sleep, whimpering and moaning covered in sweat and it was not hard to understand that he was having what had to be the mother of all nightmares. She remembered what her mother once had told her, strong men don't gain their strength for free, there is always a price to pay and she suspected that his past had left him emotionally scarred. He was terrified and when she grasped him and shook him awake he had sought her body once more, almost desperately. She had understood that he tried to forget the images within his mind, that he sought a way to hide from himself. He was barely conscious and his eyes were black and frightened.

This time he did make her scream but not in pleasure, he was beyond conscious thought and he was rough with her, she had never thought that it could hurt like that but he thrust into her with such force she realized how a kick to the nether regions had to feel for a male, she tried to make him stop but he did not react at all, and he was far too heavy and strong for her to push away. She felt tears running down her cheeks and had to bite her lip not to scream out loud. She did understand him, but she felt so darn helpless. When he finished with a roar and collapsed on top of her she felt only relief, it was over. He just laid there gasping and then he came to his senses and realized what he had done and his despair was terrible to behold. He almost begged her to take his dagger and end him, he did not deserve anything better than that. He had taken her by force and the penalty for rape among their people was death, although it was a crime almost unheard of.

Ravenne was hurting still, she was sore and her lower belly was aching like crazy but she tried to ease his mind, take away some of the guilt. He had not been himself and she did forgive him but she knew that he couldn't forgive himself. He had abused her trust and her body and to him that was enough to cause a serious depression. She sat there for a long time just holding him and she knew that they had some things in common, both had problems of which the world were oblivious. She had made him swear not to do anything stupid like trying to end his own life or telling anyone, she did not want to explain this to her parents. She remembered how gentle he had been earlier in the evening and knew that it had been his real self. The wild thing that had hurt her had been the ghost of the horrors of his past, it hadn't been him. He had calmed down and she had hidden her feelings well, he hadn't realized how much pain she was in. She knew that she should have seen a healer but she couldn't, any healer would immediately suspect foul play and nobody would probably believe her if she tried to claim that she liked it rough. She was bleeding and covered with bruises and knew that she had been physically injured, but she did not really care any longer. She made herself a solemn vow that she never again would let anyone get near her in this way, it was no point in even trying.

She left his room just before sunrise and she had embraced him and told him again that she forgave him for what he had done, he had cried and she felt so weird. She had discovered a strength within herself she hadn't been aware of before and she had seen that even the strongest of heroes may be haunted by the memories of the past. She could have told anyone and there would have been hell for sure but it would have affected them both. They both swore to keep this between themselves and never mention this night again and Ravenne had at least learned a few new things about herself. Her vow to herself would be as adamant as the foundations of the earth, she would never let anyone touch her again.

She still remembered how beautiful he had been, how gentle and caring and she had cried when she returned to her own room. Her destiny was to never know what love was and it was the cruelest of fates.

She had stopped to even speak to those outside of the family and she spent more and more time in the forests. Only there did she feel at home, only there did she feel as if she belonged. She would hunt and fend for herself and her trips became longer and longer. She was gone for weeks, then for months and in the end she would be gone for whole years and her family was left in ever increasing unease and worry.

When she returned she was getting harder and harder to recognize. Her parents remembered what the old fortuneteller had told them on her naming day and they felt how their hearts filled with dread. Her body changed a lot, she was already tall, almost as tall as her father but now she became muscular and lean like a panther. Her skin darkened and her eyes too, they were a deep golden color now, almost like molten gold and her pupils had become the vertical slits of a cat's eyes. Her face was still unbelievably beautiful but a bit haunted and almost alien in a way. Her thick white hair a tangled mass and she was skinny and looked almost gaunt. She had gone feral and the avari who never had wanted to leave middle earth could tell of some of their own kin who had taken that path in the past. They forgot they were elves and became little more than animals, Nireariel feared that their daughter would be lost to them, she was always so worried. Ravenne was probably the most deadly warrior anybody could imagine and this world had few dangers but a mother's heart is always thinking the worse.

One evening Nireariel had entered her daughter's room, just by a hunch. Ravenne had been gone for a year and a half and Nireariel had almost screamed when she saw the creature crouching by the window. Her daughter had looked like something out of a nightmare, just skin and bones and muscle, tangled hair and wild glowing eyes which reflected the light in a very eerie way. She had managed to keep calm and greeted her and Ravenne had gotten onto her feet, moved through the room with a grace and smoothness that was unnatural even for an elf. She never took her eyes off her mother and Nireariel discovered much to her horror that Ravenne had forgotten how to speak! Something had to be done or their precious child would become a forest creature, a monster of the fairytales. Thranduil had tried to talk to her but to no prevail, his daughters wild eyes and flaring temper frightened him like nothing else he had ever encountered. Nireariel tried a more gentle approach and slowly she managed to get Ravenne's trust once more. Ravenne told her everything, she did not try to hide any of her problems and Nireariel was heartbroken. She could hardly believe that the gods could be this heartless but it was true. Her beautiful daughter was probably going to spend her life alone and it was with a heavy heart she told the rest of the family of this sad truth.

Ravenne refused to speak of it again and it became a silent agreement between the members of the family that nobody spoke of this with Ravenne present. It hurt them all but they had their own lives to think about and Ravenne had always been special. She spent her days in the woods and was thus content and they never tried to make her change her ways, it would not have been a success anyhow. She was as stubborn as her father and her mind would never veer of course when she had made herself a goal.

Then everything changed and the change was immense, one that had huge effects on everything. The wizards discovered dimensional gates which allowed travel between the blessed realm and the world of men. First only a few dared to cross over and they returned and told of a world which had become so different it was hard to believe. Technology and science ruled and the humans were wreaking havoc on the environment. They were in shock to see what had happen to the Arda they had known and even though they wanted to explore it was deemed as very dangerous. Only a few were allowed to enter earth and slowly they brought back information and new knowledge. Over the decades the travelers became many and a few colonies were established. Most of those who chose to cross over were young elves but also some old ones who missed Arda and the dangers and the vigorous rhythm of its life.

Then the world in between was discovered and it was a shock because this was a world of which nothing had been known. It was an entirely alien territory and it was as if a dimensional pocket had been slid in between Aman and what had been middle earth. It was a vast land and it was a land where the shadows ruled because it was as Arda had been in the first parts of its life. There was no sun or moon, only the stars lit the nights and it was a wild and fierce place filled with mysteries and dangers. The elves who dared to enter this realm were shocked to discover that it had inhabitants, also elves. It was as if this was a copy of Arda left by Eru just after the awakening of the first born.

The people who populated this realm which was called Lithui(Ash) by its inhabitants were nothing like the elves of Arda. Yes they were of the same race but they had evolved in a very different direction both when it came to physiology and culture. The first encounters were tense and difficult due to a language barrier it proved to be hard to overcome and the Ce'agar as they called themselves were suspicious and very hesitant to trust strangers.

They were tall, much taller than an ordinary elf and more muscular too. Their eyes were rather large and they could see in almost complete darkness. Expeditions were sent and they told of a culture which was based on the survival of the fittest. This world was very dangerous and few lived to be as much as ten ennin. In fact only two out of ten lived to the day which marked their start of a life as adults. The Ce'agar where different from other elves in one very crucial way, they were no stronger than humans until they were physically mature when it came to fighting off disease or infections. Once they had matured they were tough as stone, they could survive injuries which would kill any other creature and the healers who first examined this race said that the only sure way to kill a Ce'agar warrior was to decapitate him completely.

They started to learn sindarin from the elves who came to study their culture and they accepted the presence of these strangers but regarded them with a mix of patronizing goodwill and downright disgust. They found the elves of Aman to be weak and flawed and plainly spoken sissies and cowards.

But an understanding was slowly being developed and the two races accepted each other but they kept their distance too. As the colonies on earth were established and time went by the elves of Aman saw a new opportunity to have new experiences and learn new things and Ravenne had chosen to travel to earth where she worked as a guard in one of the colonies. Lithui could only be visited by some specially selected elves and only by a few at a time. They did not want to influence their culture or introduce dangerous germs and viruses.

Ravenne had worked as a guard for a decade and she had been in awe and shock of how the world was changing and not in the least how fast. From horse drawn carriages to nuclear powered ships and the internet in less than a century. She loved the fast pace of this new age and she had calmed down and the feral look in her eyes had almost disappeared. She thrived with her task and returned a couple of times each year to spend time with the family. She brought gifts for the children and told her stories of unbelievable wonders and her parents did breathe many a silent sigh of relief. Her future looked secure and she was doing a great job too, everybody was bragging about her. She was indeed her father's daughter and many respected her and looked up to her. She had an uncanny ability to predict trouble and she understood this strange and complex human society like none others. She felt like her life had a purpose after all and for many years she was as happy as she could be. She only wished that she could have felt the joy others shared but she had accepted that her body was frigid, she was a fighter and not a lover and she sought to hone her skills as much as she could.

She washed her hair and stared at herself in the mirror, she was pretty, more than pretty. Some said that she was hauntingly beautiful and she was glad the magic of the Istari made them look like humans when they passed through the portal. She had brought gifts this time too and she had taken especially joy in presenting her father with an old Japanese katana. The blade had been insanely expensive and she had fallen in love with it the moment she saw it in the catalogue of a major auction firm. It was exquisite and she would never forget the look in her ada's eyes when he opened the gift. He knew that this was a very special thing to receive and he was in awe of the magnificent craftsmanship. He had problems believing that humans could have created something this perfect and she knew that it was placed on the mantelpiece in his own chambers so that everybody who visited could admire it.

She got out of the water and got into a dress. She preferred to wear loose pants and a long tunic but she did use a dress when at home in respect for her mother. She did decide that she looked good and then she braided her hair and went to the dining hall. She could hear voices up ahead and smiled, whenever the family was gathered it was always a lot of racket. Astarion's kids were very vigorous and noisy and she just hoped that Raina wouldn't feel too bad about seeing them around her. She entered the room and grinned, they were sitting by the table and they were ready to eat. She could immediately see that Raina had been crying, it was such an irony, she had the power to heal others but she could not fix her own body. Ravenne knew that she probably had miscarried one more time, she no longer told anyone she was pregnant, they usually learned of it when it was too late. Nireariel had tried to help but to no prevail and Ravenne felt so sorry for her sister. She loved her siblings dearly and wished them nothing but joy.

Legolas and his wife sat by the table too, they were obviously discussing something because she could see how Morilinde tried to charm her husband into submission. The small elleth was just as elegant and ethereal as ever but she had a wild streak to her since she was of strange origin and had a most peculiar past. Ravenne knew that Legolas had saved her life while living in Ithilien and they had no children yet. Nireariel smiled to her daughter and Ravenne found her place at the table, Thranduil said a small prayer and they could begin to eat. The food was good but rather simple. Only at feasts and celebrations did they make anything special and Ravenne did not mind, she could eat raw meat if she needed to. To her this was luxury. Nireariel was telling them of a group of elves who had arrived earlier that day with some injured youngsters, they had tried to ride some of the wild horses which lived in the woods and Thranduil grinned and laughed. It was very typical of the young to do such stupid things and Ravenne just smiled. She knew that this land did such things with the younger generations, they faced no challenges and sought excitement and thrills in ways that became more and more dangerous. Many of those she spent her time with on earth were young and to them it was like a breath of fresh air.

The meal was over and Ravenne walked with Astarion down to the courtyard, some gardeners were trying to shape some bushes into animals but they were not exactly good at it, Ravenne had problems even guessing what they were supposed to look like. Astarion scolded his youngest son for having dropped a plate on the floor during the dinner and breaking it but he did not even raise his voice and Ravenne knew that her brother's patience was as vast as the ocean when it came to his boisterous offspring. His wife was the perfect housewife and she used all her time making sure that their home was perfect and that everybody was perfectly happy, well fed and not the least well dressed. Ravenne could perhaps have hated her very guts had she not been so obviously kind and warm hearted. Astarion sighed and his eyes were a bit sad. "You have heard I guess?"

Ravenne shook her head. "Don't need that, I saw it."

Astarion swallowed. "It is horrible you know, she is getting more desperate every time. I fear she will lose her mind, and perhaps Rocarion too."

Ravenne gasped. "No? He would not leave her?! He can't!"

Astarion sighed and leaned against the wall. "He doesn't want to no, but it may be the only solution, as long as they are together she will keep trying to conceive and every time it ends this way."

Ravenne looked down, she felt so sorry for her sister. "He could withhold his fea you know, both souls has to cooperate if there is to be a child. Without that there cannot be a new soul."

Astarion made a grimace. "I have spoken to him, he is just as upset as her, he fears that it is his fault, that he isn't strong enough to support her. I don't think it is his fault at all. I think it is something strictly biological."

Ravenne felt a cold chill run down her spine. "I took the curse from you both while in our mother's womb. Do you think it could be a last remnant of what her curse should have been?"

Astarion squeezed his eyes together, he looked thoughtful. "It is actually a possibility, I know of your …problem. That Raina is incapable of carrying a baby to full term could be something of the same sorts."

Ravenne could just sigh and nod. "Then there is no hope for her is there?"

Astarion sent her a sad smile. "I fear you might be right sister, but we have hope still. Miracles do happen you know, sometimes the gods are playing with our fates and the game may change within the blink of an eye."

Ravenne nodded and felt how the cold solid stone against her hands made this whole conversation strangely unreal. "I know, I just wish I knew the meaning behind it all."

Astarion sent her a sad grin. "If we knew that we would be gods and that my dear sister we are not!"

She smiled at him, he looked so much like their mother when it came to the shape of his face and the gracefulness of his movements but he also had his father's height and she knew that a whole bunch of ellith had become heart broken when he found his one and wed her. She petted her brother on his shoulder. "At least our family line is secured, you have sired enough elflings to keep the house of Oropher going for several millennia."

Astarion sighed and there was something dark in his eyes. "Speaking of the devil, have you met our uncle lately?"

Ravenne lifted an eyebrow, she made a grimace. "No, not this time. I met Cunarin last time I was home, it was…interesting!"

Astarion looked as if he had tasted something rather rotten. "That's the right word sister, I know he is my uncle but I hate his guts, he is so darn arrogant. I would have guessed that spending several ages in the halls of Mandos would make him a more agreeable person but no, he is a load of horse dung!"

Ravenne had to laugh. "Yes, he is. But remember he was so young when he died and he never learned anything about living, and I don't think he learned more while being among the other awaiting their chance to enter a new body."

Astarion chuckled. "Weird really, Ada told me a lot of Daeradar and his ways and I was scared like hell to meet him but he was not that bad. That is one ellon who has changed and that to the better."

Ravenne grinned. "I guess getting killed can do that to you yes. I know Ada was terrified too when he learned that his father had been re-embodied and was waiting to meet him. I have never seen ada that scared but it went surprisingly well. They spoke, cried, spoke some more and got drunk together."

Astarion nodded and watched as his youngest daughter tried to get her nanny to bathe in a fountain with her. He smiled and Ravenne was amazed by how beautiful and good her brother was. He and their sister was just pure light while she on the other hand sometimes felt as if though she consisted of just darkness. "The best way to rebuild broken bonds yes, I think Oropher was even more scared than ada, he knew what he had done and I think he still is terribly sorry."

Astarion had a sad expression in his eyes. "You are right, he is still suffering. He treated Ada like shit and he almost broke him completely. There are going to be a lot of healing being done before those two are done with the past and has everything put behind them."

Ravenne had to laugh. "Yes, but remember when Cunarin thought that he could order ada around? By Saurons teeth did he get a surprise! "

Astarion nodded, his eyes were glittering with mirth. "Ada hasn't been ruling as a king for several millennia without getting the needed authority, and a vocabulary of cusswords worthy of an award. I have never seen anyone turn pale that fast."

Ravenne bit her lower lip, she had actually sparred against her uncle once, he had been very patronizing and quite convinced that an elleth was unable to fight, she had proven him very wrong! She had beat him thoroughly and well and he had left the sparring ring limping and looking as if he had swallowed a pound of sour lemons.

Astarion shook his head. "Elinde, don't push your nanny!"

Ravenne smiled and Astarion bowed his head. "I have to go sister, it appears that my offspring is trying to drown our dear nanny in the horse's water trough"

Ravenne just nodded and turned around. She could see that a caravan of wagons bringing goods from the coast had arrived and the drivers were standing by them fixing the harnesses of their horses or just chatting away. She was getting curious, she wanted to know if anything of interest had happened back there and she walked towards them and they saw her and bowed their heads in respect. "So, is there any news from the coast?"

The drivers just shrugged. "Not much, there are some new settlements being build and they want to expand the main roads. "

The man speaking was a rather short ellon with a strange sandy color to his hair and pale blue eyes. Ravenne had not seen him before and he was dressed rather poorly. Another ellon petted his horse on its neck. "Well, there are some rumors spreading from up north, someone found some dead elves."

Ravenne frowned. "Dead elves? Here? That is impossible?"

The ellon nodded. "Yes, but I heard it from a guard, he was rather adamant too. It was true. He said that at least five elves had been found dead in their home."

Ravenne shook her head in disbelief. "Could it have been some sort of suicide? I know that some are driven insane by this place"

The driver just shrugged. "I have no clue, that was all I was told."

Ravenne smiled. "Well, if something serious is going on I am sure we will hear of it soon."

She just turned and left and little did she know that those words would come back to haunt her later. She had heard the first dark omen, and she did not yet know of it but soon a new sort of darkness would fall over her world and everything would change, and the change would be dramatic.

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