Del insisted that he go with me now that the Siths had sensed my presence and so would other Aelfe kinds. I didn’t have the time to question or argue what he meant, I just wanted to get back. We emerged from a part of the lake closer to the school and I prayed that no one would be around to spot me in my strange attire.
If I’d had another choice I would not have worn them, but I had practically begged Kelu since I was in such a hurry to get back... after she made me promise to return and speak to the Elders. To anyone passing I looked to be in some sort of half shirt half corset-like top, attached to knee-length tights and at the thighs there was extra cloth, that hung off with a pleated flare which reminded me of butterfly wings.
Kelu had assured me that it was ‘high fashion’ in Elvaraz and I accepted the subtle burgundy and black color, noting that the brighter greens and blue would only draw more attention and aid in making me feel more mortified once spotted by my flatmates.
“I thought you said the portal was destroyed,” I mentioned, making conversation while trying to ignore the anxiety building up inside me as we neared the stone walkway.
“The one we came through was, there’s more than one way in and out of realms. The usual way is entering through a check-point portal so we can still use the same lake we just won’t come out through the same area in Elvaraz.”
“Hmm, ok... just follow me after I get to the door and don’t walk, run” I instructed. I was glad I had left everything in my room and the door open. I couldn’t imagine being able to survive going to the office for a key replacement in my attire.
“Why?” Del asked. I ignored him making sure the coast was clear before I took off slamming into my door and fumbling with the lock for a couple seconds and then finally pushing my way in. Del walked in soon after, closing the door behind him.
I breathed for a moment trying to calm my nerves and then proceeded to search for my cell. I found it tucked away under my pillow along with my keys. My battery was dead. “Do you have a phone?” I asked Del who was busy looking through my shelf.
“Why would I?” he asked without looking up. I suppressed a sigh of impatience as I searched for my charger.
“Let me guess, no service towers in Elvaraz” I stated sarcastically.
“No pollution” he corrected. “Aren’t you the least bit interested in how your Nese works?” he questioned. It was all he cared to inform me of and so I had stopped trying to get other answers from him.
“The magicky stuff?” I confirmed and Del nodded. “Of course I am, but I don’t wanna get too familiar with them and then I’ll have to give them up.”
With his brows furrowed he looked up at me questioningly, “what do you mean give them up?”
“After I meet the Elders, they can try giving them to someone from your realm, to help you regain balance or fix whats happening” I reasoned.
He chuckled softly before answering, “being a Seilie Aelfen isn’t something that you can just give up. Once chosen it’s who you are, for life.”
“Then how am I going to help you? even if I choose to help you. I know nothing about being Seilie.”
He touched my shoulder reassuringly, holding my gaze with the firm determination that always seemed present in his hazel eyes. “I’ve never seen a Seilie not know how to be who they are and the key to being one is to find out what you’re capable of. Trust me Nature chose you for a reason and that’s because you will be able to help us, it’s what you were born to do.”
My phone vibrated then lit up, holding only five percent of battery life. It was enough. I waited, watching as several notifications of voice messages both from my aunt and Leah flashed across the screen.
I hurriedly punched in the voicemail box number and waited. The first message was from Leah letting me know that she would be borrowing some shoes and I skipped ahead, wishing that the automated operator would be a bit quicker in reading out the numbers from my missed call.
The next message was from my Aunt Mae, “Olivia, I need you to come home immediately when you get this message. Please, it’s about your mother” she spoke urgently.
A cold shiver slivered up my back, I hoped that whatever she had to say would explain what was happening to me now. I saved the message waiting for the next.
“--Olivia...I don’t think I’ll have time to explain...some gifted people may reach out to you--be careful...whatever you do, don’t come home and don’t call. By now some strange things will be happening to you but don’t worry you’ll be fine--” the recording was slightly muffled by what sounded like the ocean and wind “...There is so much we should have told you about--, if your mother was here she’d be so furious--”
The recording ended abruptly. I sat frozen in shock still holding the phone to my ear as the automated voice declared the time and date of the message.
“So what did your Aunt say?” Del asked taking in my expression. I couldn’t answer him right away remembering my Aunt’s warning to be careful of gifted people.
“Olivia” he called out to me once again.
“My aunt told me not to come home... and to be careful” I answered hoping that the latter would cause some response that would indicate whether or not I could trust him.
“She wouldn’t be talking about being careful of wonted folk...Olivia, you need to meet the Elders and find out what they had discussed with your aunt,” Del pushed unfazed by what I had relayed.
“Is there anyone...Aelfe, that would want to hurt me? ” I asked nervously.
He was quiet. As if weighing how much he should tell me. Finally, he threw up his hands and said “the only reason anyone would have to hurt you would be to stop you, and the only Aelfe that would want to stop you are the ones that are hurting Aelfe kind.”
“Ok, and why would Aelfe want to harm other Aelfe kinds? And hurt, how?” I asked getting a hang of the jargon.
“Why do wonted folk harm, other Wonted folks? Bias, inequality, greed” he answered simply, “not all Aelfe are born equal. Some become Nematons, like us and we possess Nese abilities, others don’t and they are looked down upon by other Aelfe as weak” he answered without answering my last question.
I nodded with understanding” my Aunt said gifted people would reach out to me and to not trust anyone, what do you think that means?” I couldn’t find a reason to distrust him regardless of him holding back the whole truth from me several times.
“You’ll either need to find her so she can tell you that herself or you can just ask the Elders. Do you know where your Aunt may have gone?”
I shook my head not having a clue. “Then the Elders are our only option. I’m sure they’ll have the answers you’re looking for.”
We arrived in Elvaraz unharmed this time and I was able to appreciate the beauty of the land. The trees were a lush green-orange and as tall as buildings, winding this way and that reminding me of bridges.
Some trees blossomed profusely, many of their petals covering the ground around it like a carpet. The buildings made from mineral stones as Del had clarified sat upon the trunks of enormous trees which were spread out in clusters of varying numbers.
I now understood what Kelu had meant by high fashion and was pleased that I had decided to keep the butterfly attire on, instead of changing before coming back to Elvaraz. “Finally!” Kelu greeted us relief in her voice.
“There were two more murders after you left and the Elders know that she is here now so she must see them. There’s a curfew in place if you had been one minute later, you wouldn’t have been able to get back in...” she paused in giving her report looking at Del and so did I.
“Murder?,” chided him incredulously, ” you said they were harming other Aelfe, I thought you meant bullying and I don’t know, not killing them,” Del was unbelievable, after deciding to trust him he once again had decided to keep the whole truth to himself.
He gave Kelu an exasperated look before turning to me a firm look on his face. “Listen,” he began. I sighed wanting to turn away.
“Listen, Olivia, I know what you must be thinking. I didn’t lie to you, I’ve never lied to you. I’ve only given you information in doses but I know you can handle that now. This shouldn’t even matter, you’re the Seilie you can handle this” he pointed out.
“Oh is that supposed to make me feel better? you say that like you didn’t just intentionally not tell me what kind of madness is going on here!” I got the feeling that he didn’t care how much I refused to understand or accept what they wanted from me. It was a job to be done and once I was pressured enough into doing it, they wouldn’t have to waste their time catching me up on the details.
‘...some gifted people may reach out to you...be careful...’ My Aunt’s warning resonated in my memory.
“We’ve got to get moving, the curfew will be in effect in the next fifteen minutes” Kelu stated interrupting the silence between us. I decided I would take my Aunt’s advice in full.
“Take me to the Elders,” I said turning to Kelu, she nodded once then stole a glance at Del her expression almost apologetic.
“You need to be on the East, to assist in closing off the portals” she informed him leading me away. He didn’t seem to hear her.
“Del!” she called snapping him out of his musing.
“Yes, the curfew. It’s barely evening...” he muttered to himself taking off.
I followed Kelu on a clear path between the clusters. Looking around I saw that there were various memorabilia, spread out around the base of each tree along with flowers and vases filled with dirt.
“It’s for the Siths”, Kelu began to explain before I got a chance to ask, “the objects which were once owned by the fallen Aelfe are to remind the spirits of who they were since they’ll most likely seek out their families when they come here. It pacifies them and then they take that chance to return to the earth” she said pointing to the vase.
“How do you know they won’t be...evil anymore?” I asked, not knowing what else to call them.
“The flowers. If they return to the earth in the vase in good spirit, the family will place the flower in the dirt to see if it dies, it won’t once the spirit is at rest” she explained.
“And what if the spirits can’t remember who they are?”
“Then they cannot be consoled by a memory and seek revenge for their deaths by harming others, maybe even killing their own family until whoever murdered them is stopped” her words sent a chill up my spine and I wondered how she was able to speak of them so calmly.
“It’s here,” she said coming to a stop “this is where we go for guidance, hopefully, you’ll find what you are looking for.”
I began walking up the steps that protruded from the great tree that merged into the mineral stones along with the home that sat atop it. “Aren’t you coming?” I asked Kelu a bit nervous.
“I already know my purpose, go find yours” was all she said before walking away.
The ascent was winding making me dizzy by the time I got the top. I now noticed that the rest of the tree was still intact at the top of the house, unlike the other homes, branches and all. The entrance seemed to be made out of glass but I was unable to see anything beyond it or even my reflection.
I waited for a moment not sure of what to do, there weren’t any handles just plain glass. I reached out gently to touch the surface and was surprised by how warm it felt, rippling beneath my touch like water.
I tried with my palm now, my touch much firmer and the glass-like surface broke away from where my hand rested. “Come and sit” a voice called from the other side and I pushed through, the warmth like a gentle caress on my skin.
I looked around, thrown off by the unusual design an almost modern looking home within. There were wooden furniture and hardwood floors with long vines for frames, which resembled the inside of a greenhouse. I could see all the way to the outside as I looked behind me and I wondered how long these Elders had been watching me gawking at the glass surface outside in wonder.
“We know you have many questions for us, why don’t you sit down” I now turned my attention to the two literal Elders in the room, one male one female. I searched, taking a seat on the stump closest to the glass I had entered through.
“Would you like something to drink?” the woman asked getting up from the bench she and the other Elder were sitting on.
“Water is fine” I answered politely not knowing where to begin.
“Olivia, you look so much like your father, but I do see your mother in you” she spoke scooping water from a small fountain, then picking a leaf from the vine that hovered over it and placing it on top of the water in the cup.
“You knew my parents?” I asked my chest tightening at the mention of my father. Even I didn’t know who he had been.
“Of course! Gloria and Nyx they were inseparable those two”, my fathers’ name was Nyx I breathed inwardly burying the name in my heart, “such a tragedy that he passed away so soon, he was a leader here, destined to become the next Elder.”
A gush of gratitude and pride filled me. I had known nothing of the man called Nyx, all I knew was that I’d had a father and that was the end of it. “Sonny dear say something” the woman urged handing me the cup before taking her seat on the bench again.
“I’m sorry how rude of us not to introduce ourselves. I am Shine and this is my husband Sonny” she introduced turning to the man named Sonny and giving him a stern look. I smiled awkwardly at him, then returned my attention to Shine.
“What else can you tell me about my father?” I asked wanting to learn as much as I could of him to commit to memory.
“He was stubborn but smart and too brave for his own good” Sonny commented gruffly, his eyes guarded. I got the slightest impression that he disliked me in some way and I couldn’t imagine why.
“Sounds familiar” Shine sang giggling and giving him a light tap on the arm. “Anyway, Olivia” she continued. “There is plenty of time to talk about the past, we must warn you of the future.”
I nodded ready to listen. “You are a Seilie Aelfen, do you know what that means?”
“Del explained it to be an Aelfe that’s sacred” I surmised.
“If you wish to put it so simply. You, Olivia, were blessed by nature with powers that go beyond even our knowledge and understanding. These abilities only manifest when there is a great danger to Aelfe kind. I’m sure you’re aware of how drastically our numbers are depleting due to the murders by our own kind and even worse now Siths, it’s like a plague on the realm.”
“Who would want to kill other Aelfe kinds that they’d become Siths?” I wondered out loud “and if Aelfe kinds are murdering each other, what will you do once you find them? Lock em up?”
“We are certain of who it is... a traitor called Erdos who hates Aelfe kind and selfishly believes that wiping out all Aelfe, especially those that don’t posses Nese will create true balance.
“But he’s killing others” I pointed out.
“In his mind, the end justifies the means, which is why we need to subdue him. We do not cage Aelfe like animals, we banish them and if necessary they will be executed.”
“So you need me to subdue him...” I confirmed.
“And execute him... if necessary” Sonny added.
I immediately declined, stricken by the thought “I know Erdos may be a murderer but I cannot just kill someone.”
“We would never ask you to do such a crass thing, my dear” Shine reassured me quickly “we simply need to banish him, for good. If he is to be executed it would be by duel, but he would never fight knowing he is weak, banishing him will be the only thing we can do.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. “But if you banish him won’t he be able to come back or harm someone else where he goes?”
“Each realm has their own set of rules and they will judge any unlawful acts against their own as they see fit, like that of the Wonted folk. They would simply lock him up or put him to death. As for banishing him, Sonny can explain how it’s done” she said nudging him.
Sonny looked up from a book in his lap seeming just as unwilling to enter the conversation now like before. “We only require one thing from you,” he began, “and that’s for you to take away his ability to use portals and from returning to Elvaraz.”
I waited a bit for him to continue before asking, “that’s it?”
“It would have been a bit more complicated if he was a Nematon but he is nothing more than a normal Aelf, the only challenge is getting to him without having any more of Aelfe kind murdered and poison our realm.
Something about the way he said the words ′normal Aelf′ made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. An Aelfe without Nese attacking other Aelfe kind seemed too great a movement without something more to it.
“The aura which Nematon Aelfe uses to manipulate elements such as the earth and fire comes from four points within our bodies called Fata ,” Sonny stood up now to demonstrate what he meant “it’s here,” he said pointing to his head, “here” he continued pointing to his center “and the strongest connection of all is in the wrists.”
It felt like all the brain space I had from missing my classes for the past few weeks had been waiting for this information which was surprisingly easy to grasp.
“So how come all Aelfe can’t use Nese?” I wondered.
That’s because one of the four Fata in a Nematon are open allowing them to use aura for Nese and in lesser Aelfe they are all closed. In you, child, all four are open” his gaze was stern and explanation simple. I openly stared back hoping he would continue instead of me having to ask questions.
“By destroying the Fata Erdos will no longer be able to cross realms, neither ours nor others. He’ll be sentenced to the one he’s been banished to.” I hadn’t been aware that there were other realms and I didn’t dare ask about them feeling that doing so would somehow upset him.
“Are you following?“, he asked his tone held a hint of distaste.
I was tempted to ask what his problem was but decided to hold my tongue since I hadn’t even gotten around to asking about my aunt and my mother as yet.
“Carefully” I responded hoping he had picked up on the feisty tone in my voice.
“Good. To destroy an Aelfe Fata, you will need to pull their aura out by force into your own body and return it to the earth, too much aura will have an intoxicating effect if not used or expelled quickly. But to take aura you will first have to learn how to control your own. Kelu told me how you almost killed yourself using your Nese abilities, you have too much to learn. Now if you will excuse me, I need to see how the curfew preparations are going” And with that Sonny left without another word.
“Don’t mind him, dear,” Shine said apologetically, “he has been through a lot.” She cleared her throat a sudden spark filling her brown eyes. “Now I know you have questions about your Aunt Maekenzie...”
“Yes, I heard she came here after my mother died last year. What did she say?”
Shine’s smile suddenly turned into a frown “I’d hoped I wouldn’t have to speak of this. Maekenzie came to us, well she barged in here accusing us of having something to do with your mothers’ death. I can assure you that was not the case.”
“What do you mean?”
“The storm that killed your mother was caused by a Nematon as I am sure you have picked up by now. We believe that the Nematon who killed your mother was after you, your mother just tried to stop them and failed. Once a Seilie Aelfen is chosen they become a kind of beacon, so Aelfe from each realm knows where and who to go to for help.”
I knew my aunt wasn’t the kind of person who would go around accusing people at random for my mothers’ death, not unless she knew something more than what Shine was willing to tell me.“If you knew my parents, why didn’t I grow up here?” I asked.
“Among wonted folk your beacon is dulled, I think your mother wanted to protect you, she must have somehow known you would become a Seilie Aelfen. But I’m glad you came to us now” she gushed the smile returning to her face.
“I’m afraid we must end our conversation here today. The curfew is about to take effect.”
“I thought the curfew would have been put into effect over an hour ago,” I asked puzzled.
She smiled softly taking the cup from my hand which was still filled with water “time flows differently in an Elders home. It could feel like hours but it’s nothing more than a minute or five outside. That’s how we are able to record and pass on knowledge.”
“Just one more question”, I said hurriedly “do you happen to know where my aunt may have gone? she told me to stay away from home. I think someone is after me, maybe the same person who killed my mother” I threw in.
“There could be others like Erdos wanting to harm you, but no one that I can think of now. If I do gain some knowledge of your aunt’s whereabouts or who may have killed your mother. I will be sure to let you know.”
I bowed awkwardly in thanks leaving through the glass.
Thank you for reading hope you enjoyed it Wonted folks!