The heart of the eternal

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The unbroken circle

Dharan and Geir had been worried, they hadn’t shown it openly for they were both proud and they didn’t want to cause Floth’bha any extra fear but both knew that her wounds were worse than they appeared. The scratches and bites were the worst, for the odd dwarf creatures had been devoid of anything even resembling hygiene and Floth’bha did have a fever. The half orc was trembling slightly but she didn’t reveal her pain at all and Geir had managed to make some stew and she did eat but her appetite was not good. She didn’t appear to care about much and Geir had seen such behaviour before. He had been a mercenary for most of his adult life and selling your sword meant that you saw death almost each day, and death wasn’t the worst he had seen by far. The cities and kingdoms to the far south had use for such as him and he had been in battles which had lasted for days. He had seen brave men reduced to bawling imbecils, others became lethargic and indifferent and then there were those who became frantic and couldn’t settle down again. Those were the ones who most often did end up offing themselves after the war was over.

Floth’bha was in shock, that was the truth. She had probably fought a lot in her life and seen much misery but the fight within the dwarven city had become too much. He hadn’t really had time to reflect upon it, and he was after all very experienced but now in retrospective he did realize how bad it had been. The horrible creatures and the explosion and the sheer madness of it all. It was no wonder the half orc was shocked and struggling to come to terms with the whole thing. Geir had cleaned her largest wounds and added herbs but he was afraid of infections and Dharan was also nervous. The female did look pale and her eyes were rather dull and her gaze distant.

Geir did offer her the last drop of liquor they had left and she did accept. The tiny amount of strong liquid did seem to do her good and she did smile. “Thank you”

Geir did nod and sat down next to her. “Believe me, I have seen worse than that fight.”

Floth’bha did grunt and leaned back against the roll of blankets behind her back. “I hear you, and I believe you. I thought I was a warrior but…”

Geir shrugged. “You are a warrior Floth’bha. Nobody could have been prepared for what we did experience back there.”

Floth’bha did cringe. “I have fought the monsters many times human, I have shed blood, both of beasts and men and also some orcs but I have never…”

She swallowed hard. “Those beings, they were just…wrong! I cannot describe it otherwise”

Geir sighed and crossed his legs, he did feel his age now. “Yes, something which weren’t meant to be.”

Floth’bha did stare out into nothing. “I have been so proud to be a part of the twelve clans and I have tried so very hard to do my duty. I have never been afraid of being seen as a coward but now…I fear Geir”

The man did tilt his head. “Tell me what you fear Floth’bha, I may be able to help”

The half orc did stare down at the ground. “I fear that Resh’kha will think I am weak”

Geir did snort, he shook his head. “Floth’bha, you are a half orc and you have better senses than me but even this old human can see that she is quite taken by you!”

Floth’bha did blink, her voice was a bit thin. “You think so?”

Geir heard the hope in the voice and nodded. “Yes, when you meet again I bet there will be confessions.”

Floth’bha did shudder and bit her lower lip. “I have never truly…”

She turned her face towards Geir and her eyes were shining. “I have never loved anybody, not really. I like both males and females and I have never tried to deny that, but Resh’kha, she is…”

Geir did grin. “A force of nature right? She is impressive”

Floth’bha did embrace herself, there was a vulnerability in her gaze which was very real and profound “Yes, something like that. And she is a servant of the Gods now, a shaman. She is more than me and yet I cannot help but hoping. She did try to make a male prefer her instead of another woman and I thought that for sure she doesn’t like me in that way but now…I have to hope, or else…”

Geir did pet her arm. “Do not worry, Resh’kha has realized some truths for sure. I think those wbo sent her off knew her better than she was aware of. Trust me, it will be alright”

The half orc did grunt and nod and Geir did leave her to her own thoughts. He was sure that Resh’kha would tell Floth’bha of her feelings when she did return but he did worry about Floth’bha’s health. The wounds were not nice to look at.

The next morning Floth’bha was even worse and she did complain about aches and pains and that told Geir that it was very bad. She wouldn’t have let anybody know of her pain if it was anything short of unbearable and her fever had risen too. But to their confusion they did wake up to find a huge bag laying in front of the camp fire. Dharan did dare to approach it and it was leather and very heavy. When he did open it he did find an axe with a very exotic look, a sword and some daggers plus several strange amulets with symbols Geir didn’t recognize at all. But Dharan did and he was ecstatic and beside himself. Apparently they had great meaning to dwarves and he did explain that a person carrying one of those had great authority within their community and could function as a sort of ruler for a period of time.

Floth’bha did lay claim to the axe and she was thrilled by it but why had these things come to them and who had brought them? Geir said that one never should check the teeth of a gift horse but Dharan did feel a bit insecure still. Floth’bha said that they would have noticed if anyone had entered the camp at night and Dharan did reluctantly admit that she was right. Geir was a bit shocked by what Kulkar had done, he had never heard of any substance capable of blasting up such amounts of rock. Dharan did explain that it was an ancient secret of the dwarves but not one many knew of and also, not one they were prone to use if they didn’t have to. It was volatile stuff and also very unpredictable. You did never know just how strong the explosion would be. But Dharan was sure that the city they had found would be inhabited again, when the problem with the monsters was solved.

Floth’bha was very feverish by the evening and almost in a sort of half-conscious state, she would probably become way worse soon and Dharan didn’t think she would make it unless some miracle did occur. The infections she had gotten from the wounds were just too powerful and Geir did go off trying to find some herbs he knew could bring the fever down but they were too high up in the mountains for that. As he was heading back to the camp he did see a giant black wolf running towards it at full speed and Resh’kha was on its back, hanging on like some huge ape. He had to shake his head, there was no doubt about her intentions.

As he did enter the small camp he saw that Resh’kha was giving Floth’bha something from a small bottle and the half orc did appear to get better as they were watching, her colour did return and she did sort of wake up again. Geir did sit down and removed the bandages and lo and behold, the grisly wounds did disappear as if by a touch of the Gods. Resh’kha was beside herself and Dharan did grin and nodded at Geir. “Let us give them some privacy shall we?”

Geir had to snicker and the two males did leave the camp for a while.

When they did return the two females were in a tight embrace whispering endearments to each other and Resh’kha did grin from one ear to the other. “I wasn’t too late!”

Geir did nod, he was rather stoical about it all but did ask about what the outcome of the mission had been and Resh’kha did tell them everything. Dharan did gape. “We are very lucky to be alive, the goddess was with us”

Resh’kha nodded and kissed Floth’bha on her forehead. “Yes, we will rest here for a day or two and then we have to go and meet the others”

Geir saw the glow of affection in the eyes of the two and did snicker. “And I guess a congratulation is in order now?”

Floth’bha did blush and Resh’kha did look proud. “Yes, we have agreed…”

Floth’bha did play with one of Resh’kha’s ink black braids. “We are getting married, it is the right thing to do.”

Dharan did look moved, Geir hadn’t believed that it was possible. “Many will be very pleased and happy to hear that. You are a stunning couple.”

Resh’kha did blush this time and just mumbled something. Geir got up and started preparing some more food, now Floth’bha had a raging appetite and so did Resh’kha and Dharan had to go out hunting and he did come back with a small deer. The meat didn’t get time to hang but was devoured there and then and the atmosphere was one of relaxed joy. Now there wasn’t anything left to fear and they could contemplate the things they had been through. Geir did miss Than and Osbord but both had been brave men and he was sure their ancestors would welcome them in the halls of the great beyond. He was still alive and still hale and he was rather sure that he hadn’t fought his last battle just yet. The whole thing had had an invigorating effect upon him and he felt stronger than for a long time.

That night he and Dharan did move their bedrolls to a small hollow underneath the roots of a fallen tree. It was very obvious that both Floth’bha and Resh’kha were starved for affection and physical contact and they didn’t try to hide it. The outbursts of pleasure and confessions of adoration and love were endearing but also a bit too loud for Geir’s liking. It was impossible to sleep thus.

The next morning both the females did look very dishevelled and sheepish but they couldn’t keep their hands off each other and Dharan did just laugh at them. Geir was glad they were a part of the twelve clans, he had seen societies where this sort of display would be looked down upon or even outlawed and he had long ago realized that the twelve clans were way ahead of most human societies when it came to acceptance. He had never married, not only because of his dangerous profession but also due to his hearts desires. Where he grew up the truth about what he did long for would have put his life in danger and he did never reveal his true nature to anybody back there. Out in the fields on the other hand? There things did change a lot, there nobody did care who’s touch you did seek the night before battle when the fear and the hopelessness became too much to bear on one’s own. With no females available it was normal to seek the company of your brothers in arms and he had never looked back.

Floth’bha and Resh’kha were obviously very happy together and he did realize that Resh’kha in fact was very pretty when she did smile and had that light of joy in her eyes. He did hope that they would have a good life together.

Since Floth’bha was healed now they could leave to join the others and Resh’kha did warn them that not all the monsters were dead yet. They had been drawn towards the place of the gate but not all had naturally enough made it there in time for the final extermination by the goddess. There were still beasts roaming the mountains and the areas to the south too, so for many years to come there was a chance that the twelve clans would have to be more busy than ever. The horrors had had the time to spread far and wide. Many had been drawn away by Resh’kha towards the forest of Gholrae but that hadn’t been all of them by far, many had been too far off to feel the tug of the heart stone and there had been packs in the mountains, heading south who by now had to have reached the plains. The she orc had seen some packs on her way to the camp but she hadn’t tried to engage them and the huge wolf had been so fast the beasts had no chance at catching up with her.

Now they did move slowly towards the plains again and the other wolf did suddenly appear so Floth’bha too had something to ride. The small group did leave the mountain valley when the sun was at its highest that day and they did notice that things had started to change immediately. The dry and barren mountains had become way more lively, Resh’kha couldn’t describe it otherwise. The air had been odd, flat in a way without the scents one would expect from such an area. Now they did see that the snow was melting, birds were returning and Geir was rather sure that come the summer the plain would be green and lush. The dark energy of the gate was gone and couldn’t devour life anymore, this area would return to its natural state.

They did see some beasts and the things did seem to be confused and unable to really do much harm. They were scurrying around and some did look sickly. Dharan was talking about gathering enough dwarves to return to the city and re-inhabit it. It was grand and he was sure that they could find some use for the huge scales besides making armour. Resh’kha was not even paying attention to his long descriptions of plans and hopes, she had more than enough with Floth’bha. She had never really expected herself to open up the way she had now and she had never expected that she would find the touch of another female that much more satisfying than that of a male. Resh’kha was no maiden, she was after all a grown female and she had urges but she had always done what was expected of her, what she always had believed to be right. The males which had tried to woo her had always felt lacking in some way or the other, she had never truly been happy with any of them and now she did know why.

She did also know why she had tried to use magic against that one male and his mate. It wasn’t that she wanted him, it was that she had been jealous of him, of what he had with his mate. Resh’kha had seen the love between those two and wanted it for herself and her mind had been a bit twisted by her own feelings and the expectations she expected everybody to have for her. Now she knew the truth and she was grateful, she had indeed seen the truth and the future did look light once more. With Floth’bha by her side she would never be alone again and she wouldn’t be regarded as somebody not worth mentioning when she was a shaman. From now on she would be a person of importance and so would Floth’bha.

The great tree was like some giant sentinel and now there was a soft breeze making the branches move slightly, the air had changed a lot and the greenery seemed to spread out from this strange oasis. Wenja was rather sure that it from now on would be a part of this plain, visible to all. It was yet again a sacred spot but of a whole new and different reason than before. She was in awe of the life she felt there, the raw unbridled force of nature which seemed to grow by the hour. Ahravan and Rhawan did share her awe and Khirhien felt that the true nature of this place had been hidden away for a very long time. The Goddess hadn’t wanted it to be corrupted by the power of the gate. Ahravan was eager to return to the city now but he knew that they would have to wait for Resh’kha and the others. It felt good just resting there and knowing they were safe.

Wenja was listening to the whispering of the leaves and she did see things, things she knew were visions sent by the Goddess. She did see the past, did see how the mighty armies from the south did fail to fight the monsters off completely and how the clans of the north did succeed where they couldn’t, because they did cooperate, and did respect the land. She did see how she had been chosen for this task, simply because she was a person with little knowledge of this. A scholar with knowledge of the war of old would have been overwhelmed and would have doubted that anything could be done. She was very humble and was grateful she had been allowed to end this scourge and yet she didn’t understand everything just yet. Ahravan did calm her down, explaining that there isn’t everything which is to be explained, some mysteries must always endure.

Ayhrandur and the two young humans did hunt and brought them some fowl and there were lots of berries and fruit there, they did eat well and they did go around exploring too. The area was large and held many wonders and Wenja still had this childlike fascination and innocence everybody found very endearing. There was a river running through the forest and it hadn’t been there before, but now it did spread over the plain, bringing life with it. Wenja knew that the dry barren plain was a thing of the past now. The tents they had brought were put up near the great tree, and they had made a real camp out of it since they had no idea of how long it would take for Resh’kha to return. Wenja had listened to Kulkar’s tale of the dwarven city and its inhabitants and how they did blow up the dam and it made Ahravan look shocked and Rhawan did almost refuse to believe that the dwarf had been able to release all that water.

The river was rather cold but that didn’t stop them from bathing and Wenja had started to really feel the differences between who she had been and what she had become. She was not as vulnerable as before, her body could handle cold much better and she didn’t get tired the same way. She did bathe with her husbands and although the bath was chilly she didn’t really freeze. Way back in the tent Ahravan did rub her skin with some cloth and before long drying off had become something else completely. She was still hungering for their touch and knew that this feeling probably never would disappear. The bond between them was incredibly strong. She had discovered that Rhawan loved it when she did give him small love bites and Ahravan would always become extremely aroused if she was very vocal when she was with Rhawan. The fact that her body could handle all the attention was almost unbelievable but it did and she did crave it.

But as the days went by she had started to realize that she was going to have to change even more, she wouldn’t show her condition for yet many months but she had started to feel the first unpleasant changes. She had started to feel nauseous in the mornings and it was very early but Ahravan said it was because her body still was transforming. She wasn’t fully an elf yet and there would probably always be some part of her which did remain human, at least when it came to her way of viewing the world around her. She had a perspective no elf had and it could prove to be valuable later on. She didn’t enjoy the feeling of almost puking when she got up and luckily Ahravan did know a way to make it less intense. He would massage the bottom of her feet and it did always work, she felt way better after a while.

The plain was covered with debris from the flood and now it seemed as if that layer of mud and rocks and other things acted as fertilizer for it was getting green everywhere. When Resh’kha and the others did return they could tell of grass and bushes where none had been just days prior and Wenja felt that it was like a miracle. The news that Resh’kha and Floth’bha now was a couple was received with cheering and congratulations and they did celebrate that evening with some stew Kulkar did prepare dwarven style. After the celebration Ahravan and Rhawan did take Wenja with them to a clearing in the woods they had found and they stayed there most of the night, making love and a level of noise which had even Khirhien raising an eyebrow when they returned in the morning, claiming that they had made more noise than a herd of rutting bucks.

It was time to leave this oasis and the huge cat did still stay there, it appeared as if it was to follow them back to and Khor’ath hadn’t left either. Ahravan spoke with Resh’kha and knew that they would come across monsters also on the way back, only some had managed to get to the plains after all and there had been huge herds spread far and wide which now were leaderless and on the prowl. He and his warriors would have quite a job ahead of them. Their animals had been well rested and Wenja did touch the great tree with some sadness. She wanted to stay there for the feeling she got there was amazing, one of peace and acceptance, a sort of silent knowledge that life would go on, no matter what happened.

They rode by the crystal palace on the way back, it was still there, and it did look very alien but there was no energy there now, no danger. The will which had filled it with darkness and evil intent was gone forever and it wouldn’t pull on anything again, except those interested in odd architecture. It was simply a huge building with strange shapes and from now on it would be like a silent reminder of what had been. It was standing on the very edge of the forest and everybody who wanted to enter it would pass by it. Even the dark ones had been able to create a thing of beauty, it was something worth remembering.

Wenja felt eager to return to her friends now, she was longing for real baths, for real food and for feminine companionship. Resh’kha and Floth’bha had more enough with each other and couldn’t stay away from each other for more than a few hours at a time and Wenja wanted Sefa and her odd humour and practical way of seeing things. Ahravan too saw this and knew that things would change whence they returned. He was ready to carry the consequences of his actions, many would question his right to do what he had to save Wenja and he was rather sure that the humans in special would have a hard time accepting it. But that was not something he was too worried about at the moment, now they had a hard and long journey ahead of them and they soon discovered that the beasts indeed weren’t all gone.

The packs were not large, and they didn’t act with as much aggression as before but they did try to attack if they saw the travellers and now Ahravan did show why he had been chosen to be the Ath’ir. He was able to read an enemy and place the counter attack right where it needed to be and since they now had more fighters they usually won rather easily and killed all the beasts. Wenja would sit there on the cat and Flint would attack anything which got too close to her and she wasn’t afraid anymore. She knew everybody would protect her and that nothing bad would happen to her. Ahravan had become extremely protective of her, often to a degree where it became a bit bothersome but she didn’t complain. Rhawan did explain that this was normal and not something he could control, it was a part of their nature and there was nothing Wenja could do to change this. Rhawan too was very aware of her now, in a whole new manner and it felt like having a servant at each hand, always readily available to do her smallest bidding.

The cat did lead them and the wolves would also help them find the best paths. The black she wolf did show up from time to time to warn them of beasts in the area and when they did have the chance to take them by surprise they always did, it was the smartest way. Wenja didn’t have to fight at all, but she did see that it was far from easy. The beasts were huge and even without the dark one to control them they were out for blood. She was glad they had several flasks with water from the spring for smaller injuries were impossible to avoid. And oddly enough the flasks didn’t seem to get empty at all. During these days she started to get an idea and as they travelled the idea became a decision within her mind. It was one she wouldn’t go back on.

They didn’t even see a hint of the goblins they had encountered and Wenja felt in her heart that the tribe which had kidnapped her was eradicated somehow. Not that she or anyone else would mourn their demise. Since they didn’t have to hide they could use a straighter route and an easier one too and they would make real camps when they rested and cook too. The wolves did keep watch at night and the huge cat did also stay close to the camp and it was rather clear that nothing could get by him unseen. As they got closer to the edge of the mountains they did see that the amount of beasts let through the gate was staggering indeed, they had spread out like locust and their hunger was insatiable. They had driven away all the wildlife and the ground was torn open in many places where they had been digging for rodents and prairie dogs. Even old tree trunks had been ripped apart in the search for something edible and Ahravan was very nervous now. He was thinking about the city and if these beasts started to trek southwards it would be right in their way. Wenja did share his fear now that she did see how bad the problem truly was. There was nothing there which did govern the beasts and they were roaming freely like never before, the threat was worse than ever even if no new ones would show up.

So they did hurry, often Rhawan would have to force Ahravan to take breaks and Wenja did feel sorry for him. He was frantic at times, convinced that the city would come under attack soon and she did remind him of all the defenders which had showed up but it didn’t calm him at all. So she and Rhawan did their best to distract his mind and it did end with them all being sweaty and sticky and very relaxed, almost every time. Wenja knew her mates now, and they knew her and she had learned what turned them on. Rhawan was very easy to arouse, a glimpse of naked skin, a certain glimpse within an eye and he was ready as ever. Ahravan on the other hand was not as much triggered by sight as by touch. Oh if he did watch Wenja and Rhawan together he would most certainly be turned on but otherwise he was not as easily ignited as Rhawan. He was older and used to having responsibilities which did limit his ability to just let go and have fun but Wenja had discovered his secrets by now.

Even the lightest touch to the tip of his ears would make him harden immediately, a kiss at the back of his neck, a swift caress of his skin anywhere on the body, it was all things which got him going and if Rhawan was like a wildfire racing over the plains untamed and unbridled Ahravan was more like a coal fire deep within the ground. Whence it was set off it would burn and burn and only get hotter. Wenja too had learned what triggered her own desire now and the two males had found out as well. Rhawan would tease her endlessly if she did sit up with him, he knew by now that she would react immediately if he did lick her neck beneath her ear and often he would drive her to madness thus. Often she did end up sopping wet and aching and had to drag him with her into some crevice out of sight so he could finish what he had started. And Ahravan was not much better. He wasn’t the type for quickies, not really. He preferred long sessions when he could spend time worshiping every inch of her and she did at times wonder how on earth she did survive the onslaught of pleasure he did create within her.

She did long for the baths back at the city, she felt that she did reek and remembered something Sefa once had told her after one of the sessions with Rhawan during their journey. Humans have a much stronger scent than elves, an elf don’t have much body odour at all and are hard to track thus. She had noticed this for Rhawan didn’t smell much at all compared to her father and other men, some did reek like old goats and she was used to the fact that men had a rather foul odour at times. Sina had often spent long hours scrubbing her husband’s clothing and Wenja had noticed that the scent rarely could be removed completely. But there was one exception and that was the fact that the seed of an elven male did smell a lot more than that of a human male. Wenja had had a hard time believing it when Sefa did tell her of this fact but now she had realized that it was true. The smell was rather pungent and oddly sweet and not at all unpleasant but very noticeable and Wenja knew that she couldn’t hide what she had been up to at all when she was around elves, or humans too for that sake. If you didn’t wash immediately afterwards the smell was unmistakeable.

Now she was surrounded by the smell of sex all the time and she did see what it did to the other elves in the group. Both Khirhien and Ayhrandur would disappear into the darkness and be gone for a while and if Sefa was right in her assumptions about Khirhien and his supposed interest in her Wenja was rather sure that Sefa would be left unable to walk for some days after their return. Ayhrandur did apparently have a lover back home and the two human warriors had sweethearts too who probably had something to look forwards too as well.

They did reach the plains again without mishaps and not they could truly pick up the pace. They rode hard and did see that some packs of beasts already had reached the grass lands but it was hard to follow the tracks since the spring had come and the snow did disappear.

The thaw was causing the rivers to swell everywhere and it did slow them down since they had to find safe crossings but Ahravan was relentless, he did push forth and they did obey him, knowing that he was right about his need to check that everything was alright.

When they finally saw the inner mountains Wenja was very tired and also oddly driven, like her husband. She felt that her presence was needed somehow and she also knew that many would doubt Ahravan when they learned of what he and Rhawan had done to keep her in their lives. But the goddess had wanted it and she wouldn’t sit there and let them be blamed for something which was meant to be.

At every stop they had made she had sown some seeds and the bag didn’t empty at all, it was always full and she knew that the trees she left would grow and bring more life to the mountains and plains. There would be fruits and shade and joy and she did her task almost religiously. The goddess had trusted her with this job and she wouldn’t fail at it at all.

The last stretch was a tense one, they did see that the herds of animals still did roam the area and protected it but the animals were uneasy and skittish and Wenja realized that they did sense trouble which was brewing. As they got closer they were discovered and met by a group of warriors and as soon as they did recognize the group there were screams and shouts of joy and relief. Laupir was among them and he did hug Ahravan fiercely, almost in tears and everybody wanted to shake their hands and just make sure that they were real. Laupir did not know how to control his own excitement, his eyes were shining and he did almost tremble. “My Ath’ir, things…things are happening”

Ahravan did frown. “Things?”

Laupir did nod. “More monsters, they were gone for a long time but now we have seen packs again, and they seem to be mad. What has happened? Did you close the gate?”

Ahravan did nod. “Yes, Wenja did close the gate and the threat is gone but there are still many monsters left in the northern mountains and they will be drawn south I fear, out of hunger. We need to prepare”

Laupir did stare at Wenja, her hair was down so he didn’t see her ears but his eyes did widen and he gasped audibly. “My Eth’ir…you….oh great goddess, you are an eternal now?!”

Wenja knew that she had obtained that odd glow which did show the true nature of the elves, a sort of ethereal quality humans didn’t have and she did nod. “Yes, it…it was needed”

One of the other warriors was an elf and he did stare too. “And you are with child? At such a troubled time?!!”

Wenja had to blush and she felt a bit odd but she did hold her head up high. “Yes, that was not intended but happened and we are very happy!”

The elves there stared and she did notice that some had an almost religious reverence in their gaze. This ought to get interesting indeed. Ahravan did make a gesture. “We need to get back to the city now, defences must be planned for the beasts will come, more of them than ever. But if we manage to defeat and eradicate them now there will be no new ones for sure. We will be safe”

The warriors did cheer and they kicked their steeds into gallop again. Resh’kha and Floth’bha did ride their wolves and got some odd looks but nobody did protest and the huge cat too was shown a great deal of respect. Wenja longed for a bath so bad her skin felt as if it was crawling and she let out a small gasp of relief when they saw the entrance. Now there were guards placed there, and somebody had erected as sort of barricade made from the bottom of the wagons plus rocks and tree trunks. Ahravan got a bit pale when he saw it and turned to Laupir. “Have there been attacks?”

Laupir did nod, eyes on the ground. “Yes, two. We fought them off with the help of the animals gathered here and there weren’t that many of the monsters but they fought with tenacity. We killed them all but it was hard, very hard”

Ahravan did groan and Khor’ath did whinny and pawed at the ground. “I was afraid of that, we did cut off the source but the numbers were too great and they were too far spread.”

Wenja did see that a huge number of people had started to gather and she did see that many showed great relief knowing that the Ath’ir was back. She was staring into the crowd to see her friends and as Rhawan did help her down from the cat she saw that Sefa came running at breakneck speed towards her. Wenja barely had the time to brace for impact before her friend did hug her fiercely. “Oh bless every God there is Wenja, I was so worried for you!!”

Wenja felt moved, she did swallow and hugged Sefa back and realized that it truly felt good being back in oh so many ways. Imh and Theka could be seen waving their hands at her from the crowd too and Ahnriel and some of the warriors who had followed them on the journey to the plains did look just as relieved. Sefa did let go and she did stare at Wenja, her eyes got wide. “What…Oh gods, you have…changed!”

Wenja bit her lower lip and nodded. “Yes, I will tell you all about it but now I need a bath and some food and some rest”

Sefa did look at the giant cat and Wenja did notice that the dwarves in special stared at it with awe. They knew what this was and as the group made their way into the city many began to sing. Ahravan and Rhawan went with the warriors to get an overview of the situation and Resh’kha and Floth’bha did hold hands and were extremely proud of each other. When people became aware of the new couple there were congratulations and expressions of joy and Resh’kha did blush and giggle and some of the women there came with some silky shawls they threw over the two to symbolise a new union. Wenja was promptly dragged off to the kitchen area by Sefa who obviously believed they all had starved half to death during the journey. Being back there felt good and yet oddly confusing. She had gotten used to the company of very few and now she was back here with thousands of people and her new and sharper senses did make her feel stressed out quite often. Sefa had her placed by a table and ran to get some food and the others of the group did also gather there. Kulkar did look as if he was ready to drop dead from starvation judging from the expression of extreme anticipation on his face and Dharan too did rub his hands together, licking his lips.

Geir was more controlled but he too did look forward to real food again and Khirhien and Ayhrandur were already wolfing down a huge portion of stew each. Kulkar got a rather enormous mug of beer and drained it in one go, his eyes were bulging at the end but he didn’t stop even once and heaved for air when it was empty. Wenja had to laugh and the dwarf did hiccup and grinned. “The nectar of the gods, I cannot believe I survived for so long without ale”

Sefa did bring Wenja a rather extreme portion of the excellent stew and sat down next to her, her eyes were shining but there was a hint of worry in her expression. “So what is the story? You are different?”

Wenja sighed and pulled her hair away from the ears and Sefa did squeak. “Wenja?! What on earth…No, they cannot have transformed you through intimacy, that much fucking would be lethal to anybody, even them. What has happened?”

Wenja sighed and leaned back, letting her hair fall back and she gathered her courage and started telling about the thing Ahravan and Rhawan did to save her, the Goddess and the well and the fact that she had almost died. Sefa did stare with eyes the size of dinner plates and she did open and close her mouth a few times. “You almost died? And they transformed you into an elf?”

Wenja nodded. “Yes, you can say I was reborn in a manner, I am the one born twice. They did it to save me and to follow the biddings of the Goddess”

Sefa did nod slowly. “I did see the cat, her own steed you know. Oh Wenja, you are no longer an ordinary person, they will turn to you now, for guidance and wisdom. You have been touched by the Gods, so what is the price you have had to pay? There is always a downside to these things”

Wenja did swallow hard. “Well, there is this thing…I am pregnant”

Sefa gaped, her jaw almost hitting her chest and her eyes told of disbelief. “Wenja?! Are you insane? Why…”

Wenja took a deep breath. “It wasn’t planned, believe me. We think it happened when…when I was almost on the other side, the newly conceived spirit of the child saved me. It is Ahravan’s by the way, a girl”

Sefa squeaked, she was a pale. “Oh by the axe of the dwarven Gods, the Gods will claim that baby, there is your price Wenja. Such a favour is never for free”

Wenja looked down. “I know.”

Sefa reached out, grasped her hand. “But I hope you are happy? It is early to get pregnant before a year is passed by but you are strong and Ahravan is probably very proud too?”

Wenja had to grin. “He is, he did weep when we found out. You are right, I have dreamed that the goddess will claim my daughter as her servant, that she will be a special person for sure. But I am not afraid, it will be alright”

Sefa smiled, there was wonder in her eyes. “Of course it will.”

Rhawan and Ahravan came over, both did look tired and also worried and they did sit down. “The elders will have a meeting at sunrise tomorrow, we need to make plans, and they want to know all that happened. They want you there too Wenja, not all are convinced that we did a good thing when we brought you back, they fear that you may harbour dark things from the other side”

Sefa did scoff. “Pha, idiots. Wenja is sheer light, there is nothing wicked within her, anybody with eyes can see that. “

Ahravan did send her a swift smile. “Yet, a meeting is called for. We have to prepare for more attacks”

Wenja just nodded. “I will be there as long as you are there.”

Ahravan just smiled and Rhawan did empty his cup of wine, he did look tired and Wenja did run her hand through his hair. It was matted and dirty and he did grin. “We are off to the baths, I bet you are dying to get there too?”

Wenja nodded, she hadn’t had a proper bath for what seemed like years in her mind and she finished her food and the two did follow her to the room where you changed your clothes. There were some simple robes laid out for those who preferred to be clothed until they did reach the water and Wenja saw that there were a few others there but they were gathered by one of the smaller pools at the back of the huge room. She saw that Ahravan did bring jars of everything they needed and she didn’t hesitate getting inn. The water was very warm but she loved it and as soon as she did get wet she started scrubbing herself with vigour until the two did step in to help her.

Wenja saw that the water surrounding them became almost grey for a few moments, they became filthier than they had expected from their journey and now the dust and grime said goodbye in huge clouds. Ahravan and Rhawan did scrub her hair and filled it with soap and shampoo and after half an hour it was clean again and she felt like a new person. She did help the other two in turn and Ahravan was dozing as she and Rhawan did comb through his thick golden mane. They all had needed this, just to relax and be themselves and not worry about everything. The dark silk which was Rhawan’s hair was harder to get through for it was thinner in structure than Ahravan’s and yet very strong. Wenja did admire the lush shine, the dark deep blue colour was black in the light of the baths and he did look like some obsidian statue, like a likeness of a God carved from stone.

She did caress his taut stomach and admired how the muscles did flutter as he did move, almost giggling since he was a bit ticklish. “I have never seen anyone else with skin as dark as yours?”

Rhawan did shrug. “Well, it is more usual among the tribes to the far south”

Wenja did frown. “Are you from the south? I thought you were of the twelve clans?”

Rhawan did sit down again and he did make a grimace. “I am, now. But I was born in the far south, from a very small tribe living on the borders of the plains. Many among us were this dark, my father had black skin and black hair, he was like a shadow”

Wenja blinked, a bit fascinated. “Really? And your mother?”

Rhawan smiled. “A beauty with dark blue hair and skin like yours, the best weaver among the tribe’s artisans. She was so good at it”

Wenja saw that Ahravan was almost half asleep and they did leave the pool and laid down on the low benches which did surround the pools. “So why are you here then? You have been here for a very long time right?”

Rhawan did nod. “I have, I joined the twelve clan’s millennia ago, it is …It is a bit of a troubled story”

Wenja did not know this about Rhawan, he had never spoken much of his past and she saw the echo of pain in his eyes. “What happened?”

Ahravan did open one green eye and mumbled. “Tell her brother, she does deserve to know”

Rhawan sighed and Wenja did take his hand. “It is really a bit nasty, are you sure you want to know my light?”

Wenja did nod and he took a deep breath. “I had barely come of age when I left my home Wenja, I left everything behind, my parents and my tribe and I haven’t looked back even once. What happened was…It is hard to explain!”

Ahravan did lift himself up onto an elbow and his face was filled with both compassion and something which told Wenja of ancient wrath. “No it isn’t, you were abused and that is not something you ought to hide my dear, it wasn’t your fault”

Wenja gasped. “Your parents?!”

Rhawan did shake his head vigorously. “Heavens no! No elven parents would ever hurt their child, in any possible manner. But…”

He did look down. “Listen, I have told you that I only allow Ahravan to…take me right? I trust him, I cannot stand it if other males does try to get that intimate with me. It wasn’t my parents, it was a tutor, a human hunter who did live with our tribe and he was going to teach me about the hunting techniques of our people and …I did trust him, at first”

Wenja was stunned and her eyes huge, she had never anticipated something like that from Rhawan and she now remembered how angry he had been when they discovered Prina in the wagon and what she had been through, no wonder if something similar had happened to him. “How old were you?”

Rhawan did shake a bit. “About forty, I had entered puberty but I hadn’t awakened yet, I was innocent and naïve and that piece of shit knew this of course. Oh he did teach me a lot of useful things, it wasn’t all bad but he had this odd habit of touching me when he was praising me”

Wenja swallowed. “Touching?”

Rhawan did shudder in disgust. “Yes, at first there wasn’t anything odd about it, a pat on the back, or on my cheeks. I was after all still a kid, I wanted to be praised and I loved it when he did brag about me. I didn’t anticipate anything bad for how could I? The very idea is alien to us”

Ahravan had been silent but now he did reach out and touched Rhawan’s hand lovingly. “Yes, among our people such is unheard of. “

Rhawan did close his eyes. “The touches became more…sexual…after just a few months, I didn’t really react at first for I saw others touching all the time as is the custom among our people but something about it felt wrong”

Ahravan sighed. “Wenja, your people does regard us elves as very tempting, as very beautiful and many does lust after us, even when they do fear us”

Wenja remembered that from the journey to the plains. “Yes, I know of that”

Rhawan sighed and laid back against the bench. “The hunter was clearly interested in me and he knew that I wasn’t ready for that sort of contact yet and still, he couldn’t help himself. He was in denial of the true nature of our relationship. He was my tutor and I was supposed to be able to trust him completely”

Wenja bit her lower lip. “What did he do to you Rhawan?”

Her voice was low and thin and the dark skinned elf did look down, he did shiver a bit and Ahravan got up and embraced him. “Something awful, something nobody has the right to do”

Rhawan tried to smile. “We were out hunting for antelopes in the steep mountains, we were miles away from the village but thanks to my reluctance to go with him my father had followed us in secret. I had started to act strangely around the man, didn’t want to spend time with him like before and father, well, he knew how some humans did regard us eternal. He didn’t want to believe that something was off but he wanted evidence so he did sneak after us. I thank the Gods that he did”

Wenja just stared, her heart aching already. “Did he…”

Rhawan let out a sort of sob. “Rape me? Yes, but it did escalate well before that. He didn’t pat my back anymore but my ass, he would grope my crotch too, or try to kiss me. He kept saying that I was growing up and needed to learn and I hated it, it wasn’t right”

Wenja was aghast. “And your people did allow such a person to live among them?”

Rhawan did nod. “Yes, because they didn’t know that some people are sick in the head, remember that I was a child still, growing yes but not at all fully developed. If I had been an adult elf that man would never have been able to subdue me in the first place, I would have torn him to shreds.”

Wenja was silent, Rhawan was trembling in the firm grasp of Ahravan who kept stroking his back, making cooing sounds to calm his Si’ish down. “I had gone to bed for the night, I was so very tired for we had been chasing this one antelope for hours and I wasn’t yet strong enough to run for an entire night like an adult. I did fall asleep…”

Wenja had to swallow hard, she felt sick to the core and through her bond with Rhawan she did feel his anguish and his sorrow, and a faint echo of agony. Rhawan did hide his face against Ahravan’s wide chest. “I woke up with him on top of me, I didn’t understand at all and he said he would show me how to make love like an adult. I did panic, but I wasn’t strong enough, I didn’t manage to get him off of me. He…”

Ahravan did catch Wenja’s gaze. “He did indeed rape Rhawan, did fuck him again and again until he passed out from the sheer pain and blood loss. If I had been there I would have ripped that bastard’s throat out”

Rhawan did sigh. “It was horrible, I was so helpless and I couldn’t believe that it was true, I believed that there had to be something wrong with me, why would a human want to do these things to me otherwise? I wanted to die, I couldn’t bare it but he kept doing it, saying that he would tell the others I had fallen into a crevice and that they never would find me.”

Wenja gasped. “He wanted to kill you?!”

Rhawan did nod. “Yes, he knew that the others would understand the moment I returned home, he knew that we elves can speak through our minds and he wanted to get as much out of me as he could before he did end me. That was when father did arrive and it wasn’t a moment too soon. I was close to dying”

Wenja did hold her breath. “What did your father do?”

Rhawan sighed and looked at her again. “He did pin the bastard to a tree with his spear, then he did cut off his cock and balls and impaled him with his own spear. The man died slowly, as he did deserve”

Wenja swallowed hard. “And then?”

Rhawan tried to smile. “I was nurtured back to health, it did take years before I could stand the touch of somebody I didn’t know and I struggled for years when my body started to awaken to its own needs and desires. I felt so filthy but the shamans back home were wise and showed me that I had no guilt, that I wasn’t tainted or ruined. But I couldn’t allow any male to mount me, until I met Ahravan”

Wenja shivered. “I understand that”

Rhawan took a deep breath. “I left my home early, I couldn’t stay there for there were just too many bad memories, too much grief and doubt. I bet my parents still live within the mountains, and I hope they are happy”

Wenja swallowed hard. “Do you miss them?”

Rhawan sighed deeply and embraced her, she felt his warm breath against her neck and returned the embrace with all her love and compassion swelling within. “Of course, I have a sister by the way, younger than me. I left because of her, I feared that…”

He choked on his words. “I feared that I would taint her somehow”

Wenja did stroke the thick dark locks and she knew that these things had happened millennia ago and yet the memory did seem almost fresh to Rhawan. She could sense it through their bond and she wondered how he had managed to overcome the trauma to become the very jolly and easy going person he was now. Elves weren’t fond of change, she did know that now and yet he had. Ahravan did smile, a very sad smile. “I saw that hurt in him when we first met, and yet he didn’t allow it to break him. I admired that, and I still do”

Rhawan would have blushed if it had been visible. “Ahravan has been my light for many long years now, he helped me overcome the memories”

Wenja smiled, she had sensed the intense feelings the two males did share. “And me, when did you start thinking of me as something else than just Ahravan’s future wife?”

Rhawan tilted his head and the boyish glimpse within his eyes did return. “The moment I first laid eyes upon you, you were so different from everybody else there and I think I saw the light within you even then.”

Wenja did grasp his hand and kissed it reverently and Ahravan did sit up and embraced Rhawan from behind, kissing his ear and caressing his chest gently. “You did see deep then, and true. I have never regretted trusting you thus”

Rhawan did almost hide his face within his hands in sheer embarrassment over the praise and Wenja did slide her hands up his thighs, slowly and with obvious intentions. “I liked you too you know, even if I was scared of you. You were so different, so powerful”

Rhawan gasped as Wenja started to stroke him gently, he did react immediately and he moaned and leaned back against Ahravan who did continue to kiss and caress slowly and gently. Wenja was always stunned by how completely Rhawan would surrender to Ahravan, how perfectly he did yield to Ahravan’s advances and how lovely they were together. It was a love way older than herself and it made her humble to watch it. She was dead set on giving Rhawan as much pleasure as possible and before long she was very busy licking and sucking him. Rhawan was trembling and gasping and Ahravan did hold him in place, mumbling small encouragements to Wenja who tried to outdo herself. When Rhawan did come he arched and panted and Wenja found that she had no problems doing this for him, without any feeling of shame or doubt.

The others had left the baths so they were alone and after just a little they were all eagerly involved in some rather hefty love making, Wenja was glad she had taken a bath and that her muscles were soft and stretched for otherwise she would become very sore indeed very fast. When it was over they just laid there dozing until Wenja started to feel cold and they returned to their hut. The familiar scent of it and the warm bed was like a vision of heaven and Wenja did fall asleep almost the moment she laid down, exhausted and relaxed and feeling very safe and also oddly confident.

The next morning they were awakened by Imh who was banging on something outside of the door, she didn’t stop until Ahravan did push the door open and glared at her. It turned out that she was using a ladle to bang on a kettle and she was grinning from one ear to the other. There was little doubt that Sefa had spread the happy news to everybody and Ahravan did sigh. “What?”

Imh grinned even wider. “I have breakfast ready for you all, and extra ale for Wenja, she needs it now”

Ahravan did roll his eyes, the dwarves always insisted that expecting females did need lots of ale and he didn’t envy Wenja at all. The ale they did serve those who were blessed thus was a very dark and bitter one and sometimes it was so thick it did look more like tar than ale. Imh did scurry inside and cleared a table before bringing inside all the jars and baskets of food and Rhawan did leave the bed area looking very dishevelled. The thick hair hadn’t been braided and he was yawning so wide you could count his molars. Wenja saw that jug of ale and she did almost rear back in shock and Imh started a long speech about how healthy it was and how it would strengthen her baby. Wenja did look as if she’d rather drink horse piss.

Ahravan did go to check upon the situation and he did just wolf down some bread and cheese and left Rhawan and Wenja to the gentle care of Imh who obviously was beside herself with sheer joy. Wenja felt conflicted, she didn’t want any extra attention and yet she did realize that she would get just that, in loads and loads.

She did eat and Imh managed to get her to drink a whole cup of the dark ale, it made Wenja shudder from her head to her feet. Ahravan did return and they got dressed, the meeting was to be held early in the day so they had to prepare well. Wenja felt that she really didn’t want to be there but knew she had to, she didn’t want anybody to say anything bad about Ahravan and Rhawan, they had done what they had to do and screw the eventual consequences. She got on a very nice dress in dark bronze velvet and she did braid her hair loosely. She felt as if she was heading into a battle.

The meeting was to be held in one of the great halls within the city and it wasn’t one where she had been before. It was shaped so that everybody could see and hear the ones speaking and she and Sefa did stay behind as the leaders did sum up the situation. There had been several attacks but there didn’t seem to be people left out on the plains, at least not this far north. The tribes who weren’t a part of the twelve clans had wisely emigrated south or into the inland and thus they had avoided the worst of the problem but there were large packs of monsters on the loose and they were heading south too. Ahravan and Rhawan did try to come up with ideas of how to stop them, and many did fear that the beasts would be drawn to the city first and foremost. Here there were people and the monsters didn’t care about wild animal’s as much as sentient beings. They were a weapon and the wildlife hadn’t been a threat to the dark ones at all.

But the discussions were stuck, nobody had any really good ideas as to how to protect the area and even the shamans did doubt that they could keep the beasts out for any substantial amount of time. The city was easy to defend but they were just so many defending it and the beasts didn’t fear for their own life and health at all. All they wanted was to kill. One of the elder there started asking questions about the quest Ahravan and Rhawan had taken and they did answer, the entire thing was explained and there was some commotion among the large crowd which had gathered there. Ahravan didn’t try to hide the fact that Wenja had been close to death when they brought her back and he didn’t try to hide that they had known what they were doing. The elder were mumbling and so were the shamans and the warriors and many did look as if they were a bit angry or nervous. Wenja didn’t know why, but she did sense their thoughts, their intentions. She felt what they were going to say and she walked forth, got up onto the dais where the speakers stood and took her place next to Ahravan and Rhawan. Some did frown, she hadn’t been summoned yet but she held her head up high and her eyes were shooting sparks or so it seemed. If they were to slander her husbands she would beat them to it. One of the elders there was an elf who probably was some millennia older than Ahravan and Wenja did sense that this one in fact was jealous of him and his power and popularity. Such feelings were not common among elves but they did exist and she realized that there were more similarities between the eternal and the mortal than she had previously believed.

She stared at the ancient elf with the dignity and pride of a queen as she crossed her arms over her chest. “You all saw the cat who followed us, you have seen that the unicorn Ahravan was given has been returned to his former strength. You have learned that the gate has been closed, once and for all and that the dark ones who opened it in the first place never will bother our world again. It was all because of them! It was all because of the Goddess and her good will and help. I am here because of her, I am her servant now and I speak with her voice.”

The shamans did snicker and nod, their eyes revealing a not small amount of smug glee, they knew the truth and would never deny that it had been needed, whatever they had done. The leaders did stare at her, the one who did resent Ahravan did try. “But they broke the laws, one should never try to bring a dying person back with the help of magic!”

Wenja glared at him, she was impressive in this moment, her back straight, her chin raised and her hair did shine in the torch light like flames. “They did what the goddess asked of them. Forget that I am their mate, forget that I am the future mother of their offspring. I am the one to be born twice and they did fulfil that prophecy by saving me. If they hadn’t done it the lands would have been overrun by monsters and there would only have been darkness and death left.”

The old elf made a grimace. “Still, couldn’t the goddess have done something by her own hands, I mean…”

Wenja did interrupt him. “The gods cannot normally interfere directly, you should know that. They work through us, we are their servants, the pieces to be moved on the chessboard of fate. No, she couldn’t have saved me for that would have turned me into a deity, which I am not”

Everybody did look down and Wenja did take Ahravan’s hand. “I am his spouse, the Eth’ir and my words are not to be questioned in this, is that clear? I will not hear a negative word about his actions and choices”

She fixated the crowd with a strict stare. “What was done was done, now we have to focus on the future, we have to keep ourselves safe until the threat can be eradicated”

There was loud mumbling and voices did call out, suggestions which were more or less smart. “Shut up and listen!”

The voice came from Resh’kha who stood in a corner with Floth’bha resting in her armpit. They were snuggled up together rather nicely. Wenja did throw them a grateful glance and she did lift the bag she had been given by the goddess. “I have an idea, and I am sure it will do the trick rather well. I can sense it”

The shamans did nod and everybody stared at the bag. Wenja did grin. “Sometimes you cannot see the forest because of the trees”

She walked down from the dais and set a course for the entrance of the city. The area in front of it was sandy and dry and the cliff was forming a very long narrow corridor towards the entrance itself. Khor’ath was out there, the dark unicorn did whinny and snorted and Wenja did pet him before she walked out towards the plain. She stopped when she came so far that the cliff no longer protected her flanks. There were others following her, curious and confused and Wenja did feel how the earth itself was waiting underneath her. The goddess had prepared everything well. Wenja opened the bag and Khor’ath did lower his mighty head and poked a hole in the sand with the horn. Wenja dropped a seed into the hole and pushed the sand back over it and then she took a few steps and did the same again. She kept walking, forming a line between the rock walls and everybody just stared. This wasn’t fertile ground at all, it was too dry and the sand held little nutrition. As she started the third row back and forth between the cliff walls the seeds she had dropped first started to sprout and the seedlings did stretch out towards the sun like a child reached out for its parent.

The shamans had started to chant and Resh’kha did walk along the rows, shouting blessings in her own language. Wenja did grin at the orc, her magic was more aggressive, more enabling and that was needed now. As they did walk back and forth a veritable wall of thin reed like seedlings did stretch out of the sand and the sand itself got covered with a sort of thick green moss. It did look completely unreal and unnatural and yet it felt surprisingly fitting for the surroundings.

Wenja did stop after twenty rows, the seedlings seemed to spread on their own now, through the roots and the area in front of the city was by now covered by a rapidly growing forest. And it did spread out, along the cliffs, outwards, up the cracks and crevices too. Wenja was very tired now, as if she had worked hard for days and perhaps she truly had spent much of her strength. Ahravan and Rhawan had been standing in the background, stunned by her authority and the way she had subdued the critics. She wasn’t a poor shepherd’s daughter anymore, that was for sure. Now she was truly a queen, a chosen one and she was a force to be reckoned with.

Wenja turned to the crows. “Go back inside, come the morrow and we will see what the goddess has brought us”

The huge herds of animals were grazing not far from the city and she did see Frostfoot and the Zahar had been seen to kill monsters by the dozen. It had in fact grown a bit taller and she was rather sure that the goddess had brought him their way, it hadn’t been a coincidence at all that Rhawan found him. Ahravan did grasp her and kissed her gently as she walked by, he whispered into her ear. “Thank you, you were impressive my light”

Wenja did giggle and closed her eyes in bliss. She felt very content now, she had done a good job. “Oh I needed to do that, that tall brown haired one didn’t want to let you off the hook, I think he wanted to create doubt about your suitability as Ath’ir”

Ahravan grunted. “Oh Bhelandir, he is a sour apple and has always been, always convinced that he knows best but if he did he would have been chosen instead of me and he would have been Ath’ir instead of a shoe maker.”

Wenja did laugh again and they went back into the city to look at the maps and try to see if there was some way to eradicate the packs before they moved too far inland and southwards.

The rest of the day was spent there, in the storage rooms which had become a sort of operations centre and the warriors did gather there to receive orders. There hadn’t been any packs nearby for several days and so most were present and Ahravan did tell them all about the monsters they had seen, the fell trolls and the goblins and how they were to fight if it came to that. Wenja sat there with Sefa discussing clothing and she did notice that Sefa did look very smug indeed. She had apparently spent last night in a very pleasurable manner for she had some hickeys which were revealing to say the least and she had an odd gait. Wenja felt that it was wonderful to have this moment of normality again, just sitting there chatting like ordinary girls do and she watched how Ahravan and Rhawan did demonstrate the best ways to kill the different beasts. Floth’bha and Resh’kha did also enter the hall and sat down and Resh’kha did tell about her experiences. The two dwarves had spent the last hours with their own people and it was rather obvious that Kulkar and Dharan had managed to convince the other dwarves that it would be smart to go north to investigate and explore the city they had found. The two were extremely eager.

There was a small feast that evening with lots of meat and wine and yet nobody had dared to wander outside. The forest was still growing and they could hear odd sounds coming from the entrance. The night was spent sleeping and watching others dance or tell tales and when the morning did come everybody was shocked to the core. It was indeed a forest, and it did look as if it had been there forever. Massive trees, almost the size of the great mother tree up north, thick grooves with smaller slender beeches and birches and massive oaks with ragged bark and thick canopies. And on the ground thick moss and grasses and also row upon row of thorny bushes, now adorned with lovely rose like flowers. The forest covered the entire area in front of the cliff in every direction and for many long miles and Wenja was stunned just like the others. The forest felt as if it was aware, in some strange manner. Walking in among the trees meant you were being watched and everybody felt a bit shocked by the eerie sensation. But nothing did happen and the animals did eat the grass and here and there springs had emerged and fed small rivers.

It was lovely and brought new life to the region for sure but how could it be protection? That question was answered a few days later, some of the scouts returned to the city in a hurry, there was a whole herd of beasts heading in their direction and they were huge and nasty and among them were also swarms of the smaller stinging kind of demon, the type which laid eggs in people. Ahravan did run around giving orders and the entrance to the city was barricaded with rocks and solid timbers. The cliffs were just too vertical to be climbed and there was no way the beasts could enter the city through the light shafts and the ventilation holes, the dwarves had been very smart when they made this place. The beasts were indeed huge and they had probably come down from the mountains just days prior for they were strong and eager. Wenja saw that it was several hundred of them and the animal herds had moved out of the way, as if they knew that this was somebody else’s business.

Everybody was prepared for an attack and the monsters did not hesitate. They entered the new forest and now everybody did see what Wenja had created. The trees were indeed sentient and aware of the darkness which did approach them. Suddenly roots and branches were swinging through the air, thorny bushes did transform to whips with long sharp talons and the monsters were stopped immediately. The sight was horrifying, the roots and branches did pierce the beasts and appeared to suck the very juices out of them, only dry husks were left and it went surprisingly fast. Within a few minutes not one of the large beasts was alive and the smaller stinging ones were simply dragged down into the moss and disappeared. When it was over there was an eerie silence and then the trees started moving in the wind again, as if nothing had happened.

Everybody did stare at each other, there was little doubt that this city was a safe place now and for forever, nothing bad could enter it. The forest was a death trap and no creature of darkness could get through. Wenja was smiling as she walked along the path leading up to the entrance, her people were safe, that was all that mattered.

Ahravan and the other warriors were coming up with a plan, the forest was there for a reason, not just to protect the city but to reclaim what was once taken from this world by the predecessors of these beasts. They had to lure the beasts to them and it did mean that many had to go out there to function as bait. They did light huge bonfires on top of the cliffs and the sight of smoke did draw some beasts towards the city, but the best method was to let them see people and now the very best and fastest riders were sent out. They would drag the carcass of a dead goat after them to create a tempting smell and it did work.

Wenja would stand in the entrance each time one of the riders returned with a pack of monsters at his or her heels. She didn’t flinch or retreat even once and she did trust completely in the forest and the power of the goddess. Ahravan was in awe of her courage and many did see that the Ath’ir had gained a wife who was way more than anybody had expected.

For some weeks the city was busy getting rid of the monsters, the riders had to go further and further out and the packs became smaller by the day. Some monsters could be killed where they were and the packs had started to attack each other to get meat. As the spring did bring green grass and new life the sight of monsters became a rare one and the tribes started to return to the plains. Bagir and Igkhan did return to the inland that spring, they had spent months there now and wanted to go back to their homes and Wenja did weep when they said goodbye and Ahravan did make sure that Bagir and Igkhan did get good horses and great riches. Floth’bha and Resh’kha had a very wild and lively wedding and everybody were having a great time. It was amazing.

The plains were safer now than before and the trade picked up again. The twelve clans had decided to stay in the city for a year and move again when the next spring came, they had to be sure that the path was completely safe and Wenja was glad. She didn’t want to travel while being pregnant. She was starting to feel a bit bothered by it when the autumn came, she was getting heavier and as she started to show many did treat her as if she was a deity in the flesh. The great cat had disappeared when the monsters did but Frostfoot and the herds were still in the area. It was rather clear that the clans would be protected for many years to come.

Ahravan would spoil her royally and at night he could lay there with his face close to her stomach, humming songs or telling tales and it was truly very sweet. Wenja was sick rather often and didn’t eat as much as Imh wanted her to, this lead to her being almost force fed on a daily basis and she did hate it. Sefa did reveal that she too was expecting one day in the early days of winter, she had managed to snare Khirhien and the two were regarded as a married couple by now. Wenja was very happy for Sefa since the other woman was going to be a terrific mother. Sometimes the two males became a bit too much the way Wenja saw it and then it was nice to retreat with Sefa and just be an ordinary girl again. Ahravan and Rhawan did treat Wenja as if she was made from something incredibly fragile and it felt annoying at times. She did also get weird cravings and Imh was a life saver, she did understand what it truly was that Wenja needed and managed to get substitutes for the most insane things. It wasn’t always delicious but it did stop the urge rather fast. The warriors were still needed for although there were few monsters left they travelled in small packs now or even alone and that made them hard to spot so everybody were alert and aware of the potential dangers out there. The clans had gotten used to living in one space now but it did feel strange to some, they weren’t used to it and longed for the spring when they could travel again.

Sometimes monsters would show up at the forest and they were disposed of very quickly and the forest did grow still but now at a more normal rate. Some of the dwarves did leave for the north, eager to explore and Kulkar and Dharan was among them, they had become people of importance now and many did look to them for advice. The plains were returning to normal now and the herds of wild animals did slowly spread again but some of the predators did stay in the vicinity of the city. Frostfoot and Khor’ath did seem to cooperate at times and the huge wolves and cats did stay there and would often finish any beasts before they even reached the city. But there was an increase in the tiny beasts which laid eggs and they were very hard to find and also showing up at very strange places. One of the warriors swore he had seen one trying to climb a tree in one of the sacred groves and another told about several dead ones he had found by the river banks. They had probably tried to cross the river but drowned.

Wenja was very busy these days, as she got larger and moving about got harder she had to stay in the city most of the time and she had to prepare. She didn’t really have to do much for she was given all the stuff she could possibly need and more by the women of the clans. Baby clothes and equipment was delivered at her door almost every day and among the object were quite a few which did confuse her a lot. Somebody had left some rather pretty sea shells there, they were completely smooth and round on the inside and the outside had been carefully carved into delicate patterns. Wenja couldn’t understand what they were for but Theka did explain, they were for protecting her nipples when she was nursing her baby. One did fill the inside with ointment and placed them over the nipples and thus one did prevent the fabric of one’s dress from chaffing against the sensitive tissue.

Wenja hadn’t really thought about that before, when Sina had been nursing it hadn’t lasted all that long since she was weakened by the hard work and the lack of decent food but Theka did inform Wenja that she would have to nurse her baby for at least a year. Wenja started to feel as if she was about to become a dairy cow and her chest did grow just as much as her belly. At times it was hard getting out of the bed but she had all the help she could possibly ask for. She was sitting by one of the pools in the baths and enjoying the warmth. Sefa and Theka and some of the other women there were bathing and having a good time, in the winter there wasn’t that much to do except sharing gossip and stories and Wenja did like this. It was a sort of safety in it, a familiarity. Everybody would take care of her and protect her and it was such a wonderful safety in it.

Sefa was in the pool explaining how Khirhien usually would spoil her royally and Wenja did giggle and recognized some of the things that were being told. Now that she was getting really large she couldn’t sleep in every position she liked anymore, she found that cumbersome but her husbands did his best to make it up to her. They would rub her feet and bring her food and just be there for her even when she felt miserable and accused them of being too protective or enjoying her misery. Theka did work as a midwife from time to time and advised Wenja to keep being active until the very last weeks and she had to blush and admit that yes, she did crave intimacy just as much as before but it was a bit difficult now. And she also had to run off to pee all the time.

Imh had arrived with some dessert she had made and everybody were tasting them and bragging about how delicious they were. Wenja had gotten a huge bowl with a sort of sweet porridge and it was very tasty indeed. She was about to finish the bowl when she felt a sudden kick, the baby had been moving a lot lately but the kick was almost vicious and it made her curl up for a second, in time to see. A small scorpion like creature was scurrying across the floor, heading for her and it did ignore the others there, it was aiming for her and the tail with the long needle like stingers was raised.

Wenja froze, she just knew it, the darkness didn’t give inn willingly, it wanted a last go at vengeance and it was going to succeed. The small monster did look as if somebody had mixed scorpion snake and spider and it had small glowing red eyes and it did look just vicious, It wasn’t a natural being, it was created by evil and it did move so fast it was hard to believe that it was true. If it did sting her it would kill her, even if she by now was mostly elf. One of the other women there saw it and screamed and Wenja tried to get up but she was too heavy and clumsy. That was when Imh suddenly proved her courage and the toughness of the dwarves. She moved with surprising strength and speed and kicked out, the way a kid does when playing ball. Her foot did make contact with the creature and sent it flying in a wide arch, it did end up in one of the small pools with very hot water and they all heard a terrible shrieking sound as the thing did sink.

Wenja was shivering and trembling and Sefa did embrace her, Theka did yell orders and Imh stood there looking very proud. Now Ahravan and Rhawan would make sure that one of them would be present at all times and it didn’t take more than five minutes before Ahravan did arrive, wild eyed and panting. He was lifting her like she was weightless and carried her back to their hut and she was a bit hysterical so Sefa did bring some relaxing herbal tea. Ahravan was pale and trembling too, he had been told how close it had been and it was beyond doubt a last vicious attempt at killing the one responsible for the defeat of the dark ones. He did send all the warriors in the city to search every nook and cranny and they did, with torches and lamps and the dwarves did help them eagerly. The city was searched from top to bottom and no less than five of the small monsters were found, all hiding in areas where there weren’t people most of the time. All were killed and burned and the huge hunting dogs were released to run free through the city. They would catch the scent of these little devils and alert people. The ones which had been found had entered through a small side tunnel which had partially collapsed ages ago but still provided a small hole the beasts could use and now it was bricked shut and filled with mortar, nothing would come inn there again.

That night Ahravan held Wenja very tight and she knew how dangerous it had been and how this proved that evil was present still, just not as powerful and visible as before.

She would always be different and her daughter would probably be very powerful, it could be that the darkness knew this and wanted that threat removed, before it was even born. But her child had sensed the presence and warned her and she wondered again about how her life had changed.

The next weeks Wenja wasn’t allowed to go anywhere without anybody following her, not even to the privy. Sometimes Resh’kha or Floth’bha did guard her and other times it was one of Ahravan’s warriors if he or Rhawan was caught up doing something else. Many did leave the city now, they returned to the old rhythm of their people and headed for the familiar pastures. It was if not completely safe at least safer than before and Wenja was looking forward to travelling again too, but not before she had given birth.

She was getting very tired of being this huge and would compare herself with a bloated balloon, but she didn’t really loose her optimism and it was mostly said just in jest. Some of the other women there came there to help her prepare and as her body was becoming more and more elven she discovered that there were differences she needed to learn more about. In the twelve clans the rearing of children was seen as a very personal thing, if somebody wanted many children it was fine, if they didn’t want any that was fine too. Everybody was different and of different interests and different skills too so nobody would be mocked because of their choices. Wenja had some long conversations with Theka and Nefhriel and the other friends she had gotten, when she grew up she did see how the expectations of the society did ruin many lives and she was so glad this place was different. In the village a woman had one place and that was in the home as a brood mare and worker. Again she was praising all the Gods she had been chosen to be Ahravan’s wife. She wanted kids and always had but only as many as she could handle and not one new one each year until she was a toothless skinny old hag.

She was being treated as if she was a treasure by everybody and the shamans in special did show her great reverence, it made her feel a bit self-conscious but Ahravan did encourage her to talk with them and explore her role.

When they started to move again she would sow seeds at every stop and the plains would change over time, she was glad that she now had a task and one she was proud of. She was in fact sitting there chatting with one of the shamans about the powers of the circle she had seen on the journey north, where they had awakened the relic. The shaman wanted to know as much as possible and she was explaining about it when she got an odd sensation of being wet? She felt mortified, she had in fact peed herself a few times and it was very embarrassing but nobody did really care about it. These things did happen and since she by now had reached the time when the baby could be born any day Theka had prepared her for small mishaps. But as she got up she discovered that this was much more than just a small mishap, liquid was gushing down her legs and she froze completely. The shaman saw what was happening and snickered. “Oh by the Goddess, your little one is on the way Eth’ir. May the Gods smile on the hour of her birth”

Wenja had to take a deep breath, she wasn’t ready, no way! She didn’t want this! She had been so sure but now she wasn’t and Theka came running and grasped her hand. “Easy my dear, she will not arrive just yet.”

Theka and another woman helped Wenja return to the hut, they did un-braid her hair and removed every knot from her surroundings and then Wenja was clad in a very loose gown and placed in the bed. She felt terribly vulnerable and alone and the first contractions made her react with panic. Ahravan did arrive, he had been out with the horses and he was very pale. Rhawan too did come running, trying to calm Ahravan down and for a short time it was chaos. Two hysterical males and one even more hysterical mother to be but Theka did manage to calm everybody down. Ahnriel did arrive with one of the elven midwives and the hut became crowded. Sefa did arrive too and Wenja did feel a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of people present. But soon she had other things to think about. Since she had become an elf in almost every possible manner she would face a slightly different birthing experience than a human woman, her pelvis was still rather wide so it wouldn’t be too terrible but full blooded elves did usually spend several days before the baby was born. That piece of information didn’t sit well with her.

As her body prepared Imh did bring some food and drink and Ahravan did walk around, as nervous as a squirrel and Rhawan did try to make him sit down for he did make everybody dizzy with his wandering. Theka did order one of the huge bathtubs to be brought inn and it was filled with hot water with some herbs in it and Wenja had learned that giving birth in water was normal there. It was easier for both the mother and the baby. Wenja had learned a lot about the things which were to happen and how to response but the contractions did banish it all from her brain or so it did seem. She hadn’t believed that such pain was possible and she was panting and wailing and struggling. Theka did order her to suck it up rather strictly and oddly enough that did work. She didn’t want to embarrass herself or Ahravan and remembered that Sina had given birth many times without even a midwife present, and now she was there having several present. She had no reason to complain.

Theka said that her baby was in a hurry, it did progress rather fast and it did only take a few hours before Wenja was told to prepare to push. She was helped over into the tub and everybody who didn’t have to be there were shooed outside by Theka who by now had showed that she indeed could be both firm and determined. She had a lot of authority and did commandeer the others around. Wenja was told that she was ready and she had never felt less ready for anything in her whole life.

She was kneeling in the bathtub and Ahravan was told to get in there too to let her support her weight on him. He did step inn, by now Wenja was beside herself with pain and fear and Ahnriel did place her hands on Wenja’s back to ease some of the discomfort. Theka did try to take their minds off the process by telling of her own births. When her first was born the midwife was of those who claimed that no pain relief was to be given for it would be ungodly and wrong. Theka had almost torn that woman’s hair out in rage. Wenja was also ready to tear things off, namely Ahravan’s things. She was never gonna let him or Rhawan near her again, she accused them of being complete bastards who only thought of their own pleasure and she did scream insults. Theka did only grin and Ahravan was in tears, terrified that something bad would happen and regretting that he had gotten her knocked up in the first place. Theka did relatively dryly comment that Wenja would look forward to the day when they could start fucking again, people always did.

But this last stage did take time, Wenja was very strong and young and it did progress very well but did take time. Theka did reassure her that the next time would be way easier and Wenja did almost foam at the mouth proclaiming that she never would let this happen to her again. In the end her instincts did win over her rage and fear and she did start to push as she should but her screams of pain did make Ahravan tremble and Rhawan had to leave the room, he wasn’t able to stay in there anymore. Theka had gotten into the tub behind Wenja and Wenja was panting and wailing, on her knees and more or less hanging from Ahravan’s shoulders. Theka did grin and winked at Ahravan. “She is a strong one, don’t worry. This is an easy birth, I have seen way worse in my days. Come on girl, one more push, with all you have. I can see the head now and my oh my does she have your colour”

Wenja did howl, the agony all she could sense and suddenly she did remember, she remembered the journey through the land on the other side, the meeting with her mother and the vision of her children. She would bear more children and by the Goddess, how in heck’s name could she ever become stupid enough to let this happen again? There had to be something fundamentally wrong with women who chose to have many children! But she did push, she felt how her body struggled and strained and then something seemed to come loose and left her and her final scream became a tired sob. Theka did catch the baby with expert technique and lifted it gently out of the water. Two seconds went by and then they heard the healthy howl of a very vigorous infant and Ahravan burst into tears.

Theka was laughing. “No doubt about this one, she has your skin Ahravan, and your eye colour but such peculiar eyes”

Wenja felt so horribly tired but suddenly that didn’t matter. She did turn around and grasped for her baby, desperate to hold her and smell her and just protect her. The eyes were indeed odd, the intense green colour of Ahravan’s eyes but with a dark ring around the irises and they did look very wolf like. Wenja remembered now, her daughter would be a servant of the Goddess, and she accepted that now. It was perhaps not such a bad price to pay after all for her happiness and survival.

Ahravan kept weeping and Rhawan did return and he wept too and Wenja was convinced that this was the most precious baby ever born and every God ought to protect those who did try to harm her in any way. Theka did make sure that the placenta was whole and that Wenja didn’t have any tears and then the little one was washed and wrapped in a blanket and Wenja was completely and utterly in love. Suddenly she wanted more children, dozens of them and Ahravan had to laugh and Theka did giggle and said that this was normal too. But Wenja didn’t even notice them now and soon the room was occupied only by the parents and Theka. Wenja needed rest now and she hadn’t realized how tired she was until the baby did fall asleep. She wanted to stay awake but it was impossible.

Three days after they did hold the naming ceremony, it was custom that the father did choose a name for the new-born and it did rely on the connection between the two. Ahravan was very proud and so was Wenja, She had recovered amazingly well and was able to be up already the day after the birth. She was stiff and sore and she was aching but it didn’t matter that much. The baby was very calm and appeared to evaluate everything she did see with those piercing green eyes and she would nurse and sleep and she did barely cry even once.

Ahravan did present his daughter to the clans and there was a lot of cheering and shouts of joy, every birth was a thing worth celebrating in their eyes and there would be a huge feast that evening. Ahravan did seek the spirit of his daughter and her name came back, he did lift her so everybody could see her and she did coo and grinned. “I present to you my daughter, she is Tanarae, and she is a chosen”

They had already seen it, the faintly glowing patterns in her skin and they were like Wenja’s, just larger and more elaborate. One morning when they woke up there was a black she wolf sleeping underneath the crib and Wenja knew that it was meant to be there, it would watch over her daughter for the rest of her life and the huge cat was also spotted again, it too would act as a guardian so Wenja knew that the Goddess did watch over her child. Tanarae was a quiet child but she did seem to have an eerie connection with the land and the animals and Frostfoot and Khor’ath did seem to worship her. The Zahar would even allow the child to sit on his back and Wenja realized that Frostfoot had been for her daughter the whole time, he was to be her steed one day when she was fully grown and so was Khor’ath. Flint did also worship the child but the horse was mortal and he did still protect Wenja but in some years’ time he would be allowed to be a breeder instead of a fighter.

One day they would discover what Tanarae was all about but not yet, for now Tanarae was Wenja’s most precious little bundle of joy and she proved to be an excellent mother. Not that anybody ever had doubted that. Tanarae did mean Child of the woods and there was little doubt about that, the little one had no fear when she started running around exploring her surroundings, and the trees of the forest seemed to react to her and protect her. Wenja was very happy now and very content and as they yet again returned to their nomadic lifestyle she did follow the Goddess orders and planted some seeds at every stop. The city became a sacred place now, a temple to the goddess and the twelve clans would stop there rather often and the shamans and seers would stay there and it also became a place for healing and wisdom among all the races. Even orcs would come there to learn and it became very famous for its beauty and peace. After a few years the last monsters were gone and the threat was gone, people didn’t need to fear that problem anymore, thanks to Wenja and her husbands.

The sun was almost near to setting when the large group of travellers did enter the farm yard, the buildings were new and large and warm and the paddocks were filled with good sheep and cattle and some horses. The group was expected, riders had been sent ahead to tell of their arrival and Wenja did hold her breath as she got down from her horse. She rode a huge black mare who was a daughter of Ayr’esh and among the best steeds they had. She bit her lower lip and Ahravan did nod at her, his eyes soft and filled with trust and love and she smiled back, it would be alright for sure.

The door did fly open and Wenja couldn’t help it, she let out a small cry of joy. It was Ulfar and Sina and they had changed so much. Both were elderly people now and grey and wrinkled but so much healthier and Wenja did run over and allowed herself to be embraced. Ulfar was close to tears and Sina did cry and Wenja almost choked. “How is everybody?”

Ulfar did wipe his eyes. “See for yourself”

There were several people in the doorway, she saw Bagir at the back of the group, grinning widely. She first saw Surun, he was a young man now, tall and straight and his eyes were clear and filled with silent wisdom, no longer confused and distant as they had been. Idah and Farkur were also there, Farkur was almost an adult and a huge burly fellow already, sporting a long beard and thick braided hair. Idah was a neat girl with dark hair like Sina and a very sweet face, she did look very healthy and happy. Wenja did swallow, staring into the darkness and a figure did appear. It was Halda, and she was a beauty now, tall and golden haired and very elegant and she was no longer crippled at all. She did move like a normal person and she wore her hair braided up, it was clear that she was a married woman now. A slender young man was visible there too and Wenja had to grin, there was little doubt about his identity. Sina did grin and reached out and another girl did emerge from the house, she was also very pretty and rather small and she did stare at Wenja with obvious curiosity. Sina was barely able to speak and she had to gasp for breath a few times. “This is Ildera, she was born after you left”

Wenja did nod and Halda did walk forth, hugged her firmly. “Bagir did bring the bottle of water, and we drank. I am completely healthy now, and so is Surun. It did heal us”

Wenja did take a deep sigh of relief , her plan had worked and Ulfar did turn around and stared at Ahravan, it was obvious that he was impressed by the tall eternal and he did reach out and shook Ahravan’s hand. “So this is my law son, I must say that I never expected this to ever happen back then but it has been a blessing, a grand blessing for us all. We are no longer poor and we are all doing well”

Ahravan did bow his head and smiled. “The blessing has been mine, believe me, I am eternally grateful for what you did send me. She is our light and joy”

Wenja did giggle and Sina did stare towards the figures seated in the light wagon, her voice a mere whisper. “Are those?”

Wenja did nod and waved her hand. “They are, come forth children, these are your grandparents”

The children did step forth, since they were elven they did grow slower than a human one and did look much younger than they were. “This is Tanarae, my firstborn, Rhydar who is my second and then the twins, Arathan and Chidlar.”

Sina frowned. “Twins?!”

Wenja did grin from one ear to the other. “Yes, with a father each, thus the different skin”

The two boys had been a surprise just like Tanarae had been, suddenly Wenja discovered that she was pregnant again and this time with two. The birth had been terribly hard and she had been afraid of losing them both but Ahnriel had managed to keep them all safe and after that Wenja was convinced that four children were enough for her.

Rhydar was the only of her children she had planned for and Rhawan was his father, thus the almost black skin and golden eyes. Wenja hadn’t been in labour for more than four hours to have him and he had been a handful and still was, a very strong willed kid with an eerie ability to spin others around his little finger but there wasn’t a mean bone in his body, he was just very good at using every opportunity to his benefit.

Arathan was dark like Ahravan and he had deep golden red hair but Chidlar was black skinned and black haired and his eyes were light grey so he did look rather intense. Both would be excellent warriors and riders and they loved the plains as much as their fathers. Wenja was immensely proud of them all.

They had all fared so well during the long journey back to her birth place and she wanted them to meet their grandparents. She had decided that she didn’t want any more children and now her body was completely elven and thus under her complete control. Bagir did come to hug her too and Wenja felt a need to weep. The family had moved from the high valley into the more fertile ground further south and they were well off now. Their future was secure and she felt an intense surge of gratitude. Rhawan did greet Sina and Ulfar with great joy and they did hug him and Sina did drag Wenja aside and asked her how she was able to cope with two such studs. Sina hadn’t really changed that much but she told Wenja that after her last daughter was born she had money so she could buy herbs which stopped her from conceiving ever again. Now she was too old anyhow and could look forward to having grandchildren.

Wenja’s kids did run all over the place to explore and they sat down to tell the tales of the years which had gone by. Bagir had told everybody of Mjorr and his father and their fates and the village had split their belongings between everybody. Now the village was larger and run by a son of the former leader and it was a good place. Trade had been established with the people of the mountains thanks to Igkhan and the hunter had married a girl from the valley. There had been some warriors following the group and they did camp outside of the farm and Sefa had of course followed Wenja. She had a son with Khirhien who was left back home since he was more interested in being with his father than travelling. Sefa was impressed by the hospitality of Wenja’s parents and she did entertain them with telling of the small mistakes Wenja had made on the way to the plains. Resh’kha and Floth’bha had also joined them, the couple had adopted several children from different races and started a sort of orphanage and they were loved by all and did a great job raising strong and independent kids who did merge with the twelve clans and made the clans grow.

Wenja did tell Sina and Ulfar of the trek north, of the tests she had been through and the scars they had left in her mind but also the pride of having defeated darkness. Now the plain of the cliff was a sacred site many did visit and the huge mother tree was seen as an incarnation of the Goddess. That made Ulfar get up and disappear into one of the side rooms, he returned carrying something in his hand and Wenja did gasp. It was a small medallion, in the shape of a wolf’s head and it was very pretty and very old. Ulfar had to clear his throat before he was able to talk. “This was your mother’s Wenja, it disappeared just after she died and I looked for it for a long time but I was sure it was lost forever so I never mentioned it for you. It was meant for you, she said so. But when we did move we did take the old house apart and under the floorboards this had lain the whole time”

Wenja did grasp the tiny piece of metal and it felt warm and alive and tears did well up within her eyes. Suddenly she felt so much closer to her mother again and remembered the vision she had had as she laid dying. “Thank you mother, wherever you are, I thank you!”

She whispered it and Ahravan did squeeze her hand, smiling since he knew what she was thinking about. Ulfar did reach out and caressed Wenja’s cheek. “You have become a true queen now my little one, one of the eternal for sure. I am so very proud of you, you saved us all”

Wenja did blush and Rhawan did kiss her cheek lovingly. She had given him two sons and if Ahravan had been emotional Rhawan had been that much worse, he had been bawling at the birth of each of them and he was an extremely dedicated and caring father, just like Ahravan. She couldn’t have loved them more.

Wenja lowered her gaze. “I guess I have come full circle, I wanted my children to see this place, where I was raised. “

Ahravan held her hand. “I was told that marrying Wenja here would bring great joy, I did doubt it in my silliness but now I know better. She has indeed brought great joy, the daughter of the moon was right. The prophecy was the truth, I should never have doubted its power”

Ulfar smiled from one ear to the other. “Yes, you have come full circle my daughter, you have returned as a bringer of life and peace and we owe you so much. It was a day of blessing when Ahravan’s emissaries did arrive at the village”

Wenja did stare at the gathered crowd, her parents were getting old, one day they would be no more and her siblings would get children and one day they too would be gone but for now she was there and everything was good and the future wasn’t set yet. It could hold both joy and sorrow but she was ready for both, she was strong, she was in her heart one of the eternal and the heart of the eternal is forever beating. She would be there for them all, as it was meant to be. She held the hands of her husbands and nodded. “Yes, it was indeed a day of blessing, a day of fate. I owe my happiness to you Ulfar for allowing me to choose and to you Sina for letting me go”

She hugged her parents again and watched as Ildera did show her children the lambs and calves. She had been poor but now she was more than wealthy and she was at peace. No more dark clouds in the form of over eager suitors, no more monsters roaming freely. Now she was the one who sows and it was good that way. Yes, it was indeed a blessed day when she was chosen and so was this day, a day of memory and family. She would make sure that her siblings had everything they needed, and also their offspring and one day some of them would perhaps travel to the plains and they would be very welcome. The clans had returned to their age old traditions and it was good, it was the way of the Goddess. The trees she had planted did grow, leaving a trail of fresh grooves all over the plains and with them came new life and new beauty. Ahravan did kiss her forehead reverently and she giggled, squeezing his hand and Rhawan did wink at her. “The wagon has good springs, when the kids have gone to bed?”

Wenja did giggle again. “Yes, and both of you. I wouldn’t have been here if it wasn’t for you”

She did pat both her husbands on their firm rears and Rhawan did squeak and Ahravan did grunt and rolled his eyes with mock shock. Wenja placed her arms around their waists as they entered the farm house, the road had been long but indeed, the circle was unbroken, and it would stay that way forever.

The end.

(Authors note: Thank you for reading this story of mine, for adding it to your reading lists or just enjoying it. It means a lot to me. This story will be available on Amazon soon, as both e-book and later as paperback for anybody who wants to own a copy. Again, a huge thank you to everybody reading, reviewing and enjoying this tale. I have a deviant art account with the same name as here, i may post some images from the story there when i get the time. Love; Nuredhel)

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