The Music of Darkness

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Chapter eleven: The Dragon Eye Stones

Drell settled himself opposite his brother and regarded the flames in silence. Mina soon followed looking solemn and shaken. Loroedor was curious but he knew better then to question Drell when it came to Mina and he wasn’t about to interrogate a girl who had already been through so much and now looked as if she was about ready to crack, and so he went back to stirring the pot of stew that he was making.

Not but a few moments passed when one of the younger knights burst out excitedly from Blood Fox’s tent holding something small and round in his hand. The bright-eyed young lad eagerly placed the object in Redtree’s hand, looking vary much like a dog in a game of fetch. Redtree held the object up for inspection. It was a red stone, possibly a ruby, which had been shaped into a perfectly round ball, a feat that would have been nearly impossible for any craftsman no matter how skilled, at least two inches wide around; it looked like the type of thing one might use as an ornament on either a breastplate or in the hilt of a sword.

A simple trinket nothing more Drell concluded, but, just as he was about to look away, Redtree turned the stone ever so slightly causing the fire light to dance off its perfect surface making the stone shimmer in a most pecuierway. Something deep within the stone flashed vibrantly but none of the other’s seemed to notice. It had happened so quickly that for a moment Drell wasn’t certain if he had seen it at all, Redtree turned the stone again and the same thing happened. The second time left Drell with no doubts, he had indeed seen something, he just didn’t know what.

“Redtree do you mind if I take a look?” he asked. Redtree shrugged

“Be my guest,” he said, lightly tossing the stone to Drell who deftly caught it in his left hand. Holding the stone at eye level Drell turned it just as Redtree had once again causing the fire light to dance off the surface, making the stone glow. An image appeared inside the stone and Drell gazed intently at it, the image was that of a dragon’s eye. But the faint glow didn’t even begin to compare with the bright flash that he had seen before. So again, just as before, he turned the stone and this time, instead of glancing off the surface, the light shone right through the stone making it flash. Drell could now see that deep within the dragon eye there were words.

At first he could hardly read them but the more he concentrated the clearer they became, they were not in common, Dwarfen, Elfin, or the snarling language of the Minotaurs. They were in a tongue that was rarely spoken and even more rarely heard, dragon. Because the Shamera prided them self’s on being able to read and speak every known language and most of the unknown ones Drell had no problem reading the words but he dared not utter them for they formed an incantation and a powerful one at that. The stone seemed familiar to him some how, like he had seen it before even though he never had, unless. Quickly Drell dredged up every story he had ever heard that concerned a stone or gem of this type, when at last he found the one he was looking for his eyes widened and he gasped nearly dropping the stone. Puzzled and concerned Loroedor looked up from his work.

“What’s the matter Drell?” The young elf looked up.

“See for your self” he said tossing the stone over the flames to his brother who caught it.

“Just turn it and you’ll see” Loroedor, still puzzled, did as Drell said. There was the flash; the older elf went white and stared at Drell through the flames.

“It can’t be”

“Oh yes it can, and you have the proof right in front of you” Drell replied, gazing at the stone.

“ What are you talking about?” asked Redtree.

“Sir Knight do you not know what this is?” Loroedor held the stone up for the Knight to see.

“No should I?”

“This my friend is the Red Dragon Eye stone. One of the two crafted by the mage Haiyat” Redtree’s eyes widened

“Haiyat? You mean one of the Dragon Brothers?”

“The same” replied Loroedor solemnly.

“But that was just a story. Wasn’t it?” Redtree looked over his shoulder at the other Knights who shrugged.

“That is what many people have come to think but the truth is that the Dragon Brothers Arnon and Haiyat were just as real as you or I. The problem is that their story, passed down from mother to child, grandmother to grandchild through the ages, as is the nature of stories, has been told so many times that most of the facts have been replaced with fantasy and romantic falsehoods so that now many people cant even remember the original. However we Elves, and Dwarfs, have grandparents and great grandparents who are old enough to remember, we know the true story. Would you like to hear it?”

“Why not we have time enough, but do you mind if we eat while you`re telling it?” said Redtree.

“I don’t mind at all, please sit” replied Loroedor as he lifted the pot off the heat and began handing out the bowls.

“Would you like to tell it Drell or shall I?” asked Loroedor, as he filled his own bowl and passed the pot.

“Well… though it is true that this story is one of my favorites, admittedly you are the better story teller my brother so please proceed,”

“Vary well then as you wish” replied Loroedor settling himself comfortably with his bowl in his lap waiting for the others to settle before beginning,“Now this story took place about three thousand years ago and the Emperor Dragon Solnarn, who was at the time close to six thousand years old, which is still quite young for a dragon, was staring about his lair about to bust from boredom. At last, after much thought, he flew out of his lair in the Karzendarn Mountains determined to find some excitement.

After flying about the country for a while he began to think how dreadfully dull it was to have seen things from the same prospective for so long. He had seen the country from above so many times before and nothing at all had changed. He landed in the plains of Morlan and see what there was to see. But even on the ground nothing changed everything was the same as it had always been. Now growing even more bored it dawned on him what the problem was. His whole life he had seen things from a dragons point of view so now the view from above and that from below no longer surprised him because it was the way he had always seen, it was time for a change. He had spent enough time as a dragon. And so Solnarn took the form of a human, and headed for Hain Oringard.

Once there he purchased a fine sword and shield with the gold he had brought from his underground lair near the Jade Arch, along with the most expensive suit of armor he could get. He presented him self to King Kraius as Orin Bonebraker a humble Knight from a far and long forgotten country who now wished to see battle again under the service of a grate King such as his lord ship. And a fine picture of a knight Solnarn made, in his human form he stood at six feet tall with a strongly muscled and toned body, a handsome face with dark eyes flecked with red and vibrant fiery red hair that grew to just four inches below his ear’s. Kraius, who secretly preferred men to woman when it came to sexual fancy, liked what he saw and eagerly welcomed Orin into his service.

Three mouths later, while patrolling the market place, Sir Bonebraker’s eyes fell upon the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her name was Aislin Riverwood, daughter of a carpenter she looked more like the daughter of a King. Her skin was the color like to that of the barbarians that live in the plains. Her hair was the velvety violet black of the night sky. Her eyes were sparkly blue like butterfly wings. Her gown was a flourish of color making her appear to be the living embodiment of summer. And when she smiled he was instantly smitten. A year passed and the two were wed. Through out their courtship and engagement Solnarn had never revealed his true form, he hated having to keep something of himself a secret from her, so he resolved to tell her the truth on their wedding night. So instead of joining his wife in their wedding bed he stood before the mirror, asked her to shine the light of a candle on him, and look upon his reflection. She did as he bade and upon looking into the mirror she saw not the reflection of a man but that of a colossal red dragon. Aislin gasped and dropped the candle, which gave a small hiss as it’s own wax snuffed out the flame. Solnarn bowed his head

“I know I should have told you before and I’m sorry, it’s just that I was afraid that you would leave me if you found out. I love you Aislin, I didn’t want to hurt you please forgive me” Aislin remained silent and Solnarn sighed,“I understand” he would have left if Aislin had not leaped from the bed and grabbed hold of his arm.

“Please don’t go I don’t want you to go. Dragon or Human I still love you. I fell in love with a man and dragon or human that’s still what you are. You could be a griffin or a sea monster and I would still love you. I wont tell anyone I promise” Solnarn smiled and turned to embrace her

“Have I told you how much I love you?” About a month later Aislin was with child.

This was both joyous and troubling news for the couple. Troubling because not even Solnarn could be sure of what the child would look like. For though Solnarn looked like a man his true dragon heritage might show through in his offspring. The following nine months were filled with fret and anxiety for both. At the end of the nine-month period Aislin gave birth to twin boys, Arnon and Haiyat, and to the relief of their parents both appeared as healthy human babies and nothing more.

But this was not the end of their worries for if the dragon half of their parentage had not chosen to manifest it self physically it surely would do so in other ways. And it didn’t take long for these other ways to reveal them self’s. By the age of three both boys could twist steal bars with their bare hands and run faster than horses. As they got older these powers became stronger and others began to appear. Their vision was flawless they could both spot a bug on a tree trunk from at least five hundred meters and their night vision was even better. Thankfully however neither developed the ability to fly or breath fire.

When the boys turned eight years old Solnarn decided that it was time to tell them the truth about their parentage. He used the same trick with the mirror as he had with Aislin and calmly explained what this meant and answered all of their questions. He told them that they should feel proud to belong to such a fine race but that they would be wise to remember that though they were part Dragon they were also part Human and as such must not think them self’s above or be disrespectful toward other Humans. The boys took their fathers words to hart and worked hard to learn how to control their abilities. Solnarn remained with his small family until six months later when one of his Commanders came to Hain Oringard looking for him.

A strange clan of blue’s had come from the south, having heard of the vast wealth to be found in the mountains they had come to claim it only to find the reds in their way, they were looking for a fight and the reds needed their Emperor. Knowing well his duty Solnarn could not refuse and, biding a solemn farewell to his family, followed the Commander out of the city and away to the mountains.

Nine years passed before the blues at last decided that no treasure was worth that much carnage. Solnarn met with their Emperor Karronthas and agreed upon the solution which was to give some treasure to the blues as a gift of good faith and that they would then return to the south. Upon the blues departure Solnarn headed for Hain Oringard barley able to contain himself at the mere thought of seeing his family again.

He entered the city under great calibrations for he had left with out telling anyone where he was going or why and nine years is a long time for someone, especially the cities most acclaimed Knight, to just disappear. He said hello to a few of his close friends allowed an hour for others to see that he had indeed returned, instructed a fellow Knight to inform the King of his return and then ducked down the side streets to lose the crowd.

Upon arriving at the manor house he was over come with joy at the sight he beheld. Aislin came rushing out of the house and flung her arms about him. She was just as beautiful and full of life as he remembered and he could have held her forever. His son’s came out to join their mother. The little boys he remembered had grown into fine young men of seventeen.

Arnon was as tall as his father with a strong and well-defined body; short cropped current red hair, and dark blue black eyes. Arnon was a squire and his master was so pleased with him that he was willing to back Arnon’s candidacy for the Knighthood, the trials for which would begin again within the year. Haiyat was thin but strong and as tall as his brother with long violet black hair like his mother and eyes like his fathers. Haiyat had been studying magic for the past three years and was now ready to become an apprentice to the Kings Mage, Abrolun. No father had ever been prouder or happier. Solnarn was home to stay.

In the years that followed the boys gained reputations to mach their fathers. Arnon climbed through the ranks of the Knighthood, reaching the rank of Lieutenant within his first year. Haiyat amazed his master with his skill and his sharp wits becoming a forth-level apprentice within five months. The two became legends in their own time. Their heroics were made into songs and stories, their names were known throughout the land. It was during this time when they were battling side by side that Haiyat created the Dragon Eye Stones.

For three days and three nights Haiyat remained in the tower he shared with his master. When he finally came out he brought with him two small round stones one red for his brother and one blue for himself. The stones were designed to protect their masters from both physical and magical attacks. They also had the ability to execute an attack of their own, upon command from their masters they would unleash a shock wave that would parylizing all enemies within a twenty foot radius for ten minutes. Haiyat also made curtain that the stones would only respond to commands made by their true masters and no other by gifting the stones with their own intelligence, that way if the stones fell into enemy hands they would be useless. Arnon had the red stone fitted to his breastplate and Haiyat had his set into the silver band he wore about his head.

The years passed and the brothers became even more famous so that even the Minotaurs spoke their names with respect. One night, upon returning from an erand, a twenty eight-year-old Arnon returned to his chambers in the family mannor to find a letter on his bedside table. It read as follows:

My dear brother

By the time you read this I will be gone. This should come as no surprise to you since I have talked of leaving for a long time now. I have surpassed my master and my masters master they have taught me everything they know and so have nothing else to teach me. But I want to know more. I have questions that they cannot answer. I have exhausted the resources of the Grand Library in Hain Oringard as well as my own personal libraries so the only way to get my answers is to go elsewhere. I had meant to tell you this in person but my impatiens to be on my way coupled with my growing excitement got the better of me. Console your self with the fact that I wont be gone forever I’ll come home as soon as I can I promises, and know that I will be thinking of you and mother every day, I’ll write when I can. Tell mother that I love her and father with all my heart and that I will be just fine. Farewell my brother and take care.

Singed Haiyat Bonebraker Warrior Mage of Hain Oringard

Arnon was crushed, he hadn’t thought that his brother was serious about going away but there was no doubting the authenticity of the letter. Haiyat was gone and there was nothing to be done.

For a while Haiyat kept his promise, he sent a letter every week telling where he was and what he had been doing. He told about the woman he met and the friends he made and sometimes made mention of something interesting he had learned. This continued for about a year or two until the letters stopped coming all-together. The years came and went and the promised homecoming never came.

Rumors began to surface about the sudden appearance of three black towers (The Trazin Braghs) and the black Mage that had created them. The Elves of Islorieal wouldn’t go near them and so sent word to Hain Oringard for aid. In response the King sent Arnon, who was now forty-five and a Knight of highest rank, to investigate the towers, find the Mage and, if necessary, destroy him.

It took Arnon four days ride to come within sight of the towers even with the use of the Underground Highway for, because of recent scuffles with the Minotaurs, he had not dared cross the Tawz river to access the Underground that way for fear of running into interference, so he had traveled north west along Narisden forest and entered there. In the afternoon of the forth day he came in sight of his destination.

Three black square towers, in a triangle formation facing northwest, junted up on the horizon casting long shadows on the forest of Laior. The stone they were formed of was unlike any he had ever seen before. Pure black unmarred and uninterrupted my white veins or crystals, polished so that it shone like black glass and like black glass it reflected clearly all the things around it, the trees, Dragon Head lake, and the Knight on his horse. Nearing the towers Arnon dismounted, he could see the Mage standing with his back turned to him atop the large central tower. Arnon griped his sword, slid it from its sheath, placed his back against the wall of the tower, and began inching around to get a better look.

Upon rounding the corner Arnon froze where he stood, petrified with fear.

In the courtyard before the central tower stood an enormous portal of green and black mist. Arnon knew what it was, for he had heard Haiyat speak of them before, it was a portal to the far reaches of the Void, a realm in which, Haiyat had said, dwelt monsters that defied imagination. Up till then Arnon had not quite believed but know faced with the real thing there was no doubting it, especially when he happened to peer inside it. Haiyat had once told him to picture the most frightening monster he could and then make it a hundred times worse and that would be what he would see in the portal. Arnon looked for half a minute and then forced him self to look away, fearing for his sanity. If these monsters some how found a way to come through the open portal it would be the end of everything.

Arnon had two options. One, he could find some way to scale the tower, kill the Mage outright and risk leaving the portal wide open with no way to close it. Two, leap out into the courtyard and challenge the Mage to combat, brake his concentration, force him to close the portal. Considering his first option too great a risk Arnon took the second, clutching his sword, he leaped out into the courtyard

“Forget your friends and look upon me you” as the portal vanished and his eyes settled on the Mage his words stuck in his throat and he nearly dropped his sword. Thin with violet black hair and dark eyes flecked with red he could have been any Mage but their was no mistaking that perfectly round blue stone set in the silver band about his head. The Mage atop the tower was,

“Haiyat” breathed Arnon his sword now hanging limply at his side. The Mages face twisted, he leaped from the top of the tower and came lightly to the ground before Arnon.

“And who are you to me that you dare to call me familiar Knight?” asked the Mage vehemently.

“Who am I?” Arnon was dumfounded. Haiyat smiled

“Not only foolish but also def how amusing. I ask you again who are you Knight? Answer me quickly lest I shall lose my patients and forever remove you from my sight” Arnon dropped his sword and he stepped forward.

“What do you mean who am I? You must know me Haiyat. I am your brother. You must remember me” Haiyat stepped backward.

“You are mistaken Knight. I have never seen you before in my life so you are no relation of mine. Now I will give you five minutes to get your pathetic, weak, lying ass off of my land before I blast you into oblivion” Haiyat raised his right hand to emphasize the threat. Arnon couldn’t believe his own ears.

“What do you mean I’m not your brother? We were boys together we grew up together. Our mother is Lady Aislin and our father is Solnarn the Dragon Emperor. And after all these years we`re finally together again, you must remember” again the Mages face twisted

“Your time is running out Knight and your prattle is annoying me” his hand twitched.

“How can you not remember my face? My voice? If you can remember neither of those then look upon this” Arnon brushed aside a flap of his cloak to reveal the Red Dragon Eye Stone that shimmered even in the sunless day. Haiyats eyes widened he lowered his hand. For a few moments his eyes lingered on the stone, softness replaced the hard look in his eyes.

“Arnon” he breathed, “Is it really?” the Mage took a step forward, and then flung his arms about the Knight laughing joyously.

“Oh my brother please forgive me. It’s been so long since I’ve seen you that I had almost forgotten your face. Please forgive me,” the Mage stepped back then and gazed upon his brother fondly.

“There is nothing to forgive but why did you never come home?”asked Arnon. Haiyats smile fell.

“I can’t tell you how much I wanted to come back. I set out so many times but something always got in my way. And as the years passed my memories of home were pushed aside by other things and soon forgotten. I never meant to hurt you or mother you know that, but after today I’ll finally be able to come home and now that you’re here you can help me,” said Haiyat placing his hands on Arnon’s shoulders.

“I’ll do what I can but what exactly are you doing?” asked Arnon, remembering the portal.

“Oh it’s the most fascinating discovery ever made. I am one of the few Mages in history that has managed successfully to open a portal to the far reaches of the Void” Arnon cocked an eyebrow.

“And this is a good thing?”

“Good? It’s marvelous! Don’t you see? After this I’ll finally be able to come home for I will have all the knowledge I have ever wanted. You saw them didn’t you? The creatures?” Arnon nodded.

“Well I made a pact with them. If I present them with a way to access our world then they will gift me with their boundless knowledge. Isn’t that grand?” Arnon shook his head in disbelief.

“This is madness Haiyat. How can you trust these creatures? You have no proof to say that they will keep their word” Haiyat looked at him without understanding, “Think about it. Once they`re over here what’s to stop them from breaking the pact, killing you and then destroying the country, the world? Did you see the size of them? One of them, just one could tare these towers apart and use the fragments for tooth picks” Haiyat shook his head

“They will not brake the pact, they wouldn’t dare”

“They wouldn’t dare? Did you not hear what I said? You can’t possibly control them or fight them. With no force in this country that can defeat them the people will be helpless, that includes mother and me” Haiyat’s eyes flashed.

“I would never let anything happen to you or mother and you know it. I would die first”

“And you will if you go through with this” replied Arnon his own eyes flashing. There was silence and Haiyat bowed his head. After a few moments Haiyat looked up,

“If you are not with me you are against me and so my brother you must die,” the Mage calmly slid a dagger out of his sleeve. The Mages face twisted and he sprang upon his brother who dodged the attack, grabbed up his sword and spun around to face his brother. The clang of their blades echoed off the towers, sending the birds in the forest of Laior to the skies. The titanic battle continued on through the night, into the next night. Haiyats magic had blackened the land around the towers and neither brother showed signs of tiring.

While the brothers fought another unseen battle raged between the stones. They had been designed to protect their masters and to recognize each other as allies they had never been in contest before and they didn’t know how to react. Without their master’s commands they began acting on their own activating their special abilities at random. But since neither recognized the other as an enemy, their attacks twisted back upon themselves paralyzing their respective masters.

And so the battle continued on until Haiyat, fed up, decided to end it. He leaped into the air and called down a lightning spell, which Arnon was unable to doge and as he lay shivering in pain Haiyat rushed forward with his dagger raised to deliver the killing stroke. It never came. Arnon opened his eyes and he saw Haiyat standing over him, arms still raised to deliver the blow, a look of shock upon his face. Through a hole in his chest he bled profusely but no weapon Arnon possessed had made that hole for he was in too much pain to even lift his sword.

In a last attempt to protect its master the Red Dragon Eye Stone had gathered strength and released that energy in a beam that had cut through Haiyats chest like a spear. In a counter attack the blue dragon eye stone had tried to paralyze its brother and instead had paralyzed it self, like before, and that was what kept Haiyat standing. The spell wore off and Haiyat fell backward. Arnon grit his teeth, struggled through the pain and crawled to his brothers side.

“Arnon, what has? What have I? Oh Gods… I’m sorry…. I never meant to hurt…. I’m sorry” with these last words Haiyat died. When his last breath left him the Blue Dragon Eye Stone cracked. For long moments Arnon sat staring at his brother appalled at what he had done wondering how he was going to explain this to his mother.

“I can`t” Arnon picked up his brothers dagger and drove it through his own heart. The next morn King Kraius sent out a squire to discover the fate of his famed Knight, the squire sent word back that both the Knight and the Mage were dead.

The King hired Elvan stone workers and comssioned them to create a monument to the fallen Dragon Brothers on the near by shore of Dragon Head Lake. Five years later when it was completed the King returned. Atop the stone base the enormous figures of the brothers stood side by side, Arnon with his arm thrown over his brothers shoulders. Below in the base the King ordered the brothers be laid to rest and the monument still stands today.

Not long after Solnarns eldest daughter Neila, a vain and jealous creature, flew from her lair to pay a visit to the monument with the full intention of destroying it, she stopped only because she saw no sense in it, they were dead and gone and so could no longer keep her father from her. She returned to her lair to wait.

Twenty years passed and Aislin died. After her funeral Solnarn left Hain Oringard and disappeared deep into the Karzendarn mountains and was never seen again as Orin Bonebreaker” Loroedor set aside his empty bowl, took a drink from his water skin and sighed. A dead hush had fallen upon the elf’s audience. Loroedor smiled, his stories always seemed to have this kind of effect on people. It was Redtree’s youngest Knight, Korin that broke the silence.

“If that’s true and the Dragon Brothers were buried with the stones how is it that one of them came to be in the possession of these scum?” he gestured toward the marsh waters that still bubbled as its new inhabitance continued to settle into the muck.

“I my self am not too sure about that but what I do know is that about twenty no” he thought for a moment, “Fifty years later Neila, after fruitlessly searching for her father, returned to the monument, her hate for her little brothers rekindled. Again she sought to destroy it but remembering the stones she stopped her self, thinking what a shame it would be to lose something so valuable. So instead she broke into the base, took the stones and flew back to the mountains. Now I’m not quite sure what may have happened next but I reckon that on the way to her lair the red dragon eye stone slipped from her grasp and instead of going after it she let it fall and kept the blue one for her self, and it is vary likely that she still has it today. Not long after that, and this I do know, a dwarfen miner discovered the stone and gave it as a gift to his king and there it stayed until now it seems. How it ended up here is a mystery to me” Loroedor held the stone again to the fires light and watched it glow.

“And I guess we’ll never know will we?” said Redtree taking a long pull from his water skin.

“Well there is a way we could find out” Loroedor looked meaningfully at his brother who nodded.

“Well I’m glad that the two of you know what the plan is, would you mind sharing with the rest of us?” said Redtree, folding his arms over his chest.

“What my brother means is that we could journey to Barlendure and ask the dwarfs our self’s” replied Drell stirring up the dying fire. Redtree sniffed

“I hope you have a better plan then that. The dwarfs don’t open their gates to anyone now a days least of all humans and elves” Loroedor turned the stone again and smiled

“Oh believe me sir Redtree when the dwarfs set eye on this stone they’ll open the gates all right you can count on it” Redtree sighed

“Well if your sure then I guess its worth a try when do we leave?” all eyes turned to Drell.

“We leave at first light but first we will go to Tarrock and return Mina to”

“No” said Mina placing her bowl down in front of her.

“What do you mean no?” said Drell turning toward her.

“I mean exactly what I said. I shall not be returning to Tarrock I shall come with you” Drell shook his head

“No you will not. You will go right back to Tarrock and that is the last to be said about it” Drell rose to his feet. Unintimidated Mina replied

“Do you have no ears Drell? I said I’m going with you” Drell scowled

“No you shall not” Mina stood,

“Yes I shall”

“Mina you…” Drell stopped him self and gazed at his companions who were now staring at him wondering no doubt what he was so angry about. Growling Drell grabbed Mina’s arm and dragged her away from the fires light, out of hearing of the others.

“Now you listen here Mina”

“No you listen,” said Mina who was now becoming very angry, “I love you Drell not Caramon”

“I don’t care Mina. You are betrothed to Lord Steelwell so you can’t go traipsing around with another man. Especially if that other man happens to be an elf. He loves you and is worried about you. You have a duty and a promise to fulfill to him and you are going back to Tarrock. Never mind the fact that you barely know me” Mina bowed her head.

“I know Caramon loves me and that despite his bad reputation he would do anything for me. He would move mountains if he thought it would make me happy. If I were to tell him that my hart belonged to another I know that he would let me go if being with another would make me happy. He would be upset for a while of course but in time I have no doubt that if I sent him an invitation to our wedding he would gladly accept. So you see I do not need to return to Tarrock” Mina reached out to take Drells arm. He backed away and shook his head.

“You don’t understand Mina even if you did brake your engagement to Caramon a union between you and I would never work” Mina took a step forward.

“You don’t know that” Drell stepped back.

“I do know Mina and that’s the problem. I have heard the stories but I have also seen it, far too many times to believe that it could ever work. Even if it could I would still take you back to Tarrock because it is too dangerous for you to come along”

“I can fight Drell”

“Sure you can that’s why you were captured by those bandits” Mina scowled

“If I had had a sword a number of them would have died before taking me. Because my father had no sons he trained me to fight. Not the same training he would have given his son but it was good enough. I’m a good hand with a sword and even better with a bow” Drell shook his head.

“No Mina I wont allow it”

“Why not?” cried Mina, her fists clenching.

“Because I!” looking upon her face his tone softened, “Because I…. I love you damn it! I`m a fool and a hypocryt and a traitor to my self and I love you. There I said it, now are you satisfied?” Drell turned his back on her and fumed. For a brief moment Mina’s hart stopped beating not quite believing what she had just heard. Seeing how upset Drell was Mina smiled warmly and stepped forward to place her hands on his shoulders.

“I knew you did but if you love me how can you even think of sending me away?” Mina placed her head on his back. Drell sighed but did not turn around.

“Mina it is because I love you that I want you to return to Tarrock, where it is safe. My companions and I have been ambushed twice by goblins and only luck has saved us from loosing lives. If something were to happen to you I” Drell stopped talking unable to continue. Mina sighed.

“I know Drell and I feel the same way. That’s why I want to come with you so I can know for my self that you are well with out having to wait in dread for the day when I get a letter saying that you wont be coming back for me. Do you understand?” Drell turned and gazed at her fondly.

“Yes I understand. I understand that I’m fighting a loosing battle and that there is nothing I can say to change your mind” he smiled and Mina shook her head, “Alright then lets return to the others” taking her hand the two walked back to the fire.

Loroedor watched as the two returned. Watched as they swiftly let go of each other’s hands, hoping that no one had seen but Loroedor had seen, and he shook his head hoping that they both knew what they were doing.

“Well its settled lady Mina will be coming with us whether I like it or not” Drell smiled, Loroedor frowned and stood.

“In that case little brother I think I shall retire good night” without waiting for a reply Loroedor turned and retreated into his tent. One by one the knights did the same until Drell and Mina were alone by the fire. There they remained for a few precious moments enjoying each other’s company and then they too went to their tents.

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