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Connor looked at Brian, his mouth hanging open, eyes blinking.

Brian smiled, nodded, and continued, “I didn’t think so. I wasn’t there when you first spoke, but by the time I arrived, she was nearly pinching herself to see if it was all real. Now, then...yes, elves are real. They are very real, and very powerful. Four races of elves exist, to my knowledge.

“One is the everyday elf, and no, I don’t know the true name they call themselves. This race of elves is usually associated with leprechauns and Santa’s elves. They’re very short, about the same height as dwarves, and prefer to be left alone. They generally dwell in very sparsely human-populated areas. And before you ask, no, they do not have pointed ears. That is a part of the human myth associated with them.”

“But, what does all of this have to do with Madelyn?” Connor asked.

“Patience, my boy,” Brian replied, smiling softly. Though he understood Connor’s need to know more about this mysterious young woman he was now mated to, he was going to explain things as fully as possible before he gave them any more information about Madelyn herself. “You’ll know all I know in a few minutes,” he said as he rose and went to the kitchen to refill his mug.

“The second race of elves that I know of is the Darkling elves.” He paused while returning to his seat and took a sip of the hot coffee. Putting his mug down on the side table, he continued, “Darkling elves are dangerous. They pursue the Dark Arts, using Dark magic proficiently, even their young use Dark magic instinctively well.”

“Do ‘everyday elves’ use magic also?” Ulric asked his friend.

“Oh, yes, they most certainly do: an innocent, playful kind of magic,” Brian replied. “Why do you think the legends about leprechauns and Santa’s elves got the reputation they did? You see, that race of elves is fun-loving and while they prefer to keep to themselves, they love to play, and they adore human children: the innocence and merry nature of the human child appeals to them.

“The legend of Santa Claus is based on these little creatures. You see, they saw children suffering a few hundred years ago. The little ones had few things to occupy their time, other than chores. The elves in Holland were the first to fill the children’s wooden shoes with goodies. They’d give them nuts and dried fruit, and little toys they’d make throughout the year. That is where the legend of Santa Claus came from. The elves exist, and they did make the toys, but the man at the center of the legend is pure legend, conjured up by adults who wanted to put all of this on a human man who would end up being the benefactor of all little children everywhere around the holidays.”

The other two men shook their heads in wonder over this bit of information. It made sense that the humans would want it to be one of their own who got credit for the phenomenon, but it saddened them to think another creature was relegated to such a less important role than it truly played in the phenomenon.

“And the third race of elves?” Ulric asked.

“The third race is one of light,” Brian replied. “They are the keepers of grey magik. The Grauguri, as they prefer to be called, neither work for good, nor for anything else. They keep to themselves, mostly, and only interest themselves with happenings among the other species when absolutely necessary.” He paused and glanced toward the stairs. Sighing, he looked at Connor. “I believe that may be the situation in Madelyn’s case,” he paused, glancing toward the floor before continuing. “But we will discuss that more soon enough.”

At that moment, they all heard a sound and turned to find Madelyn standing at the bottom of the stairs. Shocked that they hadn’t heard her come down the stairs, Connor rose and went to her, hugging and kissing her tenderly before bringing her to sit with them.

She looked uncertain and confused as she cuddled tight to Connor’s side.

“Brian, what do you mean when you say in my case?” Madelyn asked in a soft voice as Connor pulled a blanket onto her lap before wrapping his arm round her shoulders.

“Maddy,” Brian began, “you are a very special being. You are a combination of species that nobody would have thought might occur, mainly because we all stay to ourselves for the most part.” He smiled gently at her when her brow furrowed, clearly disbelieving what she’d just heard. “I was nearly finished with some explanations. How much did you hear as you were standing there?”

“You were speaking of the legend of Santa Claus and how it’s the elves that are truly to thank for the custom, not the human,” she replied. “I heard everything about that, and the Grauguri elves.”

Nodding, he quickly explained how humans and Garou weren’t the only sentient species on Earth. She sat listening, stunned by this new information.

“This brings us to the fourth race of elves,” Brian said, looking at Madelyn as he continued. “They are the White Elves: your grandfather’s people.”

“My grandfather’s people?” she paused a moment. “Elves?” she looked at Brian incredulously. “How can that be? parents...” she stopped, tears coming to her eyes as she realized her whole life had been a lie, either told to her by her parents, or by others who came before her parents.

Brian smiled gently in understanding. She hadn’t been present when he’d informed the rest of her father’s ancestry. Calmly, he related the information of her paternal ancestors. She stared at him, not knowing what to make of this, even though it did make sense in a way. Her father had gone through his life feeling like something was missing. That is what led him to become an adventurer after he left the service.

“But,” she said after thinking a moment, “if my father’s heritage comes from the Garou, does that mean that my mother, Marie, was White Elf?”

“No, she wasn’t,” Brian replied, Madelyn looking at him confused. “Marie was not your mother. She adopted you when you were barely a week old.”

“What?!?” Madelyn shook her head. “No...” Tears began running down her cheeks. “No! It can’t be! She was my mother!”

Brian rose and went to fetch some documents from his briefcase. Handing her two of them, he returned to his seat and let her look them over. She sat in Connor’s lap – he’d pulled her there when she started crying, the need to protect and comfort her strong - staring at the two, her face wet with tears. Shaking, she handed the documents back to Brian before cuddling into Connor, who held her tight, stroking her golden curls gently.

“Why did they lie to me?” Madelyn finally asked Brian.

“I don’t think they meant to lie to you, Maddy,” Brian said soothingly. “All of the information I can see indicates your mother died when you were born. She was in labor. You were born healthy and safe but she ran into complications with your twin brother.”

“A brother? I would have had a brother?” Madelyn shook her head. This was very overwhelming. The suggestion of her being a twin almost made sense, though; she’d always felt like part of her was missing. Maddy took a deep breath, looked at Brian, at Connor, and then rose from the couch, leaving the room with tears slipping silently down her cheeks.

She slipped outside, stripped, and shifted into her wolf form before taking off at a full run into the woods. After a moment, she howled; the sound was mournful as she loped through the woods. It was all too much for her to take and she needed a bit of time alone.

Meanwhile, Connor watched her through the window as she disappeared into the trees. His heart was heavy for her, but he knew the run alone would do her good. Returning to the couch, he resolved to go searching for her if she hadn’t returned after a while.

“Brian,” Ulric began. “If you knew this all along, why didn’t you tell her? At least you could have told her about her biological mother and her brother; especially after her father and adopted mother died.”

Brian sat silently, clearly thinking carefully over what he was going to say in response to Ulric’s query. The mournful howls in the distance resonated in his head. He might not have been the reason for her pain, but ultimately, he knew he had not helped her much at all by delaying telling her for so long. That they’d never told her hurt her deeply, he knew. That he could continue on, keeping her in the dark as to who and what she was, he was certain she’d feel very betrayed and untrusting for a while.

“I was clearly wrong not to tell her,” Brian finally said. “In my defense, though, I was trying to learn more about the whole situation.”

“What more did you learn?” Connor asked.

As Brian related the additional information he’d learned, the other two men sat in wonder, not sure whether they believed it all.

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