The Easel Chronciles: The Golden Gates

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Chapter Sixteen

Many people came into Elvhelm during the next day. All came from Horowitz and Tiros. Elves, wizards and witches came to pay their respects to Lady Eleonor of Eduin. Not all those who tried to see Aravoen did. Aravoen managed to lock himself in his room.

After several attempts to see him, everyone understood he wished to be alone. He sat at the window looking out, waiting too for the day they would lay his mother to rest. He was miserable. The only thought that would come to his mind was the death of his mother. She had given her life for him. He was alive and she was dead. She was his light; she had pulled him through his wanderings, many years ago. She had advised him many times before he left Cair Sandor at a very tender age.

* * *

As the winds blew, throwing leaves off the trees, birds sang low and unhappy. Many people stood outside of the walls of Elvhelm, facing the west. In front of all of them, the body of Eleonor lay on a large stone. Her grey hair well combed to her sides, all the beauty and glory of her youth had suddenly come back to her in death.

Aravoen stood at the very front with Stareonor to his right and Mendrek to his left. He was not listening to what anyone was saying. He just stood there as still as a statue, head bowed and hair covering his face. The only thing he heard was a man saying, “Harder than most did she fight to preserve the honour of the Easel. She gave us hope with her life.”

When the time came to lay her in the sepulchre, Aravoen stepped back and let the elven men lay her down. As they were about to cover her up, Aravoen raised his hand to stop them. He picked a white rose growing near where he stood. He walked to the sepulchre and dropped the rose into the grave. It slowly drifted down until it landed squarely on her chest.

“Deri wia lemur eb ni ior horinil,” he whispered.

Many watched him looking in the grave. After a short while, Aravoen removed the three edelsteins from rund his neck. He had hidden them under his clean robe. He dropped them into the grave where his mother lay. He watched the three gems flow down into the pit and heard the soft thud as they hit Eleonor’s lifeless body.

Finally, Aravoen stood up and resumed his former position. The elves moved to put the dust over her, but the council of wizards stepped forward. Staffs in hand, they pointed the stones in their staffs at the grave. A flaming white light engulfed the grave. The council members stepped back. A white mist surrounded the grave.

As it cleared, Aravoen could see a diamond shaped tomb. It was as clear as the sky and shone in the sun. Aravoen could clearly see his mother’s face beautiful and old, looking up to the sky. The three edelsteins were round her head forming a halo. The sun next to her right ear. The moon next to her left ear and the star above her silky mane. A fitting crown of jewels for a great heroine of Elasia.

“Our gift to the Easel,” Cidarcorin said solemnly. “A lasting memory to the sacrifice she made for all of Elasia.”

As the day went on, the ceremonies closed. Aravoen avoided many eyes and walked back into the city. He pushed a few hands off his shoulder gently. As he walked through the city streets, Aravoen’s mind was blank.

He went and locked himself away from the world and suffer alone.

* * *

Leonora sat with her father, brother, generals and the wizard council. As they ate breakfast, Leonora’s mind wandered off. Aravoen had locked himself up in the room for close to five days now, taking neither food nor drink. Leonora had tried in vain to knock at the door and still it had not been opened for her.

“How long shall Lord Aravoen greave his mother?” Cidarcorin asked, holding an apple playfully in the air.

“He will come out of it,” Stareonor said, looking at Leonora. “The loss of a mother is hard.”

“Aravoen did not bother to tell anyone what happened and how she met her death,” Mendrek said thoughtfully.

“Lords and ladies of this great council,” Stareonor said, “you should have seen the way that he returned here. He was washed all over with blood and she was there in his arms, lifeless. There was something in his eyes, something hard and veiled. He spoke only once. He walked in and laid her body on a table. That was the last we saw of him until he came out for the burial.”

“Father,” Leo said, “he reminds me of someone.”

“I know who you mean.”

“Me, Father,” Leonora sheepishly said. “Me.”

“Yes.”

“But this man drowns himself in sorrow,” Corical the brown raved, “whilst Elasia wallows on the brink of destruction. The ancient barrier needs to be restored and we all know only one of the line of samhain has that power. Novorgord prepares for war; soon all the lands of the north will be ravaged; Earose is on the brink of destruction as we speak.”

Leonora could not take it anymore; she stood up leaving everyone in awe as she glided out of the hall. Her eyes were set and ablaze with unseen fury and determination. She walked in the direction of Aravoen’s rooms.

“I wonder what mischief the lady is going to provoke this time?” Cidarcorin mused aloud.

“Don’t we all, don’t we all.” Stareonor looked at the closed door wondering what his daughter was going to do.

* * *

Aravoen sat at the window looking out over the plains. It was the sixth day he was doing this, oblivious to the world. He had neither eaten nor drunk in the past days. He only slept and woke always from the same dream of the two women. It angered him that he could not understand the dream.

For five days now, he would wake from the same dream and sit at the window until he felt it was time to freshen up. His appearance had changed. His eyes blue and haggard, his hair had grown longer and his beard fuller. A few lines had come to his face, lines of constant frustration.

Today he had dosed his face in cool water early and settled himself by the window. He knew no one could see him as he sat there.

Out of the blue, a strong angry presence besieged his mind. It was stronger and more forceful than any that had come to his mind.

You better let me into that forsaken sanctuary of a room, Leonora barked, or may the stars help you, I will break down the door, you know I can.

Just let me be, Leonora, Aravoen weakly said. I will not bother anyone so none should bother me.

Too bad, Aravoen, Leonora snapped, pressing his mind with more force. I am not anyone.

I will do…

No such thing, my foot; open the door now!

Aravoen jumped off the window. Half of him wanted to open the door, the other half was afraid of the anger he would collide with. Taking a deep breath, Aravoen opened the door and met the warm yet angry eyes of Leonora.

“That is an improvement,” she said.

“What do you want, Leonora?” Aravoen asked, stepping aside for her to enter. He walked back to the window and set himself down again. Leonora walked in and looked around the room. She noticed his sword unsheathed on the floor. She waited and still he did not speak. She was hurt. Aravoen saw it in her eyes; the pain of being ignored and pushed away.

“When you wish to talk you know where to find me,” Leonora said angrily. She stormed out of the room. This brought Aravoen back to Earth. He wondered why Leonora had sought him out of his seclusion. She had forcefully pulled him out when none had bothered to try. The least he could do was be polite to her.

Aravoen walked out of his room. He did not know where her rooms were. He saw an elven lady walking in the opposite direction. He stopped her and asked her for directions. A look of shock crossed her face. Aravoen knew he looked really bad, but it could not have been that bad.

Shocked as she was, she directed him to her rooms. When Aravoen reached the door covered with flowers, he knocked at the door slightly, and it opened a bit.

Aravoen heard the crushing of glass inside. He stepped in, and there sat Leonora on the ground with a broken glass in her hand, blood trickling out of the cut in her hand. She looked up at him. Aravoen saw the anger in her eyes as she saw him.

He took the first step and touched his heart and spoke. “From the deepest part of my heart, I apologise for my rudeness and ask your forgiveness.”

“You have it,” she said after a time, though he could still sense her anger. It was going to take some time for her to fully mean those words. Aravoen knew this. She got up and dipped her hand in a clear liquid at the window. Aravoen looked around the room as she did this. It was light and well aired. The room had a small desk much similar to his in a corner with many disorganised papers. Leonora sat at the window and waited patiently. Aravoen strode over to the window and sat next to Leonora. They both gazed out, each in a different place. Aravoen did not know how to start, but he had to. He would tell her because he needed to talk and she was the only person he felt he could talk to.

After what seemed like eternity, Aravoen began the tale all the way from Elvhelm to Horowitz to the pillars and finally the battle with the demons. There he paused and began to cry.

When he stopped shedding tears, he found himself held by Leonora; he did not know when he had ended up in her embrace. Slowly he told the rest of the story of how his mother had died and how he had lived. Leonora held him closer to her breast like a mother would a hurt child.

Aravoen felt better after telling the tale. Releasing himself a short way from Leonora, Aravoen looked into her eyes and saw love, warmth and care. He noticed her green eyes now shining at him.

“Thank you,” he said.

“That should teach you,” Leonora snapped at him.

“Whatever did I do, My Lady?”

“When you are in pain,” Leonora said, “do not push those of us that care and love you away.” She looked at him, embarrassed at her revelation; she looked at him, afraid of his rejection. She tilted her head slightly, and let a few strands of hair come into her eyes. She looked up to see Aravoen looking up at her. Aravoen’s eyes were warm with love and care towards her.

It then hit him Leonora’s eyes were green and his mother’s were blue. They were the ladies in his dreams. His mother had guided him to Leonora, placing her in the place she had been.

Aravoen pulled Leonora to him and embraced her differently. Without knowing it or seeing it happening, Aravoen kissed her. Leonora neither pushed him away nor rejected his kiss. She responded to him. First timidly but sloly turning it into trust and faith. After what seemed like a thousand warm summer days, their mouths separated. Leonora looked at him without rejection or hate, but with love and warmth. She kissed him again, with love.

* * *

When Aravoen next woke, he was in a bed with warm and silky sheets all tangled around him. He tried to move, but found he was holding someone. He opened his eyes. His heart gave a stop; Leonora lay in his hands sleeping peacefully. He remembered what had happened.

She looked beautiful asleep, her mouth partly open and hair all over the bed. Aravoen was still in his robes and she in her dress. He had never felt that way for anyone before.

Suddenly, her eyes opened and a smile broke upon her face. She looked at him long and warmly. Aravoen opened his mouth to say something, but Leonora put her finger to his mouth. She instead kissed him and smiled.

“My heart was won by you in those caves, My Lord,” she said. “It will always be yours, Aravoen.”

“And mine yours.”

She got up, off the bed. She turned to Aravoen and smiled. “You must be hungry, come on. Lunch will not have gone far.”

“I am not that hungry...” Aravoen began.

“You forget you turned down everything that was sent to you.”

“How would you know that?”

“Please,” Leonora rolled her eyes at him. Something he had never seen her do. She was a lady deep down Aravoen thought. “I sent the poor ladies grumbling up all the time knowing you would turn it down.” Leonora added. They laughed together. It was long since Aravoen had laughed and he felt happy now. Together they left Leonora’s room and everyone who saw them saw the difference in them.

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