Aravoen did not find it hard to reach Leonora’s rooms. He had the tube in his hands as he knocked on the door. He knew he had to get to the bottom of the whole tube and clear up the a thousand and one questions he had.
“Seriously...” Leonora stopped mid sentence on seeing Aravoen at her door. Aravoen noticed her dishellved appearance. Her long hair fell in disorganised waves round her face. “What is the problem Araveon?”
“I need your help.”
“Come in then,” Leonora stepped aside to let Aravoen in.
Araveon watched Leonora close her door and open the curtains to let the moonlight in. It sent a bright grey light through the whole room. Leonora pulled him towards the window where the cold night breeze touched their skins.
“So what is it?” Leonora gently poked Aravoen’s side.
Aravoen let her see the tube. “This.”
“Riya gave it to you,” Leonora said.
“I know that,” Aravoen was not going to give her the chance to avoid the questions everyone was avoiding. “She told me, you could help me. Do not think of avoiding it. I want to know the whole truth.”
“What truth Aravoen?”
“See,” Aravoen laughed. “You are doing it again.”
“I am doing nothing Aravoen,” she snapped
“Then tell me the truth.” Aravoen did not want to argue. “I told you about the thinning power of the barrier. You paniced. Same thing happened to your father.”
“No I did...”
“Spare me that whole story,” Aravoen’s temper was rising. “Just tell me, please.”
“Tell you what?”
“You want me to stop asking you what you want,” Leonora matched Aravoen’s temper, “then tell me what you want to know.”
“The whole truth, Leonora.”
“What damn truth Araveon?” Leonora’s voice was low and furious. “You can not just come to my room, as I am sleeping if I might add, and begin making demands.”
“I am not making any demands,” Aravoen argued. “Leonora, you should tell me the truth unlike your people.”
“My people,” Leonora retorted, “You are getting to my last nerve Aravoen.”
“And I am sorry,” Aravoen really did not want to annoy Leonora. “But what is it that frightens the elves, wizards and yourself about that barrier.”
“Long story Aravoen,” her temper was slowly ebbing away.
“I failed to sleep,” Aravoen said.
“It is not a bed-time story.”
“Alright,” Aravoen wanted to avoid arguing. “Then let us start with the good old package of Riya.”
“Fine,” Leonora held out her hand. “Give it.”
“You do not have to take it out on me.”
“Sure I will not Aravoen.”
Aravoen handed Leonora the tube and watched her open it. She slowly pressed the sides before turning the bottom of the tube counter clockwise. A soft click came from the tube. Leonora pulled the tube apart, revealing an embroided parchment. Leonora gasped.
“It seems I have no choice now.”
“Speak plainly Leonora.”
“However much we did not want to tell you,” Leonora whispered. “Do not get me wrong. We are just protecting you.”
“From a darker side of destiny.”
“I am not a little youngling Leonora,” Aravoen said. “I can handle myself and I will make the right choice.”
“That is what everyone fears.”
“Do you trust me Aravoen?”
“With my life.” Aravoen replied.
“Then promise me,” Leonora grabbed his hands, folding the parchment between their palms. “You will not judge our selfish intentions for keeping this away from you.”
“I can’t promise you I won’t,” Aravoen said. He saw her hesitation and forgot all his anger a short while back. He squeezed her hands. “But I can promise my heart will not move from you.”
“So what is the problem with this parchment and the barrier.”
“Have you ever heard of the tears of Vilvalard?”
“Before I tell you this,” Leonora looked Aravoen straight in the eye. “Understand the dangers it poses not only to you but to Elasia.
“I will try,” Aravoen said.
“Long ago, before the demons were awakened,” Leonora begun the tale. Aravoen could see the sparkle in her green eyes. “Before the high elves expanded their domain over the whole of Elasia, a prince from the isles of Tir-na-Mithras came with a gift from the stars. The seedlings of Alanus-de-Insulis. The best hidden secret of Loscennlonn seeing as your mother did not tell you about it.”
“And what does any of that have to do with this parchment or the barrier.”
“Everything Aravoen, everything.” Leonora spread her hands out. “That tree gives life to most of all we know. It was the first to be planted here. As the lord of the high elves, Cassiniar gave one of the seedlings to his youngest son, Elurin who was to bring it to Elasia.”
“”Did he come then?”
“Yes, and he was the first to settle in Loscennlonn. But the problem was that as he planted the seedlings, a great crime was commited. One that will forever taint the barriers of our races.”
“How so? I do not understand.”
“As Elurin planted the seedlings,” Leonora said, “he was killed by a different kind of evil. Evil from within. His sister Solair, gave in to the darkness that is in every high elf. Elurin tried to protect the seedlings but he failed. The great tree of life is tainted with the dark blood of Solair and that of Elurin.”
“I am still lost Leonora.”
“If you keep quiet and not interrupt me,” Leonora snapped. “I would get to the whole point.”
“Elurin’s blood and Solair’s mingled with the soil that covered the tree’s seedlings.” Leonora went on. “It was said that because of that blood the balance of good and evil would never be.”
“I know you are confused but the story only starts there. Solair’s evil intentions tainted her blood and she killed her brother reciting the dark words to draw out the darkness in Elurin as he died. She sealed the dark magic with her own blood. It is said that the blood caused a lot of barriers in the high elven circles because Solair was to succeed to the throne. Many said her crime of tainting the new tree in Elasia was not good for them, so they passed the throne to her son Pharian banishing her in the process. The most critical part of the story is on that parchment.”
Aravoen had been mesmerized by this ancient tale. His mind was racing to try and draw connections to this new knowledge. He knew about the connections of blood and earth. He knew the troubles it caused if used for dark magic. It could be very catastrophic.
“Aravoen,” Leonora said, waving her hands in Aravoen’s face. “The parchment...”
“What about it?”
Aravoen looked at the slightly crumpled parchment. It reeked of age. He unrolled it and looked at the slim and ancient runes on it. He could read them clearly.
“Go on,” Leonora uttered. “Read it and ask me what does not make sense.”
“How about...you tell me the story since you know it.”
“I do but that parchment tells it better.”
“Aravoen,” Leonora snapped.
“I prefer to hear it from you,” Aravoen said seriously.
“Bring the damn parchment,” Leonora said.
Aravoen handed Leonora the parchment. He could tell that she was not exactly happy about his behaviour. “Leonora it is not that I want to anger you, but I prefer hearing you tell the story.”
“Silence Aravoen,” Leonora snarled.
“My lady,” Aravoen was taken aback.
“Just let me read,” she snapped.
Aravoen held his tongue. He knew he deserved her horrid temper. After all, he had been difficult on her. He hated it and was sorry he had angered her.
“The curse of Alanus-de-Insulis was set upon the lands of Loscennlonn by Solair, the darkest of white elves. She alone will have the power to restore the true glory of the tree.” Leonora’s voice was hypnotic. “When the time of evil draws near, the protection of Guardes Wesseleren against the powers of anything as dark as me, shall wane. That evil will cross the lands and destroy the light in the tree.”
Leonora ignored him. “But there will be one who can right power of the barrier restoring the balance of the tree. The one shall be more powerful than any of the high elves and shall taste death. The mirror of ages shall answer to the wielder of peace in no way it will ever answer to others. But the choice shall be down to paths. One of darkness, one of light and all leading to greatness. The blade that was lost shall answer to the wielder of peace and the ancients hidden in plain sight shall call the one their leader.”
“And what of these tears?”
“The tears of Vilvalard were the tears of a mother for the loss of both her children,” Leonora said. “One to complete and utter darkness and the other to the spirit world. Her tears were said to have landed on the ground not far from the forest that guards these lands.”
“Her tears marked the start of the barrier.” Aravoen concluded.
“Yes,” Leonora said. “Once the sorrowful mother dries her tears so will the the wanning of the barrier commence bringing in force the daughters dark words.”
“So the wanning of the barrier is because the high elven queen’s tears dry up in the soil beyond the ancient trees,” Aravoen said thoughtfully, “The power of the barrier against evil creatures and beings fades.”
“Leonora, does it say who the one will be?” Aravoen said after some thought.
“It mentions one clue and it will explain everyone’s reaction.”
“What is it?”
“The blood of the high elves shall be mingled in the blood of the one.”
“So it could be you or any elf why would that be reason to keep it from me?” Aravoen was in disbelief.”
“Aravoen, before you make me lose my head and temper,” Leonora lowered her voice, “think about it. Properly.”
“What makes you all act like I do not need to know that part?”
“You have a small bit of that blood in you.” Leonora snapped. “You remember insisting that you were half-elven in Cair Sandor and the rest of those places.”
“I know that,” Aravoen explained. “But, you are fully elves compared to me and my race.”
“Have you not been listening?” Leonora’s patience was wearing thin. “I might love you Aravoen but your questions make anyone grow years older.”
“Let me put it in a better way,” Aravoen said. “Why does it scare you to have told me this as soon as I mentioned the barrier?”
“Because, Aravoen,” Leonora said calmly. “Everyone fears you are the one. And to some very rigid elves that is not good. They cannot have one with tainted blood in them to be far more powerful.”
“So you are all afraid I will turn out to be the one to restore balance to the tree’s aura.” Aravoen said.
“I hate to say yes,” Leonora eyed him oddly, “but yes, your blood will force you to see it.”
“I will do nothing of the sort Leonora.”
“Only time will tell.”
“But what of my choices?”
“We all know your choices,” Leonora laughed. “Save Elasia and the Easel.”
“Ye,” Aravoen said.
“A score ior ladiri.”
“Then that means the one will be an elf.” Aravoen finished.
“But just in case it turns out to be you,” Leonora turned serious. “Make the right choice, even if it leads you on a dark path. Promise me.”
“I promise,” Aravoen was only making her happy. “But I know it is not me.”
“I know you are saying that to make me happy.”
“No I am not,” Aravoen lied. “I will not have another weight added to my ever weaker shoulders.”
“Fine Aravoen.” Leonora wanted to end the topic.
“Burn it.” Aravoen said after a while. Seeing her raised eyebrow, Aravoen pointed to the parchment. “Burn it.”
Leonora hesitated but did as he had asked in the end. A long tense silence cloaked them as they sat at the window. Aravoen wondered why they all feared telling him the truth. So what if he was feared to be this all powerful ‘one’. He was the prince of Eduin and heir of Eldon not some all powerful high elf. He would take up the thrones of the Easel and that was it.
“You should go get some sleep.” Leonora said suddenly.
“I guess I should.”
“I hope you do sleep Aravoen.”
“I will,” Aravoen smiled.
“Before you go,” Leonora’s voice was abruptly strained. “I am sorry I tried s hard not tell you. I am sorry I almost lost my temper with you.”
“I understand why you feared telling me,” Aravoen lied.
“I know you did not,” Leonora smiled at him. “I know you did not, but you will in time Aravoen. I trust you will.”
“It is useless to try and lie to you.”
“Remember that ior aemoed.”
“A wia ior sadiri,” Aravoen smiled at Leonora.
“Now go,” Leonora said with a wide smile. “I need my sleep and so do you.”
“I could sleep here Leonora.”
“Not today my king,” Leonora moved towards Aravoen. Aravoen could not avoid noticing her raw beauty.
Aravoen smiled at her, dazzled by the way the bright moonlight played with her striking face. Sure they had a lot of differences, but Aravoen knew Leonora was destined to be his queen and love forever.
Aravoen responded to Leonora like he had never responded to any lady. He kissed her, forgetting that in one day he would be travelling out of the sacred lands. Forgetting that her people feared that he was the one to bring balance to the aura of the tree of life.
Leonora withdrew after what seemed like perpetuity, much to Aravoen’s shock. “Go ior ladiri, before I am too weak to refuse.”
“I will see you tomorrow.” Aravoen said understanding. His heart belonged to this timeless creature of Elvhelm.
“A aemoed deri.” Leonora turned from him too quickly for him to reach out to her.”
He left her room with a lot on his mind. The elves fear of him. He was no great power hungry war lord like Sarzgat. He sought peace for the whole of Elasia.
It did not take Aravoen long to find his center as he dozed off. Leonora’s smile centered his confused thoughts about everything he had just learnt.
* * *
As the sun broke through the sky, its radiant rays swimming in the air above, Aravoen awoke. There was a lot to do. He spent the day preparing for the journey.
When the day closed and he was alone in his room, thinking, Aravoen was ripe with fear. Fear for all. He gave away so much hope but kept none for himself. Aravoen needed hope for this moment. He needed someone to give it to him.
But a small touch around his shoulders, a touch so tender and loving made him forget his fears. He turned to Leonora who held him close.
“Do not think about anything Aravoen this night.” Leonora said.
“I try not to,” Aravoen covered his face in his hands. “But after what you told me I keep thinking of why...”
“Hush Aravoen,” Leonora soothed him. “It will sort itself out just like everything else does. Go to Earose and do what you can. Do not think about the past.” Aravoen nodded. Leonora held Aravoen in silence. Aravoen wished it could stay that way forever. “Sleep Aravoen,” Leonora’s voice encouraged. Together they slept the night away from the rest of Elasia.