The green fields of Cair Sandor are ever peaceful at this time. The soft Zephyr swept through, making the green spears dance. The blazing sun highlighted the fading and ruined wall of the once great city of Cair Sandor.
Once there had been seven great cities in the north western Kingdom of Eduin: Cair Eandor, Cair Illari, Cair Andir, Cair Landalin, Cair Anduri, Cair Islanod and Cair Sandor. That had been in the times of the kings, but now only Cair Sandor stood. It had become the home of the hidden princes that continued the line of the kings.
Lady Eleonor stood facing south in the direction of the caves of Sidra. Her once black hair was full of streaks of grey. This had become her daily ritual for the past ninety-three years. Her son Aravoen had left then to look for glory.
Slowly her thoughts turned to her dead husband, Amroth. He had died so young and entrusted her with the most precious jewel of Eduin: the Star Edelstein. He had told her to pass it on to Aravoen when the time was right. Deep in her thoughts, she did not notice her hand slowly move to the gem held around her neck by a thin silver filament. With a sigh, she turned around and walked towards the city, giving up hope of her son that day. As she passed the ruined arch, she remembered that she had to meet the Eluncil of Eduin.
She followed the path and turned off in the direction of the royal chambers. Still, her mind was disturbed. Almost ninety-three years ago, her son, Aravoen, had left, just like his father, in search of honour and glory, the same reason his father used, and he returned a great Lord of Eduin. Now she feared that her son was dead. A strong firm grip on her shoulder brought her out of her thoughts. She turned around, ready to breathe fire at this insolent, rude person. However, her eyes met calm, resilient, hazel eyes.
“A schori andic deri hamandord,” the owner of the eyes soothed.
“Mendrek,” Eleonor raved, “you do not know how disturbed I am.”
“Atei,” he persisted.
He gently led her on to her chambers where he left her to relax. In the whole city, this was the only place that she felt safe, free from the eyes and ears of the Eluncil. Her chamber was soft; a large bed that was once occupied by her and Amroth stood in the middle of the room, Hangings of soft velvet covered the window, and a small writing table with quills and paper stood opposite the window with a blown out candle.
She made her way to the bed and lay there for some time between sleep and reality. A light tap at the door and a clear ringing voice brought her fully down to Earth.
“The Eluncil awaits you, My Lady,” it announced. She slowly got up and walked to the door, opening it. Before her stood a tall, sinewy young man. ‘Softfoot’ - that is what everyone called him. He was the Eluncil messenger. “If you will follow me, My Lady,” he whispered. Her cool blue eyes rested on his large brown eyes and this made him unsettled.
“A schori le yat,” she said to him, suddenly brushing past him and heading in the direction of tree hall. In the centre of the city stood the foot of a great tree. The enormous buttress roots formed archways, and in each archway stood a door of weeds which separated as a person approached. This was one of the few remaining works of the high elves in Elasia.
The interior of the hall was such that a great round table and small throne like seats around the table were all joined by a single cord of hard weed. A few metres away from the table, on a small pedestal, two thrones stood: one for the king, the other for the queen. Today all the seats at the table were full. Eleonor took her place on one of the thrones.
“Now, I believe we can call this session to order,” said a soft-spoken, ageing, but muscular man. His short grey hair highlighted his well-structured face with a hooknose. His overlapping red robes did not match his pale complexion. “Now, My Lady, you must wonder why I called this meeting.”
“I still wonder Sedranor,” Eleonor said with a hint of annoyance in her voice.
“My Lady,” said another old man, “calm yourself. We are friends to you and your house.” His strong voice was that of a general. His face was calm and friendly.
“As I was saying,” Sedranor went on, “the people are losing faith. It has been years since our Lord Aravoen left. People are talking; they are scared.”
“What are you saying?” Eleonor cut him short.
“What Sedranor is saying,” a soft-spoken, bald-headed, but beautiful woman in a sea-blue dress interjected, “is that when you die, someone has to take up the throne. And we have a suggestion. Maybe…” She held back because of the piercing look that Eleonor gave her.
“I should become lord when you join our glorious ancestors,” Sedranor finished for her with a smile on his face.
“You support this all of you?” Eleonor inquired, looking from one member to the other to be certain. “Even you Rithin?” she asked, with a bit of betrayal in her tone. Not all the council members could look at her.
“Atei,” said a voice in the shadow. Eleonor looked searchingly into the shadows of the archways. Mendrek came out holding his long wizard’s staff before him. With a wave of his hand, he conjured up a small stool beside Eleonor and sat there. He looked at the council members before he spoke again.
“What you seek to do is unwise,” he said curtly.
“You do not tell us what to do wizard,” spat a greying woman
“Menandra,” Rithin cautioned, “you do not speak to a wizard like that. Maybe he has a point,”
“Oh, Rithin,” said an old man in a midnight-black tunic. “Let us not forget that you were against this idea of Sedranor succeeding Eleonor.”
“Lady Eleonor,” Eleonor, who had been seated in silence, snapped. “Do not forget who you talk about. I am your queen and do not forget that. You dare not,” she added, getting up and walking towards the table. “And as for this matter, my answer is no. Straight forward and simple no!” She banged her small fist on the table.
“You are in no such position to oppose our decision, My Lady,” said another man who was part of the council.
“I believe that she is,” said a woman with long, curly, sandy-brown hair. “And I too, like Rithin, do not support this idea. It is outrageous and inappropriate.”
“Akasha,” said Sedranor, waving his hand to silence the argument. “It is only you, Rithin and Teymr who argued against it.”
“And rightly so,” Eleonor said through clenched teeth, still seething with anger. “How can you? All of you? You swore to my late husband that you would only preserve the line of Eduin. And now you break that oath.”
“Mendrek himself sits silent,” said Sedranor. “If even he is not questioning our decision, who are you to?” he asked venomously, looking her straight in the eye.
“My silence is not consent!” an outraged Mendrek said, standing to his full height. “You do not dare use it for your selfish plans. Ever!” he added, scaring all who were standing to sit apart from Eleonor.
“The lordship of Eduin,” Eleonor began, “is for the line of Amleth son of Eldon, who in turn is the founder of this line. Only a member of that line may take that right. He or she is not made, but is born to it and I believe you are not that person.”
“And the lines of Ebrithia and Elliyon who head them now?” asked Menandra. “Are they not ruled by men who are not members of this cursed line from Ebillon?”
“You dare slander the great house of our kingdom,” Eleonor began, the anger in her rising at a terrific speed.
“If I am to correct you, My Queen,” the man in midnight-black said, “is not the line hidden? You forget it is the hidden prince now, not king.”
“And yet you seek to sit on this throne Sedranor?” Eleonor sputtered.
“To preserve the years of tradition that has made us stand apart from Elliiyon and Ebrithia.” Sedranor said.
“We do not need to waste time here madam,” Raspian said aloud.
“I know, but unlike you Raspian, and the rest of you, I have hope,” she replied
“Have your hope then,” Sedranor said. “Our minds are made up.”
Eleonor went over to her chair and sat next to Mendrek. He held her hands and gave her a reassuring squeeze.
Slowly her mind wandered back to that fateful day: the day Aravoen had left Eduin. His coal-black hair, which was short, and his rosy cheeks: still a figure of youth. He was tall and sinewy for his age. A true replica of Amroth, but some ancient people said he looked like their great ancestor Eldon the last and surviving prince of the drowned empire of Ebillon.
How she wished to see him now. To see the man he had become after all these years. She was sure that he was still in his youth, thanks to the blessings of old given to them by the high elves. Their race was blessed with longevity, which was dwindling now. She remembered his last words to her.
“Indor sedir sorer,” she said aloud, without meaning to. However, she went on, “A wia denimar, A esidim.” She fell silent and tears began rolling down her cheeks as she silently sobbed. Suddenly she looked up and stared at the council members, a mixture of anger, sadness and hope in her eyes. “Sedir,” she said, her voice close to a whisper. “Fe deri indor notil a indor sedir un a wia gerfi do le eiolito.” The way she said these words left the Eluncil speechless. Silence enveloped the room.
“Stop.” They heard the guards outside the hall shout. They heard a small scuffle before the door flew open and in galloped a hooded rider.
Rithin was the first to react, drawing his broad sword from its sheath. “Halt, do not come closer.”
“Put the sword away, Rithin,” the hooded rider said. He led his horse towards the throne where Eleonor was seated, ignoring everyone else inside the hall. As if to counter the rider, Eleonor stood up and walked towards the rider, head held high and eyes still shinning with tears.
“Sorer imbil ci,” he said, getting off the horse. He knelt and caught her eyes, “Sorer.” Eleonor could not believe her ears. Slowly, she removed the hood from the stranger’s head, and it was as if her own blue eyes were staring back at her. His beard was full, his hair long, his once carefree and reckless eyes weary, calm, watchful and tired.
“Ior edel,” she said, getting down on her knees and pulling her son into a tight motherly embrace. “Ior Aravoen,” she said through her sobs of sadness. “Deri indor imiail.”
The Eluncil was shocked.