The news of Aravoen’s return spread through the city like a wildfire. Soon people were coming to the royal chambers to have a glimpse of their lord. How the once quiet city of Cair Sandor had become lively with riders coming in from all corners of the earth.
Aravoen sat in his chambers, looking at the once familiar things: his warm bed, the linen sheets, the parchment, and his tube. He had fond memories of that tube. His father had given it to him the night before he left. Amroth had told him that it would make all his fears, problems and anger go away and indeed, it had done so following the next months before a young Aravoen learnt of his father’s death and left for Elvhelm.
He held the thin, hollow musical tube in his hands, lifted it to his lips and played a soft tune, imagining a beautiful spring day. The rain puttering the ground gently and making his light clothes wet. At last all the hardships he had gone through were far away from him in another land. He played on, savouring every moment of peace that it brought.
A light tap on his back brought him back to Earth. He turned around and saw his mother and Mendrek looking at him with joy in their eyes.
“Nice to see you still know how to play that tube,” his mother said.
“Those are things that are just embedded in you, even after learning to play it close to century ago.”
“There is a celebration later on and you must come to your people,” Eleonor said.
“Yes.” Aravoen sighed.
“But more seriously, Aravoen,” Mendrek said in a serious tone, “we have to talk, all three of us.”
“Can’t we talk now?”
“No.” It was his mother who spoke. “The Eluncil has ears everywhere.”
“You do not trust them anymore?” Aravoen was flustered.
“I will tell you at the celebration,” Mendrek asserted.
* * *
The entire city was alive with celebration. Those that had lost hope had renewed faith; those that had heard rumours now discarded them. How happy everyone seemed. Even the night had decided to celebrate with the people of Eduin. The vibrant stars bathed the cloudless sky with bright light.
The moon, though half full, cast shadows that were visible in the day. The younglings run about with parents forgetting about the sleeping hour, for the most letting them celebrate along with the old.
The tree hall, which was the centre of the celebration, was the most beautifully decorated place throughout the whole city. The velvet strings, the rainbow-like lilies - everything was beautiful.
Aravoen had said hello to many and was tired of it now; he crept to a more secluded spot around the edge of the tree hall. He stood watching the different people: those of high power and even those common. The Eluncil members: Meyendocor, Elenar, Pastiris, Menandra, Raspian, Sturonin, Astrilia, Sander, Akasha, Rithin and Sedranor - all looking calm and talking. His mother seemed to have regained her old vitality, and Mendrek entertaining a huge mob of younglings.
He could not help but smile as he watched all this going on. He had missed his home and he regretted a certain part of his decision to leave when he was just five summers old. Even though it had also been the idea of a younger Mendrek then as much as his own.
He had never been to one of these celebrations since his father’s departing celebration ninety four years past. All this made him smile inward.
As he stood there spectating happily, he did not notice the time fly by as people showed no sign of relenting with the festivities. He realized he had lost sight of his mother and of Mendrek. Where they had gone he knew not. A soft tap on his shoulder almost made Aravoen jump out of his skin, only to turn around and see Mendrek smiling at him.
“Come,” he whispered. Aravoen nodded and followed him confused. He took him to the hills close to the inner walls, only to turn off to a narrow winding path that led to the top of a plateau. The sight was amazing. The river flowing like a giant serpent from the north to south, and the whole city could be watched from there. Mendrek and Aravoen stood there for some time before Eleonor joined them.
Just as he was about to speak, Mendrek put his index finger to his mouth signalling silence. He waved his hand in the air and mimed something in the ancient language. After doing this, he waved his hand again and three stone chairs appeared.
“Sit,” he said, breaking the silence. Eleonor made to sit, but Aravoen remained standing with a puzzled look on his face.
“Now we can speak?” Aravoen criticised.
“Now no one can eavesdrop on us, my friend,” Mendrek replied. “Now I believe you should sit down.” Aravoen made his way to the remaining chair opposite Mendrek and Eleonor.
“You must be wondering why we called you,” Mendrek said.
“Have you ever heard of the edelsteins?” Eleonor asked.
“The three stones,” Aravoen said. “I thought that was a myth, an old tale of the old. I have just read about them during my studies. All that about some demons, then I can say yes I have heard about them.”
“No, that is what those who do not know, the ignorant, the foolish and the mad, say,” Eleonor snapped. “The real story is known to a few. Now do you want to hear it?”
“Many millenniums ago before we were born,” Eleonor said patiently, “Elasia was inhabited by men, dwarves and high elves from Tir-na-Mithras. The white elves, as the high elves were commonly known, planted a great tree. It is believed that from this tree all life in Elasia spurns. This tree Alanus-de-Insulis was planted in the sacred lands of elves and wizards, Loscennhon in the south protected by the…”
“What is the difference between the high elves and elves?” Aravoen asked, cutting her short.
“Well,” Mendrek began explaining, “elves are weaker, though related to the high elves. The high elves are the true breed of elves, but you will understand that difference once your mother reaches that part of the long story.”
“Well, Mother,” Aravoen said, getting more comfortable, “do go on.”
“Where was I?” Eleonor went ahead. “Ah yes, as these creatures occupied the entire Elasia, a blood mage named Fevriandicil and two companions tried to kill the high elven King Romendicil, who just happened to be his brother, by summoning three beasts from the netherworld. He did manage to do so. Unfortunately, before he had control of the beasts they consumed and destroyed him.” She paused, taking in a deep breath before continuing. “But he had made one mistake; he had given them a purpose to live: destroy the high elves. The three beasts began a long war with the high elves that consumed the other innocent inhabitants of Elasia. The high elves named the three beasts the three demon lords, Shugori, Makabethir and Villien their leader and the greatest. This war took many long years and three high elven kings fought for Elasia.”
“However, when the war seemed to reach a deadly stalemate,” she said silently, “a high elven lord of royal blood, Gaibelann son of Essar, son of Elatha, brother to Cardor, son of a past high elven king Gaibelann fell in love with a human girl Eleonor. She was the daughter of Samhain, son of Echrad, son of Elurin one of the first captains of the northern men. They had three sons Samhain, Eothail and Ollahir. It was through this act that two of Elasia’s current races were born. Many high elves followed Gaibelann’s lead. At the time of the three brothers birth a seer, Midhir, made a prophecy. She said ‘White and red stars shall fall from the sky. From these stars, the sword, vessels and rings shall be forged. As a consequence, the three demons shall be imprisoned until they shall be awakened to their death.’ It came to pass for the Cad de Godden fell on Elasia at the place marked by the light of Omsk.”
Aravoen was listening attentively. His mother took a breath making sure he was paying attention.
“From this precious stone,” Eleonor said. “The sword Thrundmir was forged by Gaibelann. The dwarves forged the Lia fail ring for Gaibelann and the three edelsteins or vessels. Before the last battle of the demon war, gaibelann was assassinated by agents of the demons.”
“How?” Aravoen asked.
“No one knows my son,” Eleonor said, happy that Aravoen was interested. “The three demons then made a move past the Guardes Wesseleren heading for Bariador. The oldest of Gaibelann’s sons, samhain took up Thrundmir, and led the forces of Elasia to the great and final victory, trapping the demons in Loscennlom at the golden gates, before they reached Bariador. There the high elves and half elven lords drained the essence from all three demons and put them in three gems: one star-shaped, the other moon-shaped and the last sun-shaped.”
“They were entrusted into the safe keeping of the half elven,” Aravoen finished.
“But…” Aravoen had no words.
“Mendrek knows this part better than I.”
Mendrek cleared his throat before continuing the tale. “The high elves decided to leave Elasia and go to their home, Illimadria. First, they gave the three half elven princes options to choose from as a reward for their valour and the fact that they were indirectly high elven royalty. Eothail, the youngest was mortally wounded, so he took the life of a high elf and was granted new life in Tir- na- Mithras. He was never to set foot beyond the isle of Illimadria. Ollahir, the second choose to stay in Elasia. He was granted life close to that of the high elves. He and his followers were the first elves, the elves of Elvhelm.”
“What of the eldest?”
“Samhain,” Mendrek answered Aravoen, “the valiant asked for an isle near Illimadria to call his own. The high elven king of the time, visitinf from Illimadria, granted this request last, but gave him an ultimatum: never was he or his people and their descendants to set foot on Elasia or even sail east to it from the isle that they would give him. Thus he set foot on Ebill after following the Westen Aurora, and with the aid of the high elves dammed the River Ebill and he, Samhain, set up Milesonia on the foothills of the Sliabh ew Albruz and became the first Tara of Ebillon.”
“I know all this.”
“But the part often forgotten by the historians of Elasia is that Samhain and his people were entrusted with the three edelsteins, Lia Fail and Thrundmir. They were to become the heirlooms of the house of Ebill.”
“The long line of the Taras began,” Aravoen said smugly. “Yes, I know that part, all of it.”
“Let the man finish dear,” Eleonor said. Aravoen wiped the smile off his face, turned back to Mendrek, and let him talk finishing the story, but he paused with a look of anguish on his face.
“What is it?” Aravoen asked, puzzled.
“Now the worst part of the tale,” Mendrek said. “It is because of your kin that this land suffers.”
“Fefnor, a dark prince brother to Tara Arian II, sailed here and settled in what is called Novorgord to you, Le Eolith Edor to the elves and the Deep Land of Darkness to the rest. He is the one that trained Sarzgat in the dark ways, even how to divide and combine his soul with the essence of the three demons in the edelsteins. The first time that Sarzgat set foot in Ebill as a prisoner of Taj Godur II he succeeded in doing that. He cannot perish until the three stones are destroyed.”
“Then how do we destroy the edelsteins?” Aravoen asked out of curiosity
“That is for the elves to explain to you,” said Mendrek
“Have I heard you correctly?”
“You heard him,” Eleonor said abruptly. “Mendrek and I leave tomorrow to obtain acceptance for you to the elf lands. Why do you think Mendrek has been here in Eduin with me waiting for you? The Eluncil has no clue of any of the things going on.”
“Or if they do,” Mendrek added, “they show no sign of knowing a single thing.”
Aravoen was shocked beyond words. It seemed like a great task had been thrown onto his plate suddenly. Mendrek and Eleonor got up and motioned for him to do so. Eleonor approached him and removed something from around her neck. Aravoen moved his eyes from her eyes to her outstretched hand. She held something in it.
Like a reflex, he opened her hand. The light that emitted from her hand was blinding. In her hand lay a white crystal shaped like a star. It was pulsed by thin green lines which flowed around it in one complete weave. It was beautiful.
“This is the star edelstein, the last left in the hands of the half elven,” Eleonor said. “It is yours now, since the day that your father died.” She dropped it in his hands and closed his fingers over it. “The other two are safe with the mages of Horowitz,” she continued.
“I believe we have been gone long enough,” Mendrek said. “I think it is time that we went back to the celebrations.”
“Wait!” Aravoen said, confused. “You said you leave at dawn; what am I supposed to do while you go? You can’t just put something this big on me and disappear expecting me to be fine with it.”
“We shall talk more on the matter before we leave,” Mendrek said with a hint of finality in his voice.
The three of them walked down to the path which Aravoen and Mendrek had used. When they got back to the celebrations, it was at its peak and no one had even noticed that they had been gone long.
Throngs of people came up to Aravoen including some of the council members. As the celebration dragged on, Aravoen became tired and walked back to his chambers. As he slid in between the clean linen sheets, his thoughts turned to the edelstein that he now wore around his neck. Lost in his thoughts about the edelsteins, Aravoen slowly drifted into the arms of Morpheus.
* * *
Dreams roiled in Aravoen’s head. The land was clouded, the sea uneasy. On the cliff, three large, black, giant figures stood enclosing a small figure. The sword in the small figure’s hand was bloody, but not with any blood but black blood like liquid. The three figures kept on enclosing him. Suddenly a white light exploded not far from the four fighting figures.
“Leave him alone!” said a female voice. Slowly, the figures turned, and in front of them stood a figure in white holding a slender dagger in her hand. The hilt of the dagger was jewelled with a rounded pommel. Slowly, the three giant figures turned to the white figure. Just as the figures were upon her, he saw a flash of white as she raised the dagger above her head. At that precise moment, a soft voice pulled him out of his sleep.
“Emilk ior edel.” Aravoen’s eyelids fluttered and he opened his eyes to look right into his mother’s piercing almond-shaped green eyes. She was well prepared for a journey to the elves.
Aravoen sat up and looked around, the sun had not even come up. He slowly surveyed his room, and in front of the closed door stood Mendrek.
“Aravoen, we leave now,” she began, “for our mission is important. Watch the south for the elves will send two of their kind to get you.”
“What do you mean?”
“What your mother is saying,” Mendrek offered, “is that we go and beseech the elves to let you enter their sacred lands.”
“No, you will come with them even if we have not got the elven king’s approval,” Mendrek cut him short. “You must come and we will give you answers in Elvhelm and Horowitz.” Aravoen nodded, seeing no hope in refusal. Now he had no choice but to go with their plan.
“Toro Rithin,” his mother said. “Lor si e sonir elfwin.”
“Or ton tel le Eluncil, sorn wia ib merodng deri,” she added. She slowly put her hand on his cheek and stroked it lovingly. “A aemoed deri.” With those last words, she turned and walked up to Mendrek.
“See you my friend,” Mendrek said, opening the door and leading his mother out. Just as he was about to close the door he popped his white head back in. “Do not tell a soul but the elves of where we went.”
Aravoen waited a few minutes for when they had left and crossed his room to the window, which faced south. He looked out until he could spot the two dots upon white horses speeding away into the horizon.
Just as he was about to settle in bed a gentle presence touched his mind. He looked around, but his room was empty but for himself. Then suddenly and more violently than the one before the presence seized his mind.
Do not be alarmed great prince, a soft female voice said. I am the witch of the green Brithon wood and I am your only friend. When you speak to the Eluncil today, do not accept anything Sedranor says; oppose him and even suggest your armies come nearer to home in readiness for the great storm that comes. Trust Rithin and I. There was no way that he could talk to this unlikely ally. Just roll what you wish to say to me as your thoughts and we shall speak. Slowly, Aravoen turned his questions into thoughts so that this witch could answer them.
I will tell you who I am when you come to the Eluncil, she said suddenly. Now you need your rest, My Prince. But remember, you have a friend in the green witch. Just like it had come, the presence left his mind.
Aravoen could not sleep after that, all he did was toss around in bed and think of his mother, Mendrek, the edelsteins, the elves that would come for him, the Eluncil, and now this witch. He got out of bed after what seemed like a millennium of tossing and turning. Putting on his new robes, he made his way to the library where he was determined to engross himself until the time for the Eluncil came.