“What you did was a bit harsh,” Leonora remarked when they were a long way from the hall. “You may have created an enemy that you would have avoided.”
“I know Sedranor,” Rithin said. “The way Lord Aravoen handled him was just fitting. Sedranor would not have accepted had it been done respectfully. He listens to no counsel but his alone. That is why my prince’s way of doing things was better and needed.”
At length, Rithin talked. “Most of the Eluncil will not like the way this has been done. Some I presume are going to make it hard for me and Teymr to hold in place. Under Sedranor the Eluncil gained much power, but towards the end of your exile, My Lord, your mother began standing against it, reducing our power.”
“Today, what you have done,” he continued, “is show the Eluncil that you hold the power. Believe me if this gets out, you will be praised and in that you will smite the power of the Eluncil for good. By giving me the headship you have shown that you put faith in those of free mind and not they that are bent to the will of one man.”
Aravoen thought on this as Rithin finished. It seemed that in his triumph over the Eluncil he might have earned their hatred.
They walked on with everyone in their own thoughts. Where their feet took them, they had no mind to think but walk. It was not long before they found themselves at the royal chambers.
“Alas,” exclaimed Miaren, “you people and your Eluncil. Why are you not like the men of Elliyon? They removed that council in the times of Armendil I. He saw that they cause more harm than good and now I support his theory.”
“I think that I might do as Armendil, but when the time is right,” Aravoen said. “I will just make them advisers and men of high rank.”
“You count your chicks before they hatch,” Leonora said grimly.
“No, it is having hope that a day will come when there is peace in the land,” Aravoen replied.
Leonora held back what she was going to say.
They now stood before the door of a certain room. This part of the city was somewhat in the centre. The city was designed in a way that the outer wall, though in tatters, could protect the inner wall, which was weaker. The dwellings, gardens and people stayed behind a second wall that was almost thirty feet high. The royal chambers, which were almost in the middle of the city, were protected by a third wall not as strong as the other walls.
Now Aravoen, Rithin and the elves stood in this wall. Rithin stood waiting for Aravoen to confide in him.
“Rithin,” Aravoen said, “look after this land well. When I return I will be telling you to lead our men into the sacred lands. The task that requires me is of great need. That is all that I will tell you until I succeed and we meet again. Now go and do my bidding.”
Rithin was a bit shaken by these words, but nonetheless he went ahead and walked away in a daze but determined to be patient with his lord. As he walked, a blue haze passed by him. He turned to see the figure of Sedranor heading towards the elves and Aravoen. He knew war was at hand, but not physical war, verbal war. He turned back to go and try to avert this war.
He reached them in the nick of time.
“I leave immediately,” Sedranor said, “and do not dare stop me. My mind is made up. You must let me leave.”
“And why would I refute your decision?” Aravoen asked.
“You always do so Aravoen, always.”
“Sedranor, son of Thirigandor go.” Miaren spoke. “Leave now, turn your back on your kin, and seek your renown elsewhere. Leave your lord in peace.” These words seemed to have done it for Sedranor. The anger in his eyes was visible to all and sundry.
“Master elf,” he exclaimed, “how dare you attack me here, you send me from my own land yet you be not one borne of this land.”
“But he is one with heart for us borne of this land,” Aravoen said
“Very well,” Sedranor said. “My cause is gone and let it be so. I leave forsaken and will return triumphant.”
“Or so we hope,” Leonora said unexpectedly.
Sedranor matched off. He was angry and this scared Aravoen. He best knew of the things anger could cause one to do. He still remembered how he acted on impulse before he went off and grew up.
Turning to face Rithin, he said, “Watch him until he leaves,” he said warily.
“I sense that we have more to fear from him than we have to fear of anyone,” Miaren said
“He is angry, but not that much of a danger, My Lord,” Miaren said.
“My Lords,” Leonora interrupted, pointing to the sky. “The day draws to a close. The sun sets, so must we who have an early morn.”
“Then I bid you a good night until I see you in the morning,” Aravoen said. “In there are your lodgings for the night,” he added, pointing to the door that stood before them.
“Well, young master, sleep well and be ready for the ride,” Miaren said. “We have long to travel tomorrow.”
Miaren turned and entered. Leonora followed him, but stopped at the door. She turned to Aravoen and Rithin who were still standing there. “In the elven ways,” she said, “we never say good night. You never know what is to happen in the night. It is always better to say ‘peace until morning’.”
Aravoen just smiled.
“Ada awi merveiewe Aravoen,” she said, turning around and closing the door behind her.
“Un deri ent sadiri lfe.”
“My Lord, you must prepare provisions,” Rithin said.
“Then give me the honour of doing it with you, for I too leave tomorrow.”
“My friend, my general,” Aravoen said, “it would be an honour to do so with you. First we go to the stables.”
As Aravoen and Rithin walked to the stables, people peered at him joyfully; some bowing, others standing straight when he approached. They reached the stables where the noble steeds of Eduin were kept and bred. The great barn-like building stood afar, near to the second wall. Its walls were well plastered by artistry only, men of Ebill could achieve. The interior was spacious with a smell of fresh cut straw and horses. The air was full of the neighing of horses. Together, prince and general walked in, in search of their noble steeds.
“Wait for me here,” Aravoen ordered. “Better yet, seek out your steed. I go to seek Elben, for he alone can bear me hence. Together I tarried with him.” Aravoen moved in deeper. It was some time before he found Elben. The white horse stood proud as ever as he approached it.
Indeed Elben stood proud and mighty like the stallions of the great lords of Ebillon. For from them he was descended; loyal, strong, mighty and wise; ready for haste and caution, ready for war and peace. As Aravoen touched his flanks, the horse neighed so strongly that the young foals a few feet away cowered in the straw.
“Old friend,” Aravoen whispered in the horse’s ear, “great journeys we have ahead. Will you bear me as you have always done?” Elben bowed his head in what seemed to be like a nod, for Elben was only a servant of Aravoen and if they were parted he would always know where Aravoen was.
“Rest now, for tomorrow we begin a new adventure, one which might change our lives forever.” With those words, he left Elben and sought out Dedensbor the horse breeder. He found him talking with Rithin near the entrance of the stables.
“My Lord,” Dedensbor said, bowing as Aravoen approached. “What brings you into these stables at this hour?”
“Lord Horse Hand, for that is what people call you,” Aravoen replied, “prepare my steed Elben, make sure he is well fed before the moon goes down. My saddle and a few bags as well. Tend to the elven horses as well for we leave before first light.”
“But why?” Dedensbor asked
“Do not question our lord,” Rithin cut him short. “He leaves for all the people’s good.”
Rithin held a sword in an embroided sheath. Aravoen knew the sword even after ninety three years. It was his father’s sword. Rithin held it out to him. Handria, sword of the princes.
After the sword of Samhain disappeared from Elasia, after Eldon’s armies defeated Sarzgat in the last great war, Amleth the elder son passed down his sword to his son and here it was infront of Aravoen. Handria blade of the princes was his by birth right.
“I kept it sharp,” Rithin said, “waiting for the day you would come back for it.”
“Thank you general.”
“Unsheath it,” Rithin said dropping the ancient sword in Aravoen’s hands.
Aravoen slowly drew out the sord. Its thin blade shone in the dim lights of the fire stands. Aravoen admired the ancient markings on it. They formed a long wave of silver designs and in the center the words Warriors never turn back.
Dedensbor looked at the sword in awe. “I thought that sword had been lost with lord Amroth.”
“It was not horse master,” Rithin said. “Now help us with our steeds.”
“Then in that case you shall find the noble steeds ready for you,” he replied, downcast. “And may the stars protect you during the nights of your absence.”
“I hope they will.” Aravoen said, sheathing the sword.
“They will Aravoen,” Rithin said.
Aravoen smiled and bade Rithin a good night before making his way back to his chambers. As he coiled in bed, the weariness of the whole day crept up on him and Morpheus opened up his arms to him.
* * *
The sky was dark and thunder could be heard in the distance. The three large, dark figures stood over the woman, for the hem of her dress could be seen, but only just. A clap of thunder went through the sky. The rain that came crashing down was increasing in amount. The waves that beat at the shoreline increased their ferociousness. Like a bolt from the blue, a white light emitted from the sky and the ground where the three beasts stood opened up. A golden light emitted from below, but only for second. The three were swallowed up and there stood the woman dying. A cry of horror and pain…
Aravoen awoke, sweating profusely. He had been having the same dream and never saw who the woman was that lay dying there. He wondered who had cried out in pain and horror. Calming himself, he went back to sleep, more of a watchful wake than sleep.
* * *
Someone touched him. Aravoen woke with a start and there Miaren and Leonora stood in his room.
“Get dressed,” Leonora said quietly. “Time to leave.” The sun was not yet out, and by the signs outside, was a long way from showing its face on the land. Aravoen put on his mail under his clothes. He put his black-hooded cloak about his shoulders. Belting his new Eduinian sword about his waist, and getting his quiver and bow from where they lay in the corner of the room, and putting them on his back, he went to the elves that were waiting outside.
Together they went to the stable where their noble steeds stood ready for them; saddles in place with light supply bags. As soon as they mounted, Aravoen on the right, Miaren on the left and Leonora in the middle, they set the horses on a trot out of the city. Aravoen wondered when he would see the city again. Would it be a grim return, or a glorious return as a king, or as a mere hidden prince again?
He had fallen behind the elves.
“Elben, on to our heritage.” With those words, Elben burst into a gallop and caught up with the elf steeds. Together they crossed the River Nimlor and south they went; elves and one of the half elven, or better known as Easel.