Original art by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law


Abyss The Demonweb Pits sometime in 1371

Lloth clapped her immaculately groomed hands in an exaggerated show of approval, gracing Kiaransalee with one of her sweetly poisonous smiles.

“A hilarious trap, lotha dalninil, and so well suited for the greedy darthiir bitch! But what about the other one? How does he fit into that little puzzle of yours?” She swiveled on her soft throne and turned to the elven vampire. “I want to hear more about your brother, elg'caress.”

“And so you will, Great Mistress,” Bodhi flicked her long red tongue over sharp canines, and looked at the closest quth-maren with longing. The vampire felt dizzy with hunger, and the smell of blood oozing from the walking corpse’s flayed flesh was overwhelming her senses. Still, if she wanted another chance at un-life she had to do her best to appease the drow Goddesses.

“That summer was a long and hot one, Great One, and after the Company of Green Spears returned from their hunt in the Starspire Mountains strange events had come to pass that touched the lives of many.”



1201, The Year of Embers

The sun reflected cheerfully from thousands of small ripples as a southern breeze trailed a light cat's-paw across the bright surface of Suldanesse. The river slowed down its wild rush after passing through the rapids, and now its currents trickled lazily under the caress of morning sun and wind, as it flowed majestically around the five green hills in the very heart of Wealdath. The forested knolls were green and lavish, sprouting the groves of tallest, healthiest, and most magnificent trees one’s eye could rest upon in such heaven as this remote, pastoral valley. Yet even among these green giants of the floral kingdom climbing over two hundred feet into the cloudless summer sky, the Tree that grew upon the furthest hill towering over them all like a patriarch over his numerous progeny, inspired awe, and admiration. It was the largest oak ever to grow in the shaded glades of Tethyr - its elephantine trunk expanding thirty feet in diameter swathed the entire hill with a tangled mass of roots and tendrils. As Suldanesse passed the hills bearing their wondrous glades and the gigantic oak tree, it entered a more level area, with a row after row of small rolling mounds covered in greenery and flowering shrubs. The air smelled sweet here. The water in the shallow lagoons along the flat banks of the river was warm and clear, and the small sandy beaches lured a tired traveler to rest on the welcoming shores.

One such location, about a mile down the stream from the last turn that offered a clear view on the oak, was a popular swimming hole among the valley’s inhabitants. Yet, in that early hour the shore was still empty, and the placid waves of Suldanesse washed over the clean crescent of white sand unblemished by footprints. The fragrant morning air was filled only with the rustle of leaves, the whisper of restless stream, and bird songs. However, this peaceful disposition was ruined, when a loud clap thundered in the sky, followed by sizzle and cracking. About a mile above the shiny surface of the river, a bright white spot suddenly appeared in the air, quickly expanding into a pentagonal star and forming a conduit of a teleporter spell. Two slim figures cloaked in non-descript gray and loaded with heavy packs came out of the portal, and suddenly discovered themselves in a very precarious position, as they were rapidly falling down from the sky into the water. The smaller one issued a loud yelp, but was instantly secured by the hand of his taller companion, who somehow managed to slow their rapid descent and then to stop it altogether. They were now hovering less than ten feet above the river, with the taller traveller virtually ignoring the stream of angry reprisals coming from his smaller friend, whose feet almost touched the waves of the lazily flowing stream below. Gradually, the two elves (and the pair appeared to be of elven descent) drifted closer to the shore and were able to lower themselves on dry land without further misfortune.

“I knew you were going to be the death of me, Jon,” the smaller dark-haired youth finally muttered, jumping to the ground from his companion’s hold and shaking his head, even as the older elf stepped smoothly on the grass with an expression of slight amusement on his eloquent face.

“Bah, you are overreacting, Velemir,” the taller one answered with a smirk. “You are thinking with your hypothalamus again, not your cortex.”

“Or perhaps with my buttocks, which did not like the idea of been smeared all over the landscape!”

“We were never in any particular danger,” the other elf replied coolly. “Just think about it, I’ve picked that spot on purpose. The water is quite deep down there.” He pointed at the stream. “The worst your rear end would have suffered was a dunk in the river. And why did not you activate the levitation spell of your own?”

“After falling a mile or so from the sky? I am not six-fingered like you are, Joneleth! By the way, how many times did you try this version of the teleport?”

“Well, twice,” the one he called Joneleth admitted with a sly grin. “The first time I’ve tried to transport myself from Sunset Gate to the Eastern Wall and ended thirty miles off, in the lake by the Tower of Dreams, but the second time it worked like a charm.”

“That was when Luewyn had to travel for half a day to extract you from that tree in the Greycloak Hills?” Velemir asked suspiciously.

“A slight miscalculation on my part, nothing more, and she exaggerated the whole ordeal to endorse her own heroism,” Joneleth answered sincerely, but the wicked glint in his eyes told a different story. “And getting stuck inside the tree upon the arrival was not important, since I was still able to communicate my message to her. The modification that I made to the spell allows me to carry twice more weight than it is normally allowed, and target the area that is only vaguely familiar. That is why I was able to take you with me today.” He snorted, clearly indicating that the discussion was over.

 The shorter youth only sighed at this haughty reply for he knew his companion too well to argue. “Look at him,” Velemir thought staring at the other elf with appreciation. “He does not look like he just fallen from the height of two Cloudcrown towers. Always so cool, and composed... unlike me.” His friend’s appearance was indeed, remarkable. He was very tall, pale, and strikingly handsome even for the generally beautiful elven race, but with an air of arrogant disdain around him that made one feel slightly thwarted by just being in his presence.

Velemir’s own looks were not nearly as interesting. His ears were less prominent, and they had certain roundness to them, same as his rosy cheeks and hairless chin; his hair was a fuzzy mess of wavy dark curls, falling on his shoulders in pretty ringlets. 

“Now, stop gibbering like a melodramatic ape of a human, and pull yourself together!” the fair elf exclaimed mockingly turning to his younger protégé. His bright easy smile indicated that it was all a good joke acceptable among friends, but Velemir wondered how sincere that smile really was. “I thought you’ve wanted to see the ‘rural ethnic settlement’ in all its glory, or do you feel intimidated at the first sight of Suldanesselar? After all, it was you who convinced me to drag you along!”

“No, no, I still want to come,” Velemir replied quickly, swallowing the jibe about ‘human’, “when was it that you’ve last been here, Jon? I cannot remember you ever getting away from Evereska for more than a day or two, and you never told me anything about your home until yesterday.”

“Let me see,” Joneleth answered indicating impatiently that they should start moving. He continued after a short pause, after they climbed up the grassy bank and found the trail leading deeper into the forest. “The last time I went home was for Yave’s passage ceremony, when she turned ten and a hundred, and that was about ten years ago.”

“Who’s Yave?” Velemir asked curiously.

“Oh, did not I tell you already? She is my younger sister. The late bloom as Mother calls her. She is a spirited youngster although no match for the other one,” he suddenly grinned as if thinking of something exceedingly funny. “You will meet the whole family soon enough, but first we will go to see the Old Man.”

“I thought your father was dead,” Velemir blurted out, then reddened realizing the depth of his blunder – elves never spoke of the deceased in this manner. The state of death was generally referred to as a ‘departure’. But being a half-breed (and thus barred from the Arvanaith), even the one born and raised in one of the fairest elven cities and accepted in the Evereskan Academy of Magic, he sometimes lacked the finesse when dealing with these matters. Vel was after all very young by the elven standards, as he had barely turned thirty the last summer, and was always painfully aware of the two centuries difference between himself and his illustrious friend.

“Oh, you are quite right.” Joneleth replied nonchalantly. “Old Lord Ithilnien had departed to Arvanaith before Yave was even born.”

“Wait a minute,” now Velemir was even more confused, “Old Lord Ithilnien? But you are the eldest son, right? You’ve never told me your father was the Head of your noble House. That makes you...”

“That makes me nothing at all,” the moon elf snapped curtly. “My noble Mother, Lady Nyonin, is the Elder of House Ithilnien that consists only of her and her three children. And because she and my father were the only survivors of the clan Mistwinter after the fall of Myth Drannor, she carries that title as well. Upon her own passage, she will appoint a new Lord or Lady of the House, and I sincerely hope she will choose Bodhi as I have no inclination to carry yet another ancestral burden on my shoulders.” Joneleth felt silent as they strode along the trail that was leading them towards the closest of the five great Hills of Suldanesselar. “All of this is rather irrelevant,” he continued after a while in somewhat milder tone, giving Velemir a slightly crooked but reassuring smile, “and has nothing to do with the Old Man. But you will see for yourself.”

Velemir nodded his acquiescence. He was always in awe of his companion, and he had a good reason for this. His own family was that of rich half-elven merchants that have prospered on trade between Evereska and the northern human communities. Rare was a caravan departing for Waterdeep or Silvermoon that did not carry some rare magical items and musical instruments in crates marked with his father’s seal of two interlinking rings (one of white silver and one of black iron). His enrollment in the Academy of Magic was sponsored by the Elder Lord Duirstar himself, as he owed some favor to the family. In the Academy, Velemir was not exactly ostracized, as the fair folk would never allow anything of a kind to go openly in that highly respected institution. But in his first year, Vel was particularly unlucky to be assigned to a class that consisted almost exclusively of the young offspring of gold elven families. Most of the time he was treated with exceeding politeness by his teachers, and gently snubbed by his fellow students. By the end of the first trimester, Velemir was almost ready to give up on his life’s dream, only to escape the exquisite torment of their silent disapproval. But then Joneleth came along, and things had changed rapidly.

The moon elf was technically no longer a student, rather a junior arcane instructor on some tenure or another, who was sometimes sent by the prominent archmage to whom he was apprenticed to lead a class or two in his absence. And he was the only one who looked at Velemir with genuine interest in his icy blue eyes not a polite dismissal, or the pity that he could read in almost every other stare. He went as far as to actually stop the half-elven youth in the corridor a few times, and ask him a few questions related to his progress on the subject he was teaching, all the time observing Vel’s reactions and really listening to his answers. Later Velemir had a strange fantasy that for Jon he was merely another test subject, or a rare specimen not to be set aside without a study. But it was still better than outright dismissal. During his sessions with their class, Joneleth had taken to make seemingly innocent remarks about Vel’s classmates, and although that commentary was obviously random, somehow the snobbiest of the young sun elves always ended up as the targets for his barbs. These jokes were very clever, sometimes cruel, but always exceedingly funny like that time when he called Irmoruil Raersaar ‘a crude implementation of his father’s lukewarm desire’. Well, the name Irmoruil did mean ‘a noble desire’, and it was Irmo’s mother fault to name him so, but it took a few days before Velemir could look at the other youth without involuntary giggling. Soon he was following the moon elf like a shadow or a stray puppy, and strangely enough, Jon has accepted this proffered affection without a word.

Quickly enough Vel had discovered that his new idol was also a loner. Oh, he did have lady friends, although they were infrequent and usually disappeared with a passing of a season, but there were barely any male acquaintances, and definitely no true friends as far as Vel could see. Strangely, that fact made the half-elf feel better about his own association with Jon. Almost as if it was he who was doing the older elf a favor. At first Velemir was surprised that someone so strikingly handsome, well-born and extraordinary smart could be so unpopular. But than he realized that Joneleth’s cynical sense of humor did not stop at his classmates, and that the moon elf found it very amusing to tell his own peers what exactly did he think of them when the mood stroke him. He was particularly brutal in his reviews of their arcane studies. Listening to Jon one could think that half of the Academy were illiterate menials, who should not be allowed to touch a scroll with a sixty feet pole, and that the other half were incompetent blunderers, who presented a danger to elven society, and should not be permitted to be in the same building with magical items or devices. Of course, he was equally vicious when talking about his own work but that barely mattered, as everybody knew that Joneleth was an arcane genius, and everything he touched with his long clever fingers turned magical, as if by divine intervention.

And there was also a matter of women. Honestly, who would befriend an elf with reputation as bad as Jon’s, or introduce him to his sister? The majority of Evereskan maidens proclaimed him a heartless bastard, who would not flinch at having an affair with his colleague’s fiancée (after she practically forced it on him), and then abandon her when he grew tired of her exalted histrionics. That did not stop more adventurous elf lasses from trying to woo Joneleth, as on top of his stunningly good looks (the fact that he seemed to be totally ignorant about but Velemir was sure he knew, and used to his full advantage), Jon (truthfully so) was considered the brightest and most promising young mage to enter the Academy in a century or so. Joneleth accepted these flirtations with a flicker of an immaculate silver brow, a lazy smile, and that aura of amused indifference and unawareness of his own magnetism that attracted them like sugar water flies. These flings never lasted long, and Velemir suspected they were just another way of feeding Jon’s insatiable curiosity that was the most reliable feature of his mercurial personality. His current ‘passion’ was Luewyn - the youngest daughter of some high official from the City Council and a gold elf, as strict and rigid in her own code of personal behavior, as Joneleth was irregular. She was also a talented young mage, who was apprenticed to the same master as Jon. How did they manage to find a common ground was a mystery to Vel, but perhaps Luewyn was simply trying to use Jon for her own career advancement, and the cold logical core that was at the center of the moon elf’s mindset found the girl’s ambitious personality appealing? Velemir doubted this liaison would last any longer than the previous ones.

“Jon,” the half-elf suddenly asked without thinking, “how come you’ve taken me with you but not Lu? I know she would have wanted to come.”

“I had my reasons,” Joneleth answered after a short pause. “I am going to inform Mother about my decision to go to Evermeet. There is no sense in getting Luewyn upset in advance. She will be mad enough when she finds out; although I am sure her main grudge is going to be the fact that it is I who is going and not her.”

“What?” Velemir’s jaw dropped. “You cannot be serious! You’ve never told me anything about it ... When did you make these plans?”

“I was growing restless in Evereska.” The other elf answered absently. “I am going to be tested as a potential high mage at the Tower of the Moon next month.” He noticed Velemir’s chagrined expression. “Stop looking at me like I am a two headed ettin! You must realize that sooner or later, it was going to happen. Mother was pestering me about it for a very long time, although I never liked the idea of spending decades of my life in that land of mummified traditions. But study of high magic can give me what I seek, as I can no longer be satisfied with the pitiful scraps of knowledge they are feeding me at the Academy. My current master is a pathetic buffoon, who is hiding his incompetence behind the mask of enigmatic pomposity but I finally managed to convince him that it is in his best interest to give me his recommendation.”

Velemir’s heart gave a painful jerk. So, he was not going to see his friend ever again, as Evermeet was forbidden to non-elves, and by the time Jon would return he would hardly remember of Velemir’s existence. Perhaps, this trip to Suldanesselar that he cherished as a precious gift was an apology of a sort? He would never know.

At that moment, they reached a site where the trail passed between two majestic maple trees, before continuing further up the hill. Joneleth stopped Vel with a shake of his head, then beckoned him closer offering his hand in a gesture of silent command. Velemir accepted the cool firm grip of his companion’s long fingers on his arm, and together they passed under the green whispering canopy of star-shaped leaves. For a brief moment, the half-elf felt a strange tingling sensation, as if swimming through the layer of cold water into a warmer stream, then everything settled and he felt a soft warm blanket of joyful affection envelope his mind, providing him with additional sense of security and well-being. Velemir looked at Joneleth in silent wonder, and to his surprise noticed that the moon elf was scowling in amused irritation that was swiftly turning into an affectionate grin.

“Welcome to the Old Man’s private Sanitarium, also known as Suldanesselar mythal,” Joneleth finally uttered with a wink at the young half-elf. “Every time I enter this bubble of joy I forget how nasty and forlorn you can feel outside, in the big world. But then again, you cannot spend your whole life in the nursery, though some of us prefer it this way.”

“But I know Evereskan mythal!” Velemir exclaimed in wonder, “it never felt so... so personal and wonderful. Almost as if you are in a presence of a gentle deity who cares about you.”

“Oh, he does care, alright,” the older elf muttered absently, “sometimes I wonder if he cares too much ...”

At that precise moment, the bushed on both sides of the trail parted without a sound, and a band of half-naked, painted, olive skinned elven warriors carrying long and very sharp spears barred their path.

“Declare yourself to the Queen’s guard!” a slender wood elf, obviously in command, ordered in a harsh but pleasant voice. Although the question was worded in spoken elven, Velemir’s urban ear immediately noticed his sylvan accent that was softer on the consonants, and rich with long, sonorous vowels.

“Stop this nonsense, Keth’roen, you know me well enough,” Jon’s voice sounded slightly irritated, “or is it your newly acquired notable position as a commander and chief of a pantless gang of equally ill-mannered children that makes you so forgetful?”

“I know you, my lord, but not the human you bring in tow!”

“Ah,” the moon elf’s pale brow jerked up in a visible signal of utter annoyance. “It is that bad, is not it? Allow me to introduce you to my young friend here, Keth. Velemir Rielev is a scion of a prominent half-elven family of Evereska.”

“A Na'N'Tel'Quess!” the young warrior almost spat this term that could be best translated as ‘almost-not-person’ and Velemir felt the heat of anger rising to his cheeks.


By the time that Joneleth convinced the guards to let them pass, the half-elf was already sick to his stomach from their contemptuous stares. Jon simply told Keth’roen that Velemir was a friend of the family, and thus he would have to discuss this affair with his mother and sisters, after which blatant remark the wood elf blushed, and quickly lost interest in detaining them any longer. His delicate pointy ears were flaming red as he led away his miffed gang, and Velemir wondered absently if Jon’s words had a hidden meaning (which they often did in the past). The palms of Vel’s hands turned cold and clammy, despite the warm weather, and he felt a revolting trickle of sweat snaking down his spine. Worst of all was the feeling that he was utterly humiliated in front of Jon, and their relationship was once again reduced to the level of a patron and his sycophant. But if Joneleth had noticed Velemir’s discomfort, he had ignored it so completely that after a while the young mage began to relax.

The scenery around the trail was magnificent, and so different from the cool northern forests of Evereskan valley that Velemir could not stop himself from gaping. The columns of tree trunks simply disappeared from sight in the green haze above, after reaching a height of a hundred and fifty feet or so, and for the life of him, Vel could not imagine how further up did they go. He could not spot any blueleafs, so common in the woods around Evereska but from Jon’s sparse remarks, he deduced these were regular sugar maples, hornbeams, and chestnuts burgeoned to the size unknown outside the heart of Wealdath. There were no sign of elfin habitation so far, only rays of green and golden light streaming through the perforated canopy of leaves somewhere above, and a silent flight of thousands blue butterflies, weaving delicate patterns of their dance through the flickering columns of sunlight. Joneleth drifted into a melancholy mood, and since after the scene with the guards Vel could not gather enough courage to start a conversation, they treaded along in silence interrupted only by brief pointed exclamations from the older elf. The trail forked a few times but Jon always picked the northernmost branch that led them through the thick undergrowth of blueberry bush, and green fragrant patches of spearmint. Soon, the two companions were striding downhill, and as the woods became sparser, they walked to the edge of the forest that ended at the foot of the hill they were standing on.

Later on, when Velemir tried to remember his first sight of the Old Man he discovered that his memory of that moment became hazy and riddled with holes. As other important events surmounted that piercing instance of awareness that came over him when they stepped into the glade outside the Temple Hill, he recognized that the only remembrance he could honestly count as his own, was a momentous sense of belonging, of kinship and acceptance that he never before experienced outside his family. It was such an intense feeling that he almost cried out, even as his eyes beheld the silver-gray leviathan of an oak tree rising fifty feet tall from the round hill before him, whilst its living green branches spread over a distance many times broader. It was not improbably tall - Velemir realized later - not compared to the humongous maple and chestnut trees they just passed, or for that matter the grove of copper beeches that formed the base of the Suldanesselar Royal Palace. But as he gazed at the gnarled fingers of the Tree’s giant hand of a trunk, and saw them reach into the clear bowl of the summer sky above his head, he thought that without that support the fragile heavens might break, and rain down on earth in a shower of bright azure fragments and streams of starlight.

“Is this the Old Man?” he remembered himself asking in a small voice when they came closer, but could not recall the other’s answer, even if there was one.

When he next looked at his friend, he saw such a strange mixture of feelings, so rare on that cool dispassionate face that at first he could not believe his eyes, and then it was too late to worry about it as the expression was gone, replaced by Jon’s usual mask of mocking contempt. But for a moment there was an open longing in the moon elf’s eyes, mixed with a chagrin of a forlorn child, and below it – a deeply hidden desire, almost lust that he had never seen there when Joneleth looked at his current lover or any other woman.

“So, you’ve won in this little game of wills, old bastard,” the half-elf could not believe he heard his friend mutter, “Of course I’ve found an excuse to come, and  here I am again. Now, what do you want of me?”

Velemir looked at Jon’s face but it was as impenetrable as ever, although the moon elf’s eyes were big as two saucers, and suspiciously shiny, even for a hot summer day.

“I need to go up there,” Jon burst out suddenly, as if afraid of saying it aloud. His voice quivered with restrained emotions, as he did not even turn his head to see Velemir nod his acceptance and quickly shed his backpack and his cloak on the ground.

“Of course, Joneleth, I would wait for you here ...,” he did not have time to finish it; the other elf was already gone.

Velemir sat on one of the many protruding gigantic roots, and watched Jon climb up with astounding agility, more appropriate in a wildcat or a marten than in a celebrated scholar, finding invisible footholds among the many cracks and fissures on the ancient silver bark, and then reaching the level where the maze-like tangle of branches provided him with more solid support. Soon the moon elf disappeared among the emerald sea of leaves, and Vel sighed and cozied himself on a particularly twisted knot of roots, that seemed almost consciously designed to serve as an arm-chair, preparing for a long wait.

Vel never expected it to be that long. An hour passed by, then another one, or at least that was how the half-elf estimated it, by looking at the shrinking shadow of the Tree. Eventually, he dozed off with his head nested on his rolled up cloak placed into the shallow indentation in his improvised seat. He woke up abruptly, as if from a sudden touch of a cool hand upon his sweaty cheek, although he was sure there was no real physical contact. His face was burning as the tide of sunlight was beating steadily into his closed eyelids. The shadow has retreated almost to the massive trunk of the giant oak, and he was now lying on his back, with his flushed face open to the warmth of the midday sun. Velemir raised his head, blinking the sweat away from his blurry eyes. Somebody was standing in the shade of the Tree, no further than ten steps away from him. The play of shadows and sunlight cloaked the intruder into a shifting mantle of emerald radiance, and at first he could not distinguish if the figure was male or female.

Then she made a step forward, and he saw her exquisitely beautiful face, that of a living statue carved from a piece of bright amber, and lit from inside by the deep, warm glow of her inner fire. Her eyes were of the deep verdant color that can only be seen in the middle of Flamerule on the leaves of mature oak trees deep in the heart of the forest. Vel, totally lost and flabbergasted before the face of the apparition, thought that if he was making a sculpture of her, he would have to use emeralds of purest water to cast the eyes. She shook her head slightly, smiling at his stunned expression, and a wave of hair the color of dawn swathed her shoulders into a veil of burning flame.

She was dressed in a wide mantle, of what looked like a green silk but in reality might have been a loose weave of forest leaves and green grasses. Below that voluminous garment she wore a rather skimpy dress of the same clinging silk in soft beige tones that did not conceal much but left a berth to imagination. Cunningly designed, it assured that the watcher was left puzzled as to how much was still hidden from view under the soft pleats of that near-transparent gown. The outfit was completed with a few bead and feather necklaces that dangled loosely around her graceful neck. The shade of her skin and hair, as well as the angular sharpness of her features that were made more vivid by skillfully applied face paint in strange swirling patterns, indicated a wood elf. Yet, there was something more to the stranger’s appearance, as if an invisible force field enveloped her near-naked figure, and lent her slim persona a grand presence that defined her as much more than just a beautiful elven woman on a stroll through the woods.

“What are you?” Velemir whispered in wonder but if the woman was about to answer she had no time. At that instance they finally heard a rustle in the crown of the giant oak, and his friend half-jumped, half-rolled down the tree trunk, with amazing dexterity and skill, laughing at something only he alone would know or comprehend.

“I should have known it was you,” the woman’s face took a somber expression, but her eyes were full of merriment at Joneleth’s pink, untidy appearance, and her voice rung silver with hidden laughter. “Who else would come back without a warning to his family or friends after years of absence, and bring a half-elf for a consolation gift? Welcome home, my young lord Ithilnien. You have grown handsome and strong over these many cycles. I gather your new pursuits suit you well, but we have missed you and your many talents.”

The expression on the moon elf’s face was priceless. Velemir almost chuckled with glee. (He loved his friend dearly but was not above enjoying this small consolation for his own wounded pride.) It was indeed a day of many discoveries. Never before, he had seen Joneleth confused around a woman. She in her turn looked at Jon with an air of mixed amusement and approval, as if she was evaluating a piece of art or a plant in full bloom, and found it appealing. He was incredibly handsome in his disheveled state, with his hair tousled and clothes twisted and torn after his extended climb up and down the Tree, Velemir admitted reluctantly. And suddenly the half-elf felt a pang of jealousy that had never entered his heart when Joneleth was in the middle of one of his many affairs.

Amin naa tualle, Arwen en amin.” When Jon finally found his tongue, Velemir thought that he sounded rather formal and restrained, despite his obvious fascination with the lady. “You must surely understand that I had no time for advanced notification. The opportunity presented itself, and I decided it was time.”

“There is no need to explain yourself to me, Joneleth Ithilnien. Although, as I had mentioned many times to your distinguished lady mother, I could never understand why would you remove yourself from the city so completely, when it is in a dire need of your talent, and when you are finally at the stage of your training when you can be of valuable service. No, we will not speak of it now.” she stopped Jon’s coming remark with a smile and a regal wave of her hand. “I would send you a formal invitation for an audience, and please bring your young companion with you. It has been many moons since I’ve had an opportunity to speak with one of his kind. It may prove...useful.”

The woman nodded at them with the look of benevolent amusement, and disappeared down the trail she had originally came from, without waiting for response. After a while, it struck Velemir that she was not expecting any answer.

“Who was that?” he dared to ask his friend after a period of silence.

“That was lady Ellesime ‘Rallathil’, by the powers of the Seldarine - the illustrious queen of Suldanesselar and its lands,” Jon answered solemnly. “And I will eat my spellbook if I know what brought her here today at the most inconvenient of times! One can almost think it was prearranged.” He glanced up at the crown of the oak tree with an expression of stubborn defiance on his flushed face, and Vel thought that he looked like a child who was about to be sent to bed early, and although he knew perfectly well it was good for him, still wanted to put up a fight.

Amin naa tualle, Arwen en amin. - I am at your service, my lady. (elv.)



Last modified on March 1, 2003
Copyright © 2003 by Janetta Bogatchenko. All rights reserved.