I Am the Life: Chapter 27

The days that we were stationary flew by and before we knew it, autumn was here. I wondered whether or not it was a good idea to leave and try and get the Centaurs to join us. Maybe we should wait until spring? I was unsure so I went to talk to Gabrithon. He was busy training the Humans, who were doing much better than before. I waited until he’d stopped and handed the five boys over to Elthinor for sword training before I approached him. He smiled.

“Hello Fily. Come to watch?”

“No, I have a question for you.”

“Alright. What is it?”

“When should we go to the Centaurs? Should we leave in a few days, or should we wait until spring?”

Gabrithon thought about that for a moment. “I believe we should leave in the spring. If we left in a few days, we would get there when they are going through preparations for winter. Father wouldn’t be too pleased to be distracted, let alone be distracted by our, um, odd little group.”

“I suppose that’s a good reason,” I said, feeling a little disappointed.

“Oh, Fily, I don’t even know if you’ll get them to come with us. My father is not so easily persuaded, especially by a girl.”

“They have to. We need every race to fight against the Dark Master.”

Gabrithon shook his head, but he didn’t bother arguing with me anymore. We watched the boys train with Elthinor. They really are getting good, I thought as one of them held his ground against Elthinor. He did lose more quickly than was really acceptable, but he had done well.

“Filynora! Come look at the archers!” my father shouted.

I bid my friends goodbye then walked over to Elyosius and headed over to the range. As far as I could tell, they were all gripping the bow properly. They each fired arrows at the targets, and they were getting good, just like the swords. I hummed.

“They are learning swordplay, right Father?”

“Yes. But I’m not sure where we will find them swords when the time comes.”

“If the Satyrs come, we can have them forge swords,” I suggested.

“Where would we get the metal?”

“I don’t know,” I sighed. “Maybe we’re just in trouble.”

“Don’t worry, Filynora. God will provide if this war is in His will.”

“I hope so.”

“Have faith.”

I smiled. It was difficult for me to see a way out of this, but my father was right. I had to have faith. God hadn’t let me down yet, so what other reaction was appropriate? I watched the archers for a while, reminded of the time that I had spent honing my own skills as a child. They were good memories. I remembered when I had first hit the makeshift target that I had set up. I had danced with Ember in joy then dragged Mother outside to see. I smiled at the memories then frowned when a thought bubbled up.

“Father, what would Mother think of this?”

Elyosius sighed and placed a hand on my shoulder. “I believe she would be shocked by all of this. She never did comprehend just how dark the creatures after me were.”

“And are,” I said. “Except now they’re after me.”

“That doesn’t mean they don’t want to kill me anymore. I am a truth keeper, remember? I am the last one that has the stories of old, stories of the truth.”

I thought about it a second before nodding. “I didn’t think of that.”

We became quiet again, watching the boys retrieve their arrows. After they had started shooting again, I turned and bid my father goodbye then walked over to see how my friends were fairing. They were busy, each fighting one boy. No boy would fight me, so I just watched until Elthinor noticed me.

“Fily?” he asked, easily beating the boy back then sheathing his sword and helping him back up.

“Hm?” I asked.

“You look bored. Care to fight a boy? There are plenty of them.”

“They wouldn’t fight right,” I said.

“Oh. I guess you’re right,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Why don’t you go find Melanari?” Gabrithon asked after triumphing over the boy he was fighting.

“Well it’s something to do,” I said with a shrug then headed into the growing town.

I was wandering over to the Elven tents when a whistle stopped me. I turned to see Tynan staring at me, a grin on his face. Great, just what I wanted. I started walking away, but I hadn’t taken more than five steps when somebody grabbed my arm and jerked me backward. I hit the ground and gasped at the impact. I heard Tynan laughing as he twisted my arm behind my back.

“What’s the matter, Fily?” he asked tauntingly.

“Get off!” I growled, trying to free myself. I gasped as he jerked my arm hard and pain began radiating from my shoulder.

“No. What are you going to do about it? You’re pet isn’t here, and neither are your friends.” He paused and pushed harder. “You’re just pathetic without a body guard. Aren’t you, girlie?”

Anger made my face break out with my designs. Tynan pressed his foot on my back and began pushing down. I could see the feet of the audience that was gathering. Another wave of pain had me crying out. That was it. I lost my temper and that Strangeling strength of mine returned. I stood, causing Tynan to fly back, then twisted and freed my arm. He looked shocked. I saw red, wanting to cause pain, and the next thing I knew, I had wrenched Tynan’s shoulder out of joint. He took a swing at me with his other arm, and I jerked him forward, getting pleasure when he landed hard on his dislocated shoulder wrong. He rolled onto his back and, still feeling vindictive, I stepped hard on his groin.

“If you ever pick on me again,” I began, pulling out my knife. “I will personally stick this somewhere unpleasant, understand?” Tynan was moaning, but he nodded, looking frightened. I turned and looked at Ackley and the other Paxtonvalians. “That goes for all of you, got it?”

I removed my foot from Tynan then walked away, sheathing my knife. Pushing past the crowd, I went off to search for Melanari. That night I was sitting beside a fire by myself when there was a rush of movement in the dark. I stood and unsheathed my sword. It was a false alarm. All of my friends, plus Aloron and my father, came bursting into the firelight. I put my sword back and was about to say hello when Elthinor grabbed me and began looking me over. I let him, a little confused.

“Are you alright?” he asked worriedly.

“I’m fine. Why?”

“It’s all over town,” Valtrak said.

“What is?” I asked.

“That you and that bully of yours had a fight,” Gabrithon said, his blue eyes piercing.

“Oh. My shoulder is a little sore, but other than that, I’m good.”

“Well that’s good,” Aloron said, though there was something off in his voice.

“Aloron?” I queried.

“Fighting is not the answer,” he replied.

“We fight those dark creatures all the time.”

“Yes but this is a different kind of fighting. Remember what your father said. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ I believe that is a very good idea. Fighting with that boy was not the answer to your problem.”

“But I sincerely think he won’t attack me again,” I argued.

“Attack you?” Aloron asked, his demeanor changing. “So it was self-defense?”

“Yes! I didn’t just walk up to him and throw a punch! He hurt me first!”

“I’d say that’s a little different,” Elyosius said. “We can’t just expect her to be humiliated.”

“I agree,” Aloron said with a nod. “But I don’t want you to fight anymore, Filynora. Not if you can help it. The enemy is one thing, but not those on our side.”

“But Tynan is my enemy.”

My father cleared his throat. “Jesiah once said ‘Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you.’ Now he didn’t mean the fallen angels, but those who are of the five races. I know it is a difficult thing to do, but you must try.” He paused. “I want to say ‘Look at all God did for us,’ but I can’t remember why I should say that.”

“That’s an odd thing to say,” Aloron said.

“The pinnacle of the stories, the culmination of everything, of Jesiah himself, is the story I either cannot remember or did not hear before the truth keepers were destroyed. I wish…” he trailed off and sighed. “It is no use wishing. I simply do not know. That is why I hope we get the last scroll. Maybe that will help me remember. If not, it will be good to hear how the story ends up.”

“I agree. I have waited most of my life to find out how this story unfolds. It would be nice to have an end to it before I end,” Aloron said wistfully.

Aloron and Elyosius talked together as we all lowered ourselves around the fire. Jaiden hurried away, bringing four rabbits for us, already skinned and gutted, and we cooked them one by one over the fire. We each ate heartily and just as we had finished, Ember appeared. He immediately lay beside me, chomping on the bones. He had been borrowed by Jaiden to go hunting with him that day. I didn’t know where he had been in the time that Jaiden had been back, but it was probably with the other Elementals. They weren’t used to so many people passing by, and it made them nervous. I pet my beloved pet and his tail began wagging, pausing in his gnawing long enough to lick my hand once.

“Ember,” my father suddenly said. “Do you remember me boy? You were just a pup when I last saw you.”

Ember looked up at his name, looked detachedly at my father, then went back to his bone. My father got up and walked around to kneel beside Ember. Ember growled possessively and pulled his bone closer to his body. My father suddenly stuck his hand down in front of Ember’s nose as I cried out for him not to. I watched helplessly as Ember snapped at him, his teeth sinking into flesh and his markings starting to glow slightly as he heated up.

“Ember! Release!” I shouted, grabbing him around the neck; he cooled immediately and released the hand.

My father was remarkably calm. “I say he remembers me,” he chuckled, his voice holding pain. “He would always nip at me when he was a pup. He never liked me.”

Aloron led Elyosius to sit then hurried away into the night. He came back with a bag and started pulling out medical supplies. First, he washed the wounds, then spread Raysiam over the teeth marks. My father grimaced.

“Ouch,” he said weakly.

“Well that’s what you get for sticking your hand in front of a Kindle Wolf with a bone,” Aloron scolded, wrapping bandages around the injured hand.

“He never does that,” I said, then, to prove my point, took the bone from Ember, who had started chewing on it again.

“You could take anything from him and he wouldn’t do that,” Elthinor pointed out.

I frowned. “Still, he doesn’t do things like that.” I paused then stood and walked over to my father, calling Ember.

“Filynora, it most assuredly is alright,” my father said, looking wary.

“Sit,” I ordered and my pet obeyed.

I took my father’s good hand and slowly moved it towards Ember, who began growling. I pulled it back and he stopped. I did it again, same results. Elthinor was up and beside Ember.

“He didn’t do that for me,” Elthinor said, confused.

“I told you, he doesn’t do that kind of thing. He usually doesn’t bite unless I tell him to or I’m in danger,” I said.

“He never liked me,” Elyosius said, pulling his hand from mine. “Like I said, he would always nip at me when he was a pup. He liked your mother and loved you, but he hated me.”

“Ember, he is my father,” I explained, staring into my Kindle Wolf’s eyes. “You cannot bite him. Or growl at him, for that matter. You don’t have to like him, but please tolerate him.”

I paused and he just stared at me then snorted and looked at Elyosius. I could feel everybody watching us as I took my father’s hand and led it to Ember. He didn’t growl. I bumped the hand up against his nose. He sniffed it, considering, then licked it once and went back to his bone. Silence reigned. I looked around and saw that a couple of the audience I had was slack jawed, including my father.

“How in the world did you do that?” he asked incredulously.

“Elementals just listen to her,” Elthinor said then looked at our friends. “Remember what happened with the Mngwa?”

“What is the Mngwa?” Aloron asked.

My father answered him. “One of the Dark Ones. A tiger as big as a horse. He can control animals and Elementals with his mind.”

“Could,” I said. “He’s quite dead now.”

“You killed him?” he asked in shock.

“Yes.”

“How?”

“My Elementals helped me.”

“But the Elementals would listen to the Mngwa!”

“That’s the funny thing,” Valtrak said slowly. “When she ordered them to stop, they stopped. Their eyes were still red, but they listened to her, not the beast.”

“Interesting,” Aloron said and everybody stared at me.

“We should be getting to bed soon,” I said, looking at my Ember.

Aloron and Elyosius bid us goodnight while the rest of us spread out our bedrolls. I pretended to go to sleep right away, Ember at my side, and listened to my friends whisper about how interesting I was. I would have used the word freak, I thought as I began drifting off to sleep, or Strangeling. After that, I was asleep.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Am-Life-Three-Scrolls-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B01A04N30O?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0

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I Am the Life: Chapter 26

We were nearly to Greensage, with no real complications, when we heard screaming. I immediately broke away from the mass of soldiers and sprinted in the direction of the screams. My friends followed me—I could hear them behind me—and Lolaiken called a halt. I scrambled to the top of the hill, and froze at what I found. It was a group of Humans attempting to fight off a few Aswangs. So Tikujar and Rattuin hadn’t been the only ones. I looked up to verify, and it was true: there were thick clouds covering the sun. I was about to charge down there when I saw somebody I recognized. I relaxed and sat down. Elthinor poked me, confused.

“Aren’t we going to help?” he asked.

“No,” I said simply.

“Why not?” Valtrak asked.

“I don’t like them.”

“Filynora, that’s ridiculous! I don’t like Dwarves, yet I would save them,” Gabrithon said.

“They hurt me,” I growled.

“Wait a minute,” Elthinor said slowly. “Are they your-”

“Why are you just standing there?” Lolaiken asked; we hadn’t heard him and some of his Elven soldiers approach. “Attack!”

I snarled. “Fine.”

I stood and grabbed my bow and an arrow. I aimed for the one lunging for Tynan’s head, firing swiftly. The arrow went through her wing and she shrieked in pain. She turned to glare at me then realized who I was and let out a howl, shooting straight towards me. I fired again, catching her cheek. She ignored the arrow and I glanced at Valtrak who met my gaze with a nod then I ducked. As she grabbed me, there was a rush of air above me and something fell to the ground and rolled down the side of the hill. I shoved her body off me before blood could get on me, and before it disintegrated. Blood exploded across the grass and killed it off, more than it was in the summer heat, then disappeared with a puff of smoke.

Tynan was staring up at me, pure disbelief on his face. I ignored him and hurried down the hill, my friends and the Elves following me. We drove back the creatures, killing several more before the rest shrieked and scattered. When the battle was over we turned to the Humans. Jaiden was helping Tynan to his feet while the rest of the villagers huddled together, staring wide-eyed at my friends, namely Gabrithon, Pinnathir, and Valtrak. Tynan walked over to me, eying my three friends warily. He stopped in front of me and snickered.

“Well, well, well,” he said lazily. “The freak is still alive.”

“You must be Tynan,” Elthinor said; up to this point, none of the Humans had been afraid of the Elves.

“Why she’s told you about me?” he asked with a laugh. “Poor stupid Filynora.”

Elthinor grabbed Tynan roughly and shoved him back. “You know, Tynan. You really shouldn’t make an Elf mad.”

“You’re no Elf! Just look at those pretty little painted on designs.”

“Funny, Filynora thought they were paint, too, when we first met.”

“Of course it’s just paint,” Tynan said, starting to sound a little nervous.

“Touch it.”

He reached out then I saw his eyes lock onto Elthinor’s; there is no way an Elf’s eyes can be mistaken for Human, what with the two colors. He gave a yell and launched himself backwards, right into Lolaiken. He raced back to the Humans while my friends and I laughed at him. There was whispering amongst the Humans and suddenly they looked even more scared than they had been before.

“Why are you here?” I asked, moving closer to the huddle. “Why aren’t you back in Paxtonvale?”

Tynan’s face was pale, but he did answer. “Paxtonvale was destroyed in the night by some dark creatures. We’re all that’s left. The traders came by and gave us some news that there is a place where an army is being formed to fight off the creatures.”

“Well it just so happens that we’re headed to that very place,” Valtrak said, leaning on Gabrithon’s leg.

“You are?” Ackley asked; of course he’d survived, too.

“Yes. In fact, that’s why there are so many Elves with us, detestable as they are,” Pinnathir said, winking at Elthinor. “We’re gathering forces for war, forces from all the different races.”

“What are you?” a girl asked suddenly.

“I’m a Satyr,” he replied.

“Um, what’s that?”

“You’re looking at it.”

They stared at each other for a few moments, then she quickly hid behind Tynan, shying away. Tynan stepped forward bravely to protect her from what they perceived to be a monster. I stepped in front of Pinnathir and narrowed my eyes at my bully. Most of the younger villagers laughed, Tynan included.

“You’re not going to have your big, scary friends take care of me?”

“You’re a jerk,” I said evenly.

His face grew red. “Shut up, girlie.

Anger bubbled up inside me, nice and hot. I didn’t try and stop my face and eyes from changing. Tynan jolted and stared at me, then looked around at the Elves.

“So, you’re a red-eyed, devil freak because you’re part Elf, right?”

“Yes. Now, if you’re coming to Greensage, get in line with the Elves. If you’re not, go away and live a useless life, got it?”

I didn’t wait for a response, turning and hurrying up the hill. I was so angry at finding him. Why did Tynan have to survive the attack, just to find me? Is this some kind of sick joke? I asked God. Tynan is so mean! Why couldn’t you just strike him down? He deserves it! I got no response. I actually had half expected one. I stood there and watched as everybody down in the valley, the Humans included, started walking up the hill. I huffed and walked back to the Elves, standing there with my arms crossed. The Elves watched me curiously. I realized that most of them hadn’t seen my designs, but I didn’t feel like showing them off. A hand touched me, and I spun around, ready to slug the self-centered jerk…Oh, it was Elthinor. He looked shocked and took a step back.

“Relax, Fily,” he said, putting his hands up.

“Sorry,” I muttered as Tynan passed us, laughing at my actions; a fresh wave of anger washed over me.

“Filynora, why does he bother you so?” Gabrithon asked.

“He has intimidated me, hurt me, and humiliated me all my life. I hate him.”

Jaiden spoke up. “Do you really think God would want you to hate him?”

“Yes!” I spat.

“Now Fily,” my Human friend scolded. “You’re breaking the second commandment! You’re making God suit your agenda! That’s not the way it’s supposed to be.”

“Shut up, Jaiden,” I growled.

He did, though I could see how right he was. I didn’t want to forgive Tynan or be his friend, for that matter. With our past, how could they blame me? I didn’t respond to any of the conversation starters or questions my friends threw my way. When Greensage was in sight, I suddenly had the overwhelming urge to see Ember. I hated that he couldn’t come with us, but it would have been hard to keep him with us the whole time. I took off at a run, passing the king, who jerked in surprise, and making my friends take off with me. Despite all of their time with me, Pinnathir and Valtrak fell behind quickly. Jaiden hadn’t stood a chance. But Elthinor and Gabrithon stayed with me, I slowed near the town and they ran up to stop beside me, panting heavily. I was winded, but less than they were. I started walking and they fell into step with me.

“What was that about?” Elthinor asked as we began passing tents; Dwarves walking around began nodding in greeting.

“I want my Ember.”

“Oh,” Gabrithon said. “I didn’t think about him. He’s probably really missed you.”

We hurried to the Elemental pens and there was Ember, still tied up to the pole I had left him at. He was a good boy. I rushed over to him and knelt down. He was sleeping so I stuck the back of my hand up to his nose. He breathed in and his eyes flew open. He let out a barking howl and pinned me to the ground and licked my face all over. Elthinor and Gabrithon laughed and Elthinor went to pet him. Ember jerked his head up and looked Elthinor up and down. Then he flamed up, the rope around his neck burning off, and pounced on him, licking his face all over. Elthinor gasped and moved his head back and forth, trying to get away from him, but it was to no avail. Gabrithon knelt down and whistled softly. Ember hurried away from Elthinor and placed his front paws on my Centaurian friend’s chest then licked his face.

“He likes me,” Elthinor said with a smile, wiping his face and standing up.

“Of course he does. He knows you,” I said with a smile.

“Shouldn’t we go and meet the Elf king?” my Elven friend asked. “I mean, it would be the right thing to do.”

“Fine. But I’m not going to deal with Tynan.”

“You don’t have to. I’ll deal with him for you if you really want me to.”

“I-I don’t know,” I said as he helped me up. “That might make things worse.”

Elthinor shrugged. “It was just a suggestion.”

Gabrithon stood up and Ember dropped down and came to my side. I pet his head, scratching behind his ear, and he barked happily, wagging his tail. We walked to the place we had come into the camps around Greensage, which by this point was technically a part of Greensage, and got there in time to meet Aloron, my father, and the Dwarf king, along with a Human man I’d never seen before. He nodded at me.

“Filynora!” my father exclaimed, embracing me.

“Father,” I replied, squeezing him back.

“How are you, my dear girl?”

“I could be better,” I answered honestly.

“Tired?”

“Not really.”

“Then what ails you?”

“Tynan.”

Elyosius looked thoughtfully. “I seem to remember one of the village boys named Tynan.”

“Good memory,” I said dryly.

“Well I’m sure if you want to marry him, I could-”

“No!” I yelled. “I wouldn’t marry him if my life depended on it! He’s a jerk and a bully, and made my life miserable every time I went into town! I hate him!”

Both Aloron and Elyosius jolted at the word hate.

“Now Filynora, God does not want you to hate anything but what He hates, and He does not hate Tynan,” my father said, Aloron nodding along with what he said.

“Why not?” I demanded.

“Because…” Elyosius’ face scrunched up. After a moment he found the thought he’d been looking for. “Because He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.”

“He’s not dying.” I paused then palmed my sword. “Yet.”

“Filynora,” Aloron sighed. “He does not hate anybody, as far as I know.”

“What about the fallen angels and Lucifer?” I asked.

“Who?”

“And besides that, He hates sin doesn’t He?”

“Then shouldn’t He hate all of us, because we’re all sinners?” Gabrithon asked suddenly then added, “You know, if I believed in any of that.”

I couldn’t answer. He had a good point. Yet Jesiah had told me he loved me…How was that possible?

“There is an answer to all of this, but I cannot remember it. It has something to do with grace. Let me think a moment.” He walked away and stood there pondering the subject.

He was still thinking when Lolaiken got to us. He was introduced to Jairus, the Human male that I hadn’t met before. I had seen him around though, and he had been elected the leader of Greensage; when I asked, they said that they just hadn’t appointed a new leader since the last one had died childless.

“And this little Dwarf is?” Lolaiken asked.

“He’s not little!” Valtrak snapped. “He’s actually pretty tall for our kind.”

“That’s not saying much,” Gabrithon teased.

“Mule.”

“Stonehead.”

“I am Korvict, king of the Dwarves. You are?”

“Lolaiken, king of the Elves.”

“It is a pleasure. I hope to work well with you.”

“Well, you’re not a Satyr.”

“And you’re not a Centaur.”

“Aha!” my father suddenly exclaimed.

“Grace! Common and saving,” he said happily. “In a way He does love everybody, because he visits common grace upon all those living.”

“Common grace?” Lolaiken asked.

“Yes! You know, the sunrise, the rain, the seasons, things like that. That’s common grace. He gives good things to all.”

“But…?” I asked.

“But He doesn’t love the wicked. Saving grace is that which God gives only to those He has chosen to redeem.”

“So I can hate Tynan?”

“No. You are to love your neighbor as yourself.”

“That’s not in the Ten Commandments,” Jaiden said; the other three had waited for the group.

“But I distinctly remember a story that my mother told me. It was an expert on the religious law who tried to trap Jesiah with this question: Which is the most important commandment in the law of Mioshye? Jesiah answered: This is the first and greatest. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. The second is equally important. Love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the demands of the prophets come from these two commandments.”

“How do you know your mother was right, Elyosius?”

“We were keepers of the truth!” my father exclaimed, starting to look angry. “The Dark Ones killed off the rest of my family and friends. Everybody was dead but me! It is a miracle I remember these stories at all!”

“Well what gives a bunch of Elves the right to say you know all of these stories that are probably not true?” Jaiden asked.

“But there weren’t just Elves,” I said.

Aloron paused. “What do you mean?”

“Father told me that they were ‘mismatched people from every race.'”

“Wait a moment…You were the little Elf boy!” Aloron exclaimed joyously. “Your group gave us the clue to finding the first scroll!”

“We did?” Elyosius asked. “Hm. I suppose we did. I couldn’t pronounce the name of the Elven town we stopped in. My mother said to remember it sounds like ten…no eleven deer. But I do remember your black and red eyes. I had never seen the combination of those colors before. It reminded me of those Vampires that hunted us in the night. ‘That’s why you keep the fire burning hot and bright every night, son,’ mother used to say. ‘They’ll get you if you don’t.'”

“We must talk! You’re group told many, many stories about many different things. But they promised they were all connected. You must tell me all you remember,” Aloron said excitedly, grabbing my father’s arm.

“If you wish it,” father said with a nod.

“Do these stories you speak of have to do with the scrolls and their stories?” Korvict asked.

“As Aloron said, they are all connected.”

“Then I believe I would like to hear these stories,” Lolaiken said.

“Aye,” Korvict agreed.

“Have your Elves settle where they wish, but warn them to keep fires burning,” Jairus said. “There have been attacks recently.”

“Shattered-eyes!” I shouted and everybody looked at me. “Tell everybody, Human, Dwarf, and Elf, to start looking in the eyes of strangers. If they are shattered-eyed, kill them. Cut off their head or plunge a blade through their heart.”

“But Filynora, shattered-eyes are-” Aloron began.

“Old friend, they are not what they appear to be. They are shape shifters,” the Elven king replied. “They have been the cause for our hatred of the Satyrs, and have provoked all the wars.”

Aloron narrowed his eyes. “Then dead they shall be. What name do we call these new beasts?”

“Rakshasa, Grandfather,” Elthinor said with a nod.

“Rakshasa it is then. I shall spread the word amongst the former slaves.”

“Father?” I asked as everybody began to disperse. “Do you know a Faun named Eilidh and a Satyr named Onarir?”

“Why yes, but Onarir is dead.”

“What about Eilidh?”

“She is alive and well. Do you wish to meet her?”

“Yes.”

“Then let’s go. I’d like to show you how the training is going anyway.”

 

https://www.amazon.com/Am-Life-Three-Scrolls-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B01A04N30O?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0

I Am the Life: Chapter 25

“Where are Elthinor and Jaiden?” Lolaiken asked as we gathered in the throne room.

“Elthinor was spending time with his family,” I replied. “Jaiden went with your son to go get him.”

“Very good. As you know, we leave out tomorrow. I have noticed a conspicuous lack of weaponry, swords in particular. I had our smiths forge three swords.”

“They’ll be relieved, I’m sure,” Valtrak said.

“My good Dwarf,” the king said curiously. “What is the thing you use as a weapon?”

“A double bladed axe, your majesty.”

“Is that normal for your kind?”

“Of course. The average Dwarf is gifted an axe by his relatives by the age of thirteen. Just in case we run into any mules.”

“Mules?”

“Centaurs,” Elthinor said, looking a little too cheery as he walked up. “He calls Gabrithon a mule because they pick on each other.”

“Are you alright?” I asked suspiciously.

“Just fine,” my Elven friend said with a too-big smile.

“His father was pushing him around. He even got slapped,” Lochanor said with a shake of his head.

I pressed my lips together tightly. “Elthinor…”

“It was nothing, Fily, I promise.”

“It’s not nothing Elthinor,” I said, looking down at the ground. I hated how Gilronin was acting.

He reached over and placed a hand on my shoulder. “Fily, I-” he started.

“The king had a sword made for you,” I cut in, turning my back to him.

“Really?” he asked excitedly then frowned. “Fily what do you expect me to do? He’s my father.”

“Yes, he is, but you’re not a little boy any more. You’re an Elf in your own right.”

His face turned red around his designs. “You really think so?”

“I certainly think so, young one,” Lolaiken said. “You’ve done things most Elves never think of and that few would dare to do. Besides, you conduct yourself in a very Elfly manner. I’d say you’re more of an Elf than your father is.”

Elthinor looked nothing short of delighted. He laughed and spun me around happily then actually kissed my cheek. I gasped and pressed my hand to the spot he had kissed, shocked. He’d never done anything like that before, and it made my stomach tighten. He calmed down when he saw the look on my face and smiled.

“Sorry, Fily. I didn’t think before I did that,” he said apologetically.

“Oh, that’s alright,” I said, lowering my hand. As soon as the looks appeared on the faces of all the males, I grew angry. “Stop laughing! I can’t control my blush! Besides it’s not funny.”

“It is a little funny,” Pinnathir said, shrugging with an amused smile.

I harrumphed and spun around, storming outside and sitting beside where Gabrithon was standing.

“Fily? What’s the matter?” he asked, kneeling down.

“They’re all laughing at me,” I pouted.

“About?”

I hesitated then showed him my face; I could feel it was still warm. He blinked and smiled just like Pinnathir had. I growled, lowering my head back down. He chuckled.

“Fily, we can’t help it.”

“You can help it,” I asserted. “You just choose not to. Anyways, they got new swords.”

“That’s useful. Jaiden’s made great strides training with the Elven guards. He’s good enough for a sword now, I believe.”

“The training methods the Elves use are very efficient. He had hardly made any progress before we got here,” I admitted.

“Elthinor told me they were developed in times of great war. When they were still fighting the Satyrs, that is,” Gabrithon explained.

I hummed in response and we just sat there, or knelt there in Gabrithon’s case, and watched the Elves milling about. It was nice to sit in silence and just bask in each other’s company. It took an hour for the others to come out, and they quickly walked over to us. Elthinor and Jaiden each had a sword belted on their waists and Pinnathir was carrying his.

“I need a belt. I was in there talking with the leather worker, explaining how my belt needed to be formed,” he explained.

“So that’s why you took so long,” I said, looking up at them.

“Yes,” Elthinor said. “That and we were discussing our departure tomorrow.”

“Is everything in order?”

“Yes. We just need to go pack our bags. I suggest we do it now. The king is bringing out some crystals so we each can pack some.”

I nodded. “Very well then. Let’s go do it.”

We packed up quickly and spent the rest of the day practicing our sword fighting. Jaiden had improved greatly and could actually hold his own against me, though he was a little awkward at first. I didn’t blame him; it was his first time with a real sword. We went to sleep early and got up early, too. We hurried outside the gate to where we would be meeting to see the king and the prince and a few Elves grouped together here and there. Lochanor noticed us first.

“Hail Filynora,” he said, sounding more respectful than he had the day before.

“Hail,” I said. “What changed in your attitude?”

“Well, I’ve been thinking about those stories Elthinor told. I must ask you, and please answer me honestly, did you do all that?”

“All what?”

“About you killing an Aswang and Vampires and all those other monsters,” he said, his eyes locked on mine.

Instead of answering him verbally, I shrugged my pack off and carefully pulled down my shirt to reveal my shoulder scar. The prince reached for it as if to touch it, but Elthinor snatched his hand and threw it back towards his body. He stood protectively in front of me.

“I would keep in mind, my prince, that she is, in fact a girl, and that touching here anywhere near there is quite inappropriate.”

“Oh! You are quite right! I ask that both of you forgive me,” he said quickly, holding up his hands and backing up a little bit.

I stared at him. Everything had happened so fast that I hadn’t had time to think. Elthinor was right, of course, but I hadn’t thought of it that way; I had been willing to let him touch the scars. Realizing that Elthinor was waiting for me to forgive him—or not—first, I fixed my shirt and smiled.

“I forgive you.”

“Then I forgive you, too,” Elthinor said. “But don’t let it happen again.”

Lochanor nodded then walked away, probably thinking he would just get into more trouble being around me. Elthinor turned to look at me, his demeanor softening.

“Filynora, I need you to keep that in mind, too.”

“What?” I asked.

“That you are a girl,” he said softly, taking my hands in his. “You can’t just do things like that. There is such a thing as propriety.”

My cheeks flushed, and I opened my mouth to give a snide comment about him and Gabrithon having seen me shirtless. Before I could, Lolaiken came up to us. He arched an eyebrow when he saw my face.

“Am I interrupting something?” he asked.

“No,” I said through clenched teeth, jerking my hands out of Elthinor’s.

He looked surprised. “Filynora, I’m just looking out for you.”

“And besides that, he’s got a good point,” Valtrak said, coming over to place his hand on the back of my hand.

I didn’t answer. I knew they were both right, but I didn’t need them to remind me that I was a girl. I hated that fact enough already. Instead of mentioning that little fact, I turned to the king and made my face pleasant.

“May I help you, your majesty?”

“I was just coming over to see what made my son leave so quickly.”

“It was a small matter that we have taken care of. Please don’t worry about it,” Elthinor said with a low bow.

“If you insist,” Lolaiken said, nodding his head. “Now I hope you are ready to go?”

“Yes,” my Elven friend replied.

“Your majesty?” Valtrak asked. “I would like to personally thank you for the crystals you’ve given us. Many of them have the potential to become gorgeous gems. You have given up very valuable things for me. You weren’t obligated to do that.” He paused. “Do you have multiple gems for your sword? I notice that you have a blue sapphire in there now instead of the amethyst I ate.”

The king smiled. “Yes. We do indeed have many gems for my sword. This one has a snugger fit than the other one, for which I am glad. We have a hard war against them, don’t we?”

“Yes, we do,” Pinnathir said as he and Jaiden walked up; they had been getting Pinnathir’s new belt for his sword. “They are hard to fight, and the stronger they get, the trickier they are.”

The king nodded, then looked around, frowning. “I do hope that more Elves show up.”

“You said we would be fighting with Satyrs, father,” Lochanor said; Elthinor gave him a sharp look, but the Elven prince continued. “I know I find that unappealing. Others will, too.”

“Well, even if we don’t get many out of this city, I’ve sent runners to every Elven village, town, and city. With the full message, mind you, so they should be more eager to help.”

Only two thousand Elves gathered on the grass, plus many to see them off. When Melanari came up to me, I thought she was just here to say goodbye, but Gilronin and Selaniam came forward, too. They looked like they were dressed to travel.

“Are you coming with us?”

“The king said he needed female Elves to come, too, in his written announcement,” Selaniam said, embracing me.

“I think it’s ridiculous, sending a female into battle,” Gilronin groused.

“But father,” Melanari protested. “Filynora goes to battle all the time.”

“She’s not natural.”

That one stung. Elthinor looked upset.

“Father, leave her alone. She’s just fine the way she is.”

Gilronin grabbed his son’s arm. “I didn’t ask you. She’s nothing but a freak, and I still cannot believe you travel with her.”

Elthinor got really red and his designs stopped shimmering. He jerked his arm out of the older Elf’s grip and stood tall.

“You are just a bitter old Elf who has nothing better to do than to insult people and order them around. Grandfather took quite a bit from you and said nothing, but I can’t stand it anymore! You’re mean, and you only get joy from bringing other people down. I’m a Follower of Jesiah. So are most of my friends. And Filynora is an amazing girl for whom I’d give my life. Yes we’re different, but that doesn’t mean that you have to keep hounding us about it. Now, if you’re just going to act like you usually do, I suggest you let mother and Melanari come with us while you go back into that city alone. Dare I say, that’s where you belong, what with the way you act.”

There was silence after Elthinor had finished. He was glaring at Gilronin intently. His father looked surprised, staring wide-eyed at him. Gilronin slowly blinked then crossed his arms and narrowed his eyes.

“Is that so, young Elf?” he asked, mocking. “Well if I’m staying, then your mother and sister are staying, too.”

He was about to grab their hands and drag them towards the city when some Elf cleared his throat. When Gilronin dropped into a bow, and the two females into a curtsy, I knew who it was. I turned to look anyway, and it was indeed the king.

“You are Gilronin,” Lolaiken said as they all straightened.

“Yes, your majesty.”

“You shall let them come with us, if that is what they wish. Maybe that will teach you the lesson your son’s speech was meant to.”

Gilronin looked angry, but he quickly resigned. “Yes, sire.”

“I’m not going anywhere without my husband,” Selaniam said. “Now if you’ll excuse us, your majesty. Come along Melanari.”

But the young Elf girl didn’t move. “I want to go with them.”

The two Elves jerked around and stared at her.

“Melanari, sweetheart, what do you mean?” Selaniam asked.

“I mean just what I said. I want to go with them.”

“But you’re too young,” Gilronin asserted.

“I’m fifteen,” Melanari said defensively. “That’s how old Filynora was when she was at our house the first time.”

“But you’re different than she is,” Elthinor said.

“I’m coming. The king said I could, didn’t you?” she asked, turning to look at Lolaiken.

“I did. But if you do come, you mustn’t complain about the long distances we will travel. And you must actually do something once we get to Greensage.”

“I will. I’m good at cooking and sewing.”

“Then I see no reason why you shouldn’t come. Get ready to go.”

“I’m already ready,” Melanari said happily.

The king nodded then walked away, and Melanari was given a tearful goodbye by her parents. Then they left. Melanari stood with us, but she didn’t join in any conversation. She seemed content to just listen. About half an hour later, the king sent messengers out to proclaim the news about the creatures wanting to attack them. That caused a stir, but there was no time for one. We started out, the Elves marching.

“You ready?” I asked Melanari.

“I guess so,” she replied.

“Well, there’s no going back now.”

“I know.”

 

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I Am the Life: Chapter 24

“Good. Then it is decided,” Lolaiken said as he stood.

Relief flooded through me. The long debates were over. The Elves would help us. Now all that was left to do was to tell everybody. We stood and hurried outside to meet Gabrithon, who had been kneeling at the window. He’d still participated, and occasionally had said wise things that had flipped the discussions around. Gabrithon finished stretching then placed a hand on my shoulder and smiled at me.

“Well, that was an interesting experience,” he said as we began following the council out.

“What was?” I asked.

“Oh, the whole thing where we discussed whether or not to go to war.”

“Don’t Centaurs do that when it comes to Dwarves?”

“They live underground Filynora. We can’t go to war with them unless they’re marching. And at that point it’s a split second decision, and our mentality is ‘Kill all Dwarves!’ so the answer to your question is a regrettable ‘no.'”

“We have such talks,” Valtrak said from the other side of the Centaur. “And the answer is usually ‘no.’ We don’t wish to needlessly die. Though we do have the same approach. ‘Kill all Centaurs!’ as it were. I’m rather glad I didn’t listen to the rules for you, mule.”

“Stonehead,” Gabrithon said affectionately, though he realized what he’d done after a second and tried to wave it off. “Ridiculous nonsense,” he spat. “Don’t know what I was thinking.”

My Dwarvish friend and I both laughed and then headed up the stairs to the large landing at the top. Gabrithon had stopped following and we both paused and looked back. He held his hands behind his back and gazed up at us. Valtrak took a couple steps down and held out his hand.

“Well, come on!”

“The king didn’t say he wanted all of us up there,” Gabrithon said, eying the stairs distrustfully.

“Come Centaur!” Lolaiken called as if on cue.

“Gabrithon, why do you never come up? You could stand right outside the door instead of down in the square. Then the Elves would bother you less,” Valtrak said, taking another two steps down.

“I just, well, I don’t like stairs,” he admitted, defeat evident in the slump of his shoulders.

“Why not?”

“Look at me, Valtrak!” Gabrithon exclaimed, throwing his arms out wide. “I’m a Centaur. My front half is heavier than my back half! I’m afraid of hurting myself coming down the stairs.”

“Well if you go down slowly enough, you won’t fall. And I’ll walk with you if it makes you feel any better,” Valtrak said, patting his friend on the leg.

Gabrithon looked down worriedly, but slowly started to make his way up to stand beside our friends. By now a crowd had gathered, but it didn’t seem like there were enough Elves present. He raised his hand and brought it down and a blasting noise came from high set windows in the palace behind us. I jumped horribly and Elthinor grabbed me to steady me.

“What was that?” I gasped.

“A horn. It signals that the king has important news,” he replied. “Here comes another one.”

The second wasn’t nearly as jolting as the first, but it was just as loud. Two more sounded out then silence reigned. The crowd had greatly increased, Elves pressing close together to fill in all the available space. There were runoffs into the smaller streets. There was the buzz of conversation from those assembled until the king raised both hands. The silence that followed was by no means complete because of the sheer number of Elves present, but everybody was clearly eager to listen.

“My subjects,” Lolaiken boomed. “I have much news. First, I am horrified to say we have been tricked.” There was a stirring in the crowd. “We have not just been tricked, but generations of Elves have been tricked, too.” A ripple of murmurs sounded out. “Those shattered-eyes were not Elves. They were beasts called Rakshasa, and they are just a small fraction of the true enemy we should have been facing all along. We have been in council for over a month now, and we have decided what we should do.” He paused. “We are going to go to war with these Dark Ones.”

The noise level shot up so fast that my hands twitched as I almost went to cover my ears. The king simply stood there and scanned the crowd. After a minute or two, he held up his hands, and the near-silence fell again.

“There’s more you need to know. Not only are we going to war with these Dark Ones, we will be fighting alongside other races as well. So far there are only Humans and Dwarves who are willing to fight for this. But as we speak, the princess of the Satyrs, and a good friend of this group up here with me, is trying to convince the Satyrs that fighting with us, not against us, is the better option.”

If I thought it had been loud before, it was nothing compared to the explosion of sound that took place now. I thought that the Elves would sprint up the stairs to kill me and my friends. They were not in favor of fighting with the Satyrs on their side. Lolaiken did not look surprised, but held up his hands again. This time the near-silence wasn’t instant. It took five minutes to get them quiet again and even then, there was a grumbling amongst the assembled Elves.

“Please, I know the idea sounds unappealing, but the shattered-eye Rakshasa tricked us, tricked us into attacking the Satyrs. And the Satyrs had their own shattered-eyes, who tricked them into attacking us! I expect you to do what is best for our race.”

The king turned to leave, and I grabbed his arm. He looked at me with raised eyebrows. “Yes?” he asked.

“Are you going to tell them about the threat to the Elves?”

“I was planning on announcing that when we leave out. That way I can know how many trust me. The others may join us later on, as I believe many will from the other Elven cities.”

“Oh. Very well then,” I said with a bow, and he turned and went inside.

We had to wait several hours for the square to clear out before we could go back to the stable we were staying in. We all looked at Gabrithon when we were about to head down the stairs. He started out slowly, obviously having a little trouble. He stayed steady with Valtrak, who was beside him, encouraging him softly. He was going a little faster than he had been when he’d started, but he was no worse off from it. We hurried to the stable and, once we were all inside, Jaiden shut the door and visibly relaxed.

“Well, that whole process had fewer headaches than the Dwarvish one,” he said, rubbing his temples.

“Maybe not, but it was just as tricky. Elves don’t like Satyrs any more than Dwarves like Centaurs,” Valtrak said with a nod. “But so far, both of the kings we have on our side seem to understand that the others are not to blame.”

“My father will not be so easy to persuade,” Gabrithon said, lowering himself to his belly. “He is set against Dwarves, wanting every one of them dead. He is a tough stallion.”

“I can only hope Laetitia is faring just as well as we are,” Pinnathir said, perching himself on one of the closed doors of an unoccupied stall. “She does have a lot of influence, but her father, my king, is quite stubborn. And he loathes Elves.”

“I know. He never even tried to talk civilly around me,” Elthinor said.

“I think he knew that I was half-Elf. He was never kind to me either,” I said.

“He hasn’t been happy for seven years,” Pinnathir said. “Not since his youngest two children were killed by somebody,  Elves or, more likely Rakshasa. He lost a son and a daughter. They were twins and were only nine years old at the time.”

We all stared at him. “He had two other children?” I asked.

“Yes. They were both taken outside the city while playing in the lake. Blood coated the ground in front of the lake, and their bodies were never found. It’s the reason he never lets Zaharra or Laetitia swim.”

“What were their names?” Jaiden asked, an idea in his voice.

“Eilidh was the girl, Onarir was the boy. They would be sixteen. You’ll never guess how you spell her name.” After a long pause in which we all stared at him, he grinned and spelled it out.

“That doesn’t make sense,” Elthinor said while I shrugged off the spelling; it made no difference as I could not read or write. “And you’re sure it’s pronounced ‘Ay-lee,’ right?”

“Yes,” Pinnathir said. “It’s an old way of spelling it.

“How old are Zaharra and Laetitia?” I asked, interrupting Jaiden as he began to speak. He frowned, but let Pinnathir answer me.

“Laetitia is seventeen, Zaharra is twenty. Now what were you going to say, Jaiden?”

“If they never found their bodies, isn’t there a possibility that they could be alive?”

Pinnathir hopped down and walked up close to Jaiden, narrowing his eyes. “Well, there is. But makes you think they could be?”

“They tend to capture, not kill, unless they’re trying to provoke one race with another,” our Human friend said. “They want slaves.”

“Maybe that means they were amongst the slaves that came with us from the Dark Ones,” Gabrithon said, looking down at my pack and moving his fingers against the dirt as if to grab it.

I snickered softly and dug out a piece of venison jerky out of my back. Handing it to him, I met his eyes and smiled.

“Good point. We’ll check when we get back. And Gabrithon? You just have to ask,” I said gently.

“I wish I could reach the ground,” he said with a sigh, abruptly standing up and trotting over to the far end of the stable. He chomped on the jerky. “We’re just not built to do any of that!” he burst out. “If your God exists, why did he make my kind not able to reach the ground?”

Pinnathir snorted. “You think you have it bad. At least you run like a horse. I cannot sit on one comfortably. I must walk everywhere.”

I opened my mouth to reply, but this time Jaiden interrupted me. “Now, now,” he said. “God made each of us just the way we are. Should the clay tell the potter that he is wrong in making him a certain way?”

They both looked at him and Gabrithon sighed. “You have an excellent point. You know, if this God of your does exist,” he repeated.

“I pray that you’ll come to believe,” I said quietly.

“When?”

“What?”

“When do you pray for me? I never see you pray.”

“Oh, I-I just…” I trailed off and bit my bottom lip. “I do pray, but just when I remember it, which isn’t very often honestly.”

“What about you, Elthinor?” Gabrithon asked.

“I pray every night before I go to bed as I stare up at the stars,” came the reply.

“Valtrak?”

“I don’t really know what praying is. Nobody ever explained it to me.”

“Jaiden?”

“I talked to Aloron and he told me about it. I pray every single day and read the scrolls when I get the chance in our busy lives. Once we settle down after the war, and if I’m still alive, I hope we can get the other scriptures from Oidynhall.”

“That would be interesting,” Elthinor said.

They launched into a conversation of what could be there while Gabrithon stared at me. His eyes were intense. He walked over and knelt down beside me.

“If you really believe, you will do what you say you do,” he said then left it at that.

 

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I Am the Life: Chapter 23

I awoke and stared at the wooden crossbeams of the stable. It was the only building that Gabrithon could fit in. Besides that, the floor was dirt, so both Gabrithon and Pinnathir could easily walk on it. When I had suggested the stable, the king had vehemently opposed the idea. That was, he opposed it until I asked if he had another idea. Then he grudgingly consented and had a stable freshly cleaned for us. The days of debate were exhausting, and the noble Elves were still quite snooty to us when we passed through the outer court.

I sat up and stretched, yawning. There was no other movement, so I assumed that I was the only one up. I stood and straightened out my bedroll then padded barefoot out to the wide center of the stable. We had each taken a separate stall to sleep in, and it was actually comfortable; not having your own bed comfortable, but comfortable enough. It was nice sleeping in a building for a change.

I settled down in the middle of the open space and sighed, grabbing my brush out of my bag. I was well rested, and my friends were, too. The meetings with the counsel were going well and were much calmer than the Dwarves had been. I only attended occasionally, too busy searching for Elthinor’s family. Many Elves were reluctant to talk to me when I looked Human, so I usually went out wearing my Elven designs. Most I talked to also asked me why I wore pants. I never answered that question, instead asking them something else.

“Good morning, Filynora,” Valtrak said as he stepped out of the stall he had claimed.

“Morning. Did you sleep well?” I asked, running the brush through my hair.

Valtrak grinned. “Indeed. In fact, you might say I slept like a rock,” he joked.

I laughed softly. “Joking? You are feeling good.”

His grin faded into a soft smile. “I am. Those crystals and gems the king provided have greatly helped. The pain might have possibly been a little worse than I was letting on. It ached sometimes and burned others. It was unpleasant at the least and quite bad at the most.”

“You really shouldn’t lie to us. Maybe we all should start keeping crystals in our packs. You wouldn’t run out so fast.”

“That might actually help. We should stock up before we leave for Greensage.”

“Stock up on what?” Gabrithon asked, clip-clopping his way over to us and lying beside Valtrak.

I hummed. “Crystals,” I answered then abruptly changed the subject. “Why exactly do you two like each other so much now? I mean, is it because you missed Gabrithon, Valtrak?”

Valtrak turned his face away from me as Pinnathir and Elthinor joined us. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I would never miss a mule!”

“I’ll take that as a yes,” I said with a smile. “And you, Gabrithon? Is it because you missed him and he helped to rescue you?”

“No!” Gabrithon balked. “I’m with Valtrak for once. How could I miss an enemy, let alone a stonehead?”

“Another yes,” Elthinor said, reaching for my brush.

I handed it to him, and he began brushing his hair. When he was done with that, he handed the brush back to me then began twisting his hair together into his small braids. It struck me how comfortable we were with each other, what with these little acts of normalcy. Jaiden broke into my thoughts as he walked out of his stall, yawning.

“Hi,” he said, running his fingers through his tangled brown locks.

“Hello,” Pinnathir replied. “Sleep well?”

“Mostly,” Jaiden said evasively.

“Mostly?” I asked.

“I had a bad dream. There were these eyes. They were black where the white should be, white where the color should be, and red where the black should be. It was scary. Then this voice came to me and ordered me to stop you or else. I told him no. There was this searing heat, like I was engulfed in fire, though I couldn’t see any. Then I was jolted awake. After I had fallen back asleep, I didn’t dream for the rest of the night.”

“What an odd dream,” I said, but nobody else responded. They all had haunted looks in their eyes. “What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know about anybody else,” Elthinor said quietly. “But I had that dream after you and I started our journey.”

“I had it after I met you and we had been on the road for a couple weeks,” Gabrithon admitted.

“Mine was a little different. The voice told me to stay away from you when we were still mining. It’s why I stayed distant for so long,” Valtrak added.

“It was while I was imprisoned. He promised my freedom if I would kill you,” Pinnathir said darkly. “And…I-I almost said yes, Filynora. He had me on hallucinogens and the Dark Ones had me thinking I was an assassin. Once I came down from the high, I realized what lies they were.” He paused. “I had to tell you that. I’m sorry.”

I was in shock. Could the Dark Ones actually influence dreams? It seemed so. And whichever Dark One it was—or maybe it was the Dark Master!—they wanted me dead. I had never truly thought about that. They all were sent to capture me at first. Now, it appeared that it was capture, or if you can’t do that, then kill. It was a scary thought. There was a knock on the stable door, and I turned as Elthinor got up and opened it. It was the king.

“Good morning,” he said cheerily. “Are you ready for today’s meeting?”

“Yes sire,” Elthinor said with a bow. Everybody followed suit, including me.

“You may rise,” Lolaiken said with a wave of his hand.

“I think I’m going out to the city again,” I said.

“What are you doing out there?” Elthinor asked; I hadn’t told any of them why I went out into the city when I missed the meeting as I wanted finding Elthinor’s family to be a surprise.

“Just meeting Elves and exploring,” I said, which wasn’t a total lie.

“Oh. Well, don’t get lost,” Elthinor said.

“Come, I have had breakfast brought out to the square for you. Then we shall head over to the meeting hall.”

We ate quickly then I bid them goodbye. I hurried through the streets. When I was an hour into the city, I began questioning Elves. Hours later, several Elves pointed me to one of the survivors of the attack, and I quickly found him. He stared at me intently.

“Weren’t you the Human servant of the Cyzaens?”

“Yes.”

“Why do you look like an Elf then?”

“I’m a half-Elf. But I must know, are the Cyzaens still alive?”

“Yes. They live right next to me.”

“Can you take me to them?”

“Certainly,” he said then began leading me through the streets.

He knocked on the door when we got there, and it opened to reveal Melanari. She glanced at the Elf then her eyes fell on me. Her jaw dropped, and she let out a piercing shriek, diving towards me and embracing me tightly. The noise brought Selaniam and Gilronin to the door.

“Filynora?” Selaniam asked in shock.

“She’s alive! Maybe Elthinor’s alive, too!” Melanari crowed.

“Of course he is,” I said as she released me. “But he doesn’t know if you are alive or not.”

“Well where is he then?” Gilronin demanded.

I didn’t like his tone, but smiled as I replied. “He is discussing matters of war with the king and his counsel.”

There was silence. “Really?” he finally asked.

“Yes. I’m sure he would be delighted if you all cane to see him once he’s done for the day.”

“Of course!” Melanari and Selaniam exclaimed.

“Fine,” Gilronin said, quite unenthused.

They got ready, and we left, moving through the city swiftly. Melanari kept asking questions about her brother, but I just told her to wait and see. I bumped into an Elf and he glanced at me, his face suddenly showing distaste.

“Watch it Human,” he spat.

Anger warmed me, and I triggered my decorations. He yelped and backed up.

“Impossible!”

“I know. Now if you’ll excuse us,” I said coldly, pushing past him and continuing on.

“What did you do dear?” Selaniam asked.

I paused and turned my face towards them. They didn’t say anything, so I turned back around and started walking again. I hoped they were following me.

“Filynora,” Melanari said gently.

“Yes?” I asked.

“You’re interesting.”

“Oh. I-I…Thank you,” I stammered.

We moved in silence and got to the palace just in time. Elthinor was just coming around the corner with Jaiden. Melanari shrieked again and sprinted for her brother. My Elven friend looked up at the noise and let out a cry of his own, hurrying to meet her. Selaniam hurried by me with Gilronin as Elthinor scooped up his sister and spun her around, both of them laughing. I saw my other friends come to stand beside Jaiden, and I was beside them quickly.

“What is going on?” Gabrithon asked.

“Who are they?” Valtrak added.

“The male Elf is Gilronin, the older female is Selaniam, and the younger is Melanari. They are Elthinor’s family,” I replied.

“So that’s what you were doing!” Jaiden exclaimed.

“Yes,” I said with a soft smile. “How did the meeting go?”

“It went well,” he said. “We’re reaching a decision.”

“That’s good. Do you know how much longer? We have already been here for a month.”

“A week at the most,” Gabrithon said with a nod.

“Can we go meet his family?” Pinnathir asked then headed over there without an answer.

The others hurried to catch up, and Valtrak glanced at me uneasily. There could be trouble. Sure enough, when my friends got up to them, Melanari was the first one to notice them. She looked at Gabrithon, then at Valtrak, and finally her eyes landed on Pinnathir. She screamed and jerked backwards. Elthinor whipped around, looking ready to hurt what had made Melanari act like that. When he us, he lowered his fist.

“Melanari, these are my friends,” Elthinor said, turning and grabbing her hand.

“B-but the Satyr!” she gasped.

“You know, I forgot Elves hate me,” Pinnathir said thoughtfully. “All of the counsel has been most kind to me, though it was probably by the king’s orders.”

“You are friends with a Satyr?” Gilronin asked. “That’s almost as ridiculous as those Follower beliefs you dabbled in before you left. I’m glad that nonsense is gone, at least.” Elthinor didn’t respond to that, other than looking down and shuffling his feet. Gilronin pursed his lips. “It is gone, isn’t it son?”

“Not really,” Elthinor finally answered in a small voice.

“Not really?” Gilronin roared. Before he could continue, somebody cleared his throat.

“Your majesty,” Elthinor said, bowing low. His face was burning, so I thought maybe that was another reason he’d bowed.

Everybody bowed, except for the two female Elves. They curtsied. The king waved his hand and bid us to rise.

“So, I see that you’ve found Elthinor’s family,” he said, nodding at the three Elves.

“Yes,” I replied.

“Good. They may stay in the palace so as to be close to you, Elthinor.”

“Great,” Elthinor said unenthusiastically, glancing at his father.

“Now, dinner shall be out here for you in a few minutes. If it pleases the Cyzaens, would you like to dine with me tonight?”

“Oh sire, it would be an honor,” Gilronin said respectfully.

“But we’re not dressed for it,” Selaniam protested.

“Milady, you look beautiful. And your daughter, too,” Lolaiken said. They both flushed.

“Oh, very well then,” Elthinor’s mother said, running her fingers through her hair.

The king gestured for them to follow him then turned and went up the palace steps. Selaniam and Melanari followed immediately, but Gilronin grabbed Elthinor’s upper arm. Elthinor tried to shrug him off, but I saw the grip tighten.

“We are not through discussing this little Follower issue, Elthinor,” he said, then released the boy and hurried to catch up with his wife and daughter.

Elthinor’s face was burning again. He stood there, close to tears. But he wouldn’t cry. Not in front of our friends.

“You can’t let him push you around like that,” Gabrithon said suddenly.

“Doesn’t your father do that to you?” Elthinor spat.

The Centaur’s face softened. “Yes. He does. That’s why you must stand up to him. That’s my advice.”

I smelled the food as the servants began to come down the steps with covered dishes.

“I don’t know if I can, Gabrithon,” Elthinor said softly. “And I don’t want to talk about this right now. Let’s just eat and go to bed.”

Gabrithon dropped it as the food reached us, and we all began to eat in awkward silence.

 

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I Am the Life: Chapter 22

The journey back to Starrydale was much more lenient, but that didn’t make me like it. I was impatient to get started. Elthinor was busy talking with several Elves, trying to find out the latest news on what seemed like everything and introducing them to Jaiden. Valtrak, Gabrithon, and Pinnathir were all staying close together; we were getting funny looks. Pinnathir was now the only Satyr with us. We had done what Jesiah had suggested and sent Laetitia with her father and the other Satyrs, with much instruction from all of us, to represent our side of the argument. I trusted that Jesiah knew what he was doing; it was all I could do. Pinnathir suddenly lurched over and slammed into me, making me gasp.

“Sorry,” he said quickly and righted himself.

“I either tripped over one of my hooves, or somebody else was being mean,” he said, sounding embarrassed.

I heard snickers behind me and turned to glare at the Elves responsible. They were young, somewhere right above twenty, and they outright laughed at my glare.

“Come now, we’re only teasing him,” one said.

“Don’t,” I said angrily. “How would you like to be a single Elf among thousands of Satyrs?”

That shut them up. “I wouldn’t like it at all,” the same one said.

“Then stop teasing him,” I said, then faced forward again.

“Wow. I’ve never heard a girl talk like that before,” one of them whispered.

“Do you think she’s in charge?” another one asked

“Who’d want to follow her?”

Pinnathir jerked around and grabbed the Elf suddenly, making him yell. Every Elf around them had their hands on the hilts of their swords immediately.

“Shut up. She can hear you, you know,” Pinnathir said sharply.

“She can?” an older Elf asked. “I thought Humans had extremely poor hearing, when compared to Elves.”

“I’m not just a Human,” I said irritably. “I am half-Elf, too.”

“That is physically imp-”

“I know it is impossible!” I snapped. “I wish everybody would quit saying that! I happened, therefore it evidently wasn’t entirely impossible and/or, the one I believe, God intervened and made it possible for a reason I still don’t understand.”

With that, I turned around and strode off. Pinnathir caught up with me easily, bounding over in two leaps. Gabrithon and Valtrak had been waiting for us, and they fell into step beside us. We refused to talk to anybody else for until the wall was in sight. I was hailed by the Elf king, and he began to walk with us.

“You and your friends are coming into the palace yes?” he asked.

Pinnathir and Valtrak were already nodding their heads, but I replied differently. “No. We will not.”

“What? Does my palace offend you?”

“In a way, yes it does. Gabrithon cannot fit through the doors, and, even if he could, he and Pinnathir would slip and slide over the floor. It’s polished stone.”

“Oh dear. I didn’t think of that,” Lolaiken said. “Was that a problem the first time you came here?”

I briefly explained the rope incident and Lolaiken looked aghast.

“How dare they?” he demanded. “That was un-Elf-like behavior, Filynora, and I apologize profusely.”

“They won’t be trying it again,” Gabrithon said darkly, rubbing his neck. “I think Filynora scared the will to do it again right out of them.”

The king studied me for a moment. “Interesting. Now, if you’ll pardon me, I must go and prepare for your arrival. I would like you to have a proper reception. I don’t know where you will stay, but I’ll certainly try to find a place.”

“You don’t have to do that,” I said quickly. “We’ll just sleep in our tents.”

“Nonsense,” he said, waving his hand then moved to leave.

I grabbed his arm. “Wait. I have a request.”

“Other than some of the most priceless artifacts we have?” Lolaiken teased. “What is that?”

“An Elven town was recently attacked. Ellavendir is its name. It was leveled to the ground. Are there any survivors?”

“Yes. Many survivors, in fact. Why do you ask?”

“Elthinor’s family lived there. Gilronin, Selaniam, and Melanari. Do you think you can find them for me? It would make Elthinor happy, too.”

He smiled kindly. “Well if it means so much to you, then I’ll certainly look into it.”

“Thank you,” I said then released his arm.

He hurried away and about ten minutes later, the entire crowd almost came to a standstill. They had to file in through that gate, which pretty wide, but there were over five thousand of us. It was going to take a while.

When we finally got into the city, the soldiers were going every which way, finding their ways back to where each was staying. I walked the path that the Elven guards had taken us on that led to the palace, my friends following, and when we arrived we began to slowly make our way through the square. Elves were bustling about so our going was in fits of starts and stops. After we had gotten across, we left Pinnathir and Gabrithon there then headed up the stairs only to be met with glares from the noble Elves. We moved past them and were stopped by the guards.

“Who let you in?” one of them asked.

“We let ourselves in,” I said blandly.

“Hail, my good guards,” Elthinor exclaimed, jumping in front of me and digging in his bag. “We come to see the king over an urgent matter of war. We come in the stead of Aloron Cyzaen.”

“Aloron?” the older guard asked. “I know him. Do you have any proof?”

Elthinor finally managed to get the carving out of his bag and unwrapped it carefully. When the guard reached for it, my friend pulled it back.

“Ah, ah, ah!” he said. “I know that trick.”

The old Elf chuckled. “I wasn’t trying to steal it. I’m trying to see what kind of wood it is.”

Elthinor held it closer to him and let the guard run his fingers over it. “Cherry wood. That’s Aloron’s all right. He was gifted this by the king, and it is Zyronicol’s work. Who are you in relation to him?”

“I am his grandson,” Elthinor said with a smile.

“Really? You didn’t get either one of his colors. Now, I’m sorry to do this, but you have strangers with you. I don’t think I could let them in.”

Elthinor spun to face me. “Filynora, please behave while I’m in there.”

I gave him my usual stare and he dropped his face into one of his hands, sighing heavily. With that, guards let him pass. We stood out there silently, sometimes straining to see what was going on. After walking for as long as we had, our feet were used to it, but we were still tired. Two and a half hours later and I began to wander around the room. The Elves were sort of, to put it kindly, snobby around me. I paused at a hallway and saw flash of movement. After hesitating for a moment, I brought my designs to the surface and hurried down the hall. I turned the corner and found a shadow going across the wall down the hall.

I haphazardly followed it, mainly just exploring it for a little while, but was in no real hurry. I passed open doorways and glanced in to see what I assumed were servants doing various things, like cleaning or talking. I had just gone by one doorway, glancing in to see two Elves in heated conversation, and was almost around the corner when somebody called.

“You! Girl! Come back here!” said a familiar sounding voice.

I backtracked and peeked into the door. The room was spacious, with a plush looking bed in the corner covered in a blue blanket with red roses spattered here and there. The floor was polished black stone covered in a rug of what looked like bear skin. There was a small table beside the bed and a doorway off to the side that went into what looked like a small room. Standing in the middle of this room was Lochanor and Lolaiken.

“Yes?” I asked.

“Son, I already know that Filynora beat you,” the king said exasperatedly. “She told me she did.”

“No I didn’t,” I argued. “Elthinor did.”

“The Elf boy,” Lochanor spat, bringing his fist against his palm.

I pulled my sword and pointed it at him. “Take any thoughts of revenge or hurting him out of your mind. Now.”

I saw him swallow hard and he backed away. The king, who was standing just to the side of me, placed his hand on the flat of the blade and pressed down. I lowered it then, at a severe look from the king, sheathed it.

“Please refrain from acting that way in my presence. I understand that you are young, but I expect you to be mature, especially with you bringing this call to war to me,” he said.

I was shocked. I had never had a male get on to me, not in that manner. It was almost…fatherly. But I had a father.

“Sorry,” I said blankly, unsure of what to feel.

“Apology accepted. Now, what were you doing roaming through my halls?”

“I didn’t expect to find you, if that’s what you implying. I was bored and exploring.”

“Hm. Mind explaining something for me?” Lolaiken asked thoughtfully.

“Depends on what it is,” I answered honestly.

“Why, or how, do you look like an Elf?”

“My father is an Elf. My mother was a Human,” I replied with a shrug. “And please don’t say that it’s impossible. Everybody does, but I’m here, aren’t I?”

“You are certainly the most interesting individual I have ever met,” the king said solemnly. “One more question, why aren’t your friends with you?”

“Elthinor was supposed to be talking to you, Pinnathir and Gabrithon are outside, and Jaiden and Valtrak are waiting with the guards.”

“Your friend is supposed to be talking with me?” Lolaiken asked with a start.

“Yes. About three hours ago is when the guards let him into the throne room.”

“Well, then let’s go discuss this matter of war. Lochanor,” he said turning to his son. “I shouldn’t let you come with us, what with you impersonating me, yet again, but I have a feeling that this is something bigger than any of our wars with the Satyrs. I still cannot believe we were tricked into those wars!”

“The Dark Ones are tricky,” I replied as he led us out of the room and down the hall. “Don’t blame yourself.”

“You are kind. But the shattered-eyes were revered as the best and brightest of our race, and were usually appointed as counselors to the king.”

“They tricked you, Lolaiken,” I said softly. “They’re shape shifters. Tricking people is what they do. They’re a bit, well, slyer than the other minions.”

“Minions?” Lochanor asked as we turned a corner. “And what does this have to do with the shattered-eyes?”

I looked at his genuinely curious expression and my dislike of him relaxed. I fell behind the king and into step with the prince, but spoke to both of them.

“This is what I understand of their ranks so far. This is the order they attacked us in, and it is what seems to be their hierarchy from bottom to top. First, there are Aswangs. Do you know what they are?”

“Yes. Horrible winged women. They bite and claw and it takes forever to heal those marks,” Lochanor said.

“Alright then. One rank up from them seem to be the Vampires. They all have grey skin and black hair, with glowing red eyes. And I mean, their entire eye is red. They hold either a shadow, or a memory of former glory. They have fangs and drink the blood of living creatures. They are extremely strong, like all the Dark Ones’ minions. Both they and the Aswangs cannot come out in daylight. They come out only at night and when there is heavy cloud covering.

“Next up are Naga. They are walking snakes. Fangs as long as your forearm with, we assume, potent venom to match. They don’t really need venom though.” I paused. “Then come in your shattered-eyes. They are called Rakshasa. They are shape shifters and are the most powerful so far, if not in strength, though they have grips of iron, then in subtlety and deception. After that, there are no more minions as far as I know. But one of the weaker Dark Ones is, pardon me, was, called a Mngwa. He was some kind of tiger as big as a horse. He could control Elementals with his mind.”

“What do you mean ‘was,’ Filynora?” Lolaiken asked as we walked through a doorway.

“I killed him.”

“Fily!” I looked up to see that we were in the throne room and Elthinor seemed to be playing a game with some kind of smooth wooden sticks with some guards. He stood up and hurried towards me. “What are you doing with the king?”

“I started wandering the halls and passed Lochanor’s room.”

“She was just telling us about these monsters you face. I believe you owe us this whole story in detail. I shall gather my counsel, but if you don’t mind telling it twice, I’d like to hear it right now,” the king said. He sat in the throne and the flowers unfurled into full bloom.

“Well, if that’s what your majesty wishes,” Elthinor said then began the story again.

 

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I Am the Life: Chapter 21

Gabrithon was very uncomfortable with a strange physician touching him. It was worse in that the Elf’s touches were causing him pain, but he said nothing. I opened my mouth to scold the Elf, but Gabrithon looked up at me sharply and his eyes clearly said ‘Don’t say anything.’ I settled back down and sat there silently. Neither king had come over to talk to us yet, so we just watched Gabrithon’s wounds be soothed. Elthinor looked like he was ready to come and slap the Elf. When I had asked him in a low voice why, he replied that the physician wasn’t doing it right. So I looked over my friends, and my eyes stopped on Valtrak. I immediately assessed his eyes for the first time in a while. They were dim. Not only that, he was grabbing his stomach. We had just eaten and it seemed the meal wasn’t agreeing with him.

“Valtrak, are you alright?”

“I haven’t had the necessary component to my diet in a while,” he said in a gruff voice.

“Does it hurt?”

“A little. It’s not as bad as it can get.”

“How long until it gets that bad?”

“A few weeks.”

The medical Elf looked up. “And what component do you need in your diet?” he asked.

Valtrak was silent.

“I, too, am curious about this,” came the king’s voice from behind me. “Please tell me.”

“Gems, your majesty,” he finally said, albeit reluctantly. “Or, more preferably, crystals.”

“Gems or crystals? Absurd!” the physician laughed then turned back to Gabrithon. “Nobody can eat those.”

“What is your name?” I asked.

“Geonicrin.”

“Geonicrin, how much do you know about Dwarves?”

He turned to me, and I saw that his hands were bloody. “Not much other than the fact that they look strange and are short.”

Valtrak bristled and surged to his feet. “I am not short! Why does everybody say that I am?”

“He means in comparison, Valtrak,” Gabrithon said with a chuckle.

The Dwarf crossed his arms angrily. “I am not short,” he groused then sat down.

I resumed my conversation with Geonicrin. “So since you know so little about Dwarves, how in the world are you expected to know about their diet?”

He stared at me and narrowed his eyes. “Though you have a good point, I still believe it is impossible for any creature to eat crystals.”

“If I gave him one, would he eat it in front of me to prove that this isn’t a ruse to steal our valuables?” the king asked.

“I would gladly prove that,” Valtrak said before gripping his stomach and grimacing. “Though I doubt you have any.”

The king got up and went towards the fire that was closest to his tent. He came back with his sword.

“May I borrow your knife, girl?”

“My name is Filynora.”

“That doesn’t sound like a Human name,” the king said thoughtfully.

I stared at him then focused. His eyes widened.

“That is impossible. Even if an Elf and a Human did marry, they should produce no children!”

“God made it possible. I don’t know why He made me, but He did,” I said with a nod.

The Elf looked at me strangely. “That is an odd answer. I simply meant that mud and tree are not compatible like that.”

“What she said does make sense if you have the whole story,” Elthinor replied.

“Wait a minute!” Jaiden exclaimed.

“What?” Pinnathir asked; he said he preferred our company to the other Satyrs.

“Mud and tree! He knew!”

I smiled. “Truth and remembrance do still permeate the races, although in quite small doses.”

“What is he so excited about?” the Elf king asked.

“You knew what Humans and Elves were created from,” Gabrithon said. At a look from me, he quickly added, “Not that I believe in it.”

“You must tell me the story, but later. Now, may I have your knife, Filynora?”

I handed him the blade, freshly cleaned and sharpened. He shifted his sword to where the hilt was in his lap then he began digging at the large purple jewel in his hilt. It took him five minutes, but he finally got it out. Then he handed it to Valtrak.

“Eat it. If you can, as you say you can, I shall give you all the crystals you need when we get back to the palace,” he said.

Geonicrin turned again to look and we all watched Valtrak. He glanced around, clearly uncomfortable, then took a bite. The two Elves looked extremely surprised, Geonicrin more so than the king, and watched fascinated as the Dwarf finished off the gem.

“Well, well, well,” the king said. “So you really can eat gems.”

“Yes,” he said.

“Did it help?”

“Yes. It helped, but it wasn’t enough,” Valtrak answered honestly.

“Well maybe your food shall settle a little bit.”

We descended into silence. I looked over the king. His colors were purple and green, the exact same shade as Elthinor. I could only see one cheek, which was a purple cat with green eyes lying in front of a bush with purple berries. His eyes suddenly turned to meet mine. They were purple around the pupils and green along the outside, and on the other cheek were purple flowers with green stems that curled into one. The designs were shimmering slightly in the moonlight, though the moon was just a sliver.

“Do you regularly stare at people, or is it just me?” the king asked.

“What is your name?”

“Lolaiken,” he said. “And my question still stands.”

“I was studying your designs and your eyes. New ones always fascinate me. God is so creative.”

Lolaiken looked like he was about to say something when Gabrithon squealed angrily.

“What are you trying to do, two legs!” he roared.

“I need you to lie down on your side. You have bite marks on your belly,” Geonicrin said then pushed on his side.

Gabrithon was on his feet in a second. “I would not trust you near my belly!”

“But the wounds need tending to!” the physician argued.

“Then tell Elthinor how to do it! But I want you on the other side of the fire!”

“You trust this inexperienced Elf over me?” Geonicrin asked incredulously.

“I have so much trust in him that I kneel in his presence every time we dine.”

Silence.

“You kneel for him?” Lolaiken asked.

“I kneel for all of them,” Gabrithon said sternly. “I trust them. Even the stonehead.”

“Mule,” Valtrak replied.

“I see,” the Elven ruler said with a hum.

“Why is that a big deal?” I asked.

“Centaurs are creatures of immense speed and power. They are revered amongst Elves. They are what our warriors strive to be like,” the king answered. “To have one kneel means baring his head and heart to easy attack. It is a gesture of vulnerability. A sign of trust. A sign of respect.”

“Oh,” I said. “Gabrithon, how did you know that?”

“I didn’t,” the Centaur said matter-of-factly. “I just went with it when Lochanor looked surprised and awed.”

“Speaking of your son, he is doing something disrespectful and irritating,” I said slowly.

“Let me guess,” Lolaiken said blandly. “He’s playing king again.”

“Yes,” we all answered in unison.

“That boy will never learn I fear,” the king sighed.

“Oh, I think he learned a powerful lesson,” Jaiden said gleefully.

“And what’s that?”

“Never make Filynora angry,” Elthinor said. When he saw Lolaiken’s confused expression, he chuckled. “She beat him in a swordfight. I’m sure it humiliated him. He might not try to be king for a while.”

“You must be quite the accomplished swordsman,” the king said with a solemn nod. “He is quite good and can beat nearly all the guards.”

“I don’t know about accomplished,” I said hesitantly.

“You are,” my friends said together.

“If you say so,” I said with a shrug. “Now, why are you being so nice to us?”

“Well,” Lolaiken said slowly. “You intrigue me. I have never seen a female wield a sword before.”

“Oh.”

“And I figure you will answer more questions if I am kind to you,” the king added after a moment.

“That is a very good thought. It is better than what Jestyn is doing,” Jaiden said.

“That is all well and good,” Geonicrin said suddenly. “But this Centaur’s underside needs tending to. Elf boy, please get over here!”

Elthinor stood and walked over to Gabrithon. He knelt, placing a hand on the golden colored hair of the Centaur’s horse half. Even I could see it was trembling, though in pain or fear, I wasn’t sure.

“Valtrak, come help him lie down,” Elthinor said as the physician backed off across the fire.

The Dwarf obeyed, grabbing his friend’s hand gently and helping to lower him to his side. Gabrithon was practically helpless on his side, but he met my eyes and smiled.

“Don’t worry about it Fily. I can get up from here, though it takes a moment or two,” the Centaur said. “But, as you can see, I am quite vulnerable in this position. I’m glad we are all such good friends. Except for you, but Filynora could take you down easily,” he said to the king.

“Duly noted,” the king said.

We watched as Elthinor worked to sew up the wounds then he turned and got in his pack, digging through it to find the Raysiam cream. He had some made when we had drawn close to the Elven city just in case Pinnathir or Laetitia got hurt.

“What is that?” the Geonicrin demanded. “I did not say to put that on there.”

“It’s Raysiam,” I said irritably.

“Oh. Well then by all means, put some of it on him.”

Gabrithon, with what looked like a mighty effort, heaved himself onto his belly again, but there was a few seconds where I wasn’t sure if he was going to make it up.

“Well,” Lolaiken said slowly. “I suppose we should get some rest. We have long talks with the Satyrs tomorrow. I bid thee goodnight.”

With that, he stood and left. We were left in silence. I yawned and kicked off my shoes, crawling into my bedroll, the others doing the same.

“Filynora?” Jaiden asked.

“Yes?”

“Don’t ever be my enemy.”

“What brought that on?” Elthinor asked sleepily.

“Just thinking about how she looked fighting the Rakshasa.”

I didn’t reply to them, but drifted off to sleep.

“Hello my dearest one,” came a familiar voice.

I sat up, still wearing that black and red dress from before. “Jesiah?” I asked. “It’s been a while.”

“Since we last spoke like this, yes.”

“Jesiah, why did God pick me to do this?” I asked, feeling insecure.

“That is not for you to know yet.”

“Of course,” I sighed, pressing two fingers into each temple.

“Every race always wants to know this, or has to know that, but just be still and know that He is God. He has everything planned out.”

“I suppose you’re right. I’m sorry for my impatience and the like, but…I feel too different. I don’t want to be a girl anymore. It would be easier if I were a boy.”

“On the contrary,” Jesiah said with a nod. “It would make things much harder. Be grateful for who you are, Filynora.” The forest started melting around us. “And before you go, think about this. If you were any different, in any way, then you simply wouldn’t be you. Send Laetitia to negotiate with the Satyrs. You just focus on the Elves. Goodbye dearest one.”

 

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