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Wednesday, 08 June 2005
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Chapter iii, A Returning
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The path beyond the clearing was deserted to Ae'thenal's relief and of the imp who had been their guide there was no sign. But to her amazement the path that did run its way between the great trees was not in darkness, for as they did take their first steps upon it pure light did go before them defeating the night's deep gloom. Further amazement did soon follow; - whereas before their journey into the forest had been one of difficulty as they had searched out the way past cruel thorns, deep bogs and other obstacles. Now it did seem as if the forest did open a way to them, permitting them to walk beneath the ancient trees in safety. No hosts of fell creatures did gather to oppose them, though Ae'thenal could sense well enough that many eyes did watch their passing as they did journey on through the silence of the night.

As the dawn did begin to colour the sky they did find themselves standing within a clear space amongst the trees looking down upon the bright pavilions and tents of their people. The white silken pavilions of their Everqueen that did serve as her palace at the centre of this her city in the forest clearing below them.

"A single night Ae'thenal," Si'anelle did laugh then as she did look out over the bright and colourful pavilions and did raise her hands to the dawn sun. Surrounding the pavilions of their Everqueen and encircling it with their long bright bladed spears gripped in their hands did stand at least a full fifty of their Everqueen's Maiden Guard. Si'anelle's smile as she did look upon the Elf maidens in their white cloaks and bright silver armour did rival the sun and Ae'thenal was not suprised to discover that she too was smiling. They themselves were not a sight to rival the Maiden Guard with their cloaks stained and in tatters, their helms and light armour bearing dents and smears of mud, and their boots loud with slime. Though despite this they were both well and whole, bourne up by the pearl's sweet music so that they were neither aflicted with weariness nor marked and pinched by hunger.

"Let us go down and make our returning Ae'thenal," said Si'anelle her joy making her seem as if she was a child again, free of spirit and innocent of the World's cares. Infected by her friend's mood Ae'thenal did laugh aloud her own spirits light and soaring free. Claiming Si'anelle's hands in her own they did run in wild circles amongst the trees giggling as if they had forgotten they were adults who did have sober responsibilities. Until finally some measure of sense did return to them and now rendered breathless they did begin to descend the wooded hillside arm in arm.

When the ground beneath their feet did become the more level and they did see the morning's light spilling between the great trees and the clearing beyond, their spirits did soar free again. And so it was that they made their returning, bursting out from the forest near to the white silken pavilions of the Everqueen as wild and uninhibited as two children playing a game. Those Elves who were abroad, courtiers in their fine silks and gems, messengers and attendants of the Evercourt, did cry out and flee the moment they did sight them. Which did give Ae'thenal cause to wonder if with their tatters and dirt she and Si'anelle did own a fearsome appearance.

"Alas we are no longer children Ae'thenal," Si'anelle did sigh then. "Perhaps we should now remember that we are high born Elven ladies of Avelorn. And I of noble blood and owning a retinue's love and loyalty." Again she did sigh, sadness and regret laying their touch upon her for a time. Softly the pearl's sweet music did reach their ears and where it did serve to lift Ae'thenal's spirits, with Si'anelle the music did transform her until she did glow with life and health. Now she did laugh aloud as joyous as a child once more, so that when Naideth, champion of their Everqueen's Maiden Guard, was seen to be approaching them at a run her sword naked in her hand and six of the Maiden Guard with her, Si'anelle did burst into uncontrolled peals of laughter at the sight.

Lending her support to her giggling friend Ae'thenal did find her own lips begining to twitch as Naideth did slow to a walk her expression one of disbelief.

"My Lady Si'anelle, Lady Ae'thenal?" Naideth did say, her perfect features beneath her helm displaying such a depth of suprise that Si'anelle was sent giggling anew. "Are you well and unharmed, whole in body and spirit?"

"If you do ask if we are mad Naideth Morningstar we are perhaps a little," replied Ae'thenal as she did sigh. "For Si'anelle and I did face many dangers within the dark places of the forest and have fought hard against creatures of misrule who did gather against us to dispute our passing." A tear did escape her eyelids then as she did remember the pale guardian of the pool 'Despairing' who had siezed her by the leg. Her terror at the unatural strength of the fell creature and how her precious oath to Si'anelle had been mocked and proved to be without worth. Only before her distress could move her to open weeping the pearl's sweet music did touch her driving away all care.

Last Updated ( Monday, 05 September 2005 )
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