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Wednesday, 07 September 2005
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Chapter vi, We shall quit Ulthuan
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Before this day an occasion for her to be riding her horse Nadimar would have been an event to enjoy, only Ae'thenal could find no pleasure in the act. At her side Si'anelle did sit motionless upon her horse Finaith, her hands loose folded on the saddle brow, while with the reins held in her grip Nimine did walk at Finaith's head to do the work of guiding the beautiful dappled grey beast for her mistress. Thanks to the efforts of Nimine's female guard Si'anelle was now bathed and groomed, her golden hair flowing loose over her shoulders, her armour over her long white undertunic and green leggings a flawless sheening silver. Even though that armour was a mix made from her father's long coat of scale mail and Si'anelle's own breastplate and helm with the worst of their ill-fated quest's dents worked out of the metal; her friend at least did have the look about her of being a Noble Lady of Avelorn, trained to the sword and bow and worthy to lead her retinue. The same work had been expended on Finaith, his coat was brushed into gloss and all the gear of his barding shone to rival his mistresses own wargear. Though as Ae'thenal did glance down at her friend's boots she did find a small regret that even all the skill of Nimine's ten female guard had not been able to entirely banish the wear and staining from the leather.

As for herself she had not escaped her foster mother's attentions. Her scale mail worn over the same green and white clothing as her friend had been lifted from some store chest since her own father's wargear had been lost on the Plains of Finuval. Though like Si'anelle her helm and breastplate were her own. The shield slung at her back did bear the Eye of Isha as did her friend's and she like Si'anelle did carry a longbow and a full quiver of arrows at her saddle as well as her spear and sword. All this being the gifts of love and loyalty that Si'anelle's retinue had given to them in the hours after they both had walked out from the abandoned pavilion of their Everqueen clothed in the tatters and dirt of their foolish and ill-starred quest.

With her hand clenched tight about the smooth shaft that did bear aloft the war standard of Arhaindir Moonhand Ae'thenal did not believe herself to be worthy of this honour. Might well she be of high birth, the last of the line of Telimis with no other living kindred. Fostered into the household of Arhaindir Moonhand as an orphaned babe. Companion and friend to the Noble Lady Si'anelle from childhood who is also the last of her line with no other living kindred. But all this could never make her worthy of this standard that did display the full moon in the night sky amidst seven bright stars as its device. For all the urging on Cedwyn Brighteye and her foster mothers' part that she should take this standard with its weight of honour up in her hand.

As she did wonder over the tides of fate that had brought her as an orphan to become Si'anelle's friend in the aftermath of a most terrible war against the forces of Chaos. And how the innocent joys of childhood had led both Si'anelle and herself to this present moment; Si'anelle did speak quietly to her. "And who shall we fool Ae'thenal; with our bright armour and our banner. The journey we do make is a one that does have its ending beyond the shores of Ulthuan and if we are fortunate indeed we may be permitted to depart unmolested by Elvenkind." Her friend's tone was despair itself. Might well she be whole and in health, her face now more fair in its beauty than it had ever been; but despite this Si'anelle did sit her saddle with her shoulders slumped and her eyes dull. Her hands like life did no longer dwell within them. "It would have been better if in truth we had been abandoned Ae'thenal, than make this false play between us that the House of Arhaindir is still worthy of honour."

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