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Wednesday, 07 September 2005
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Chapter ix, Exile, a leavetaking with both honour and hope
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The salt breeze did hold a clean scent to it that soothed Ae'thenal's spirts within her as she did make her way across the deck to the rail. Leaning her weight upon the smooth wood she did set her eyes on the distant indistinct shape upon the horizon that was Ulthuan. For all her resolve that she would not come on deck while the land of her birth was still within sight she had done so, even if Ulthuan was now so faint in the distance that within this hour it would fade away in the joining of sea and sky. Sighing she did drop her eyes to watch the white wake at play against their vessel's sleekly fashioned hull, the winds favourable and serving to carry them away swifly into exile. And while the deck did quiver beneath her feet and with the sound of the rigging creaking in her ears Ae'thenal did weep, her tears spilling to lose themselves one after the other in the waters of the wide ocean. They had quit the forest of Avelorn on the afternoon following the battle with the Beastmen. And arrayed before them on a expanse of open ground beyond the forest had been a great warhost with their Everqueen's champion, the Prince Tyrion at its head. Even from where she had been sitting in misery among the baggage she had not failed to see the many proud banners held aloft; - ancient war standards with a weight of honour that had accused her with silent tongues. As the baggage wagon had halted she had forced herself to climb down, the act awkward in her long lady's gown of Autumn gold. And the more awkward still because she did have her sword belt and sword girded at her waist, despite her fostermother's protests this dawntime.

"Ward my Lady Si'anelle Elanise," she did say to the former member of the Maiden Guard well aware of the question held in Elanise's eyes as she did raise her eyebrows at her.

Pregnancy had not dimmed Elanise's fierce spirit in any measure for at once she did ask, "And who shall ward you Lady Ae'thenal? You can bare keep your feet with the weight of that sword at your hip unless you keep a hand to this wagon. Tell me how you do intend to act the part of our Lady's champion when you cannot stand unaided?"

"I shall lend Ae'thenal my support E'lanise," Nimine had said then as she did come to her rescue in company with four of her female guard. The four did plainly have their orders for they did at once climb up upon the wagon with purpose in their every movement. One did immediately claim a folding chair of dark carved wood from the mound of baggage, while her companions did at once set about easing up Si'anelle's limp form from where she did lie on a make shift bed among the bundles and boxes. More she did not have the chance to observe for now Nimine was firmly guiding her towards the place where Cedwyn did wait with Arhaindir Moonhand's standard held in his grip. The banner of his own archers and the banner of Nimine's female guard flanking him at either side in the hands of those who were the next senior in Si'anelle's household. Cedwyn's archers and the balance of Nimine's guard were drawn up in their ranks behind Cedwyn and if the the host before them did consider them to be the less for holding to Si'anelle, the set of their faces and their straight backs did prove their disagreement.

"Do they give any sign that they do intend to speak with us Cedwyn?" she had asked when Nimine had brought her to the archer champion's side. For her weakness had abated a little as now the Banepearl did shift itself to make a small gift to her. Though Nimine's more firm grip on her arm did also serve to warn her that her fostermother had not lost her powers of observation in any measure.

"I think they will come to us soon enough Lady Ae'thenal," was Cedwyn's reply. As he did now face her she did not fail in seeing his expression of disapproval at the sight of her sword.

"My oath to Si'anelle did not fade away with the rising of the sun this dawntime Cedwyn Brighteye," she did tell him.

"Nor our oaths Lady Ae'thenal," said Cedwyn in his turn. "Though I shall give this warning to you Lady, no blade shall be raised against Elf-kind this day or else the owner of that blade shall give an accounting to me." The gaze he did now lay upon her was severe and more than a match for her fostermother's present expression. In answer she did incline her head in formal grace, though Nimine did still hiss a rebuke into her ear at the cold hardness of her own expression.

"The day I do slay Elf-kind I will turn my blade's sharp edge upon myself fostermother," she did tell her sharply. "I do carry a sword as a token of my oath to Si'anelle; - will you both ever be so openly suspicious of my every act?"

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 07 September 2005 )
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