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"Gather round, children, gather near. This tale nags at me to be told. If you tarry, then you've only you and you alone to blame when you become confused. Come, come, children. Do not dally. My old bones creak and moan their protests, begging me to begin."
Settling about him, their tiny faces eager, and their eyes bright with anticipation, they wait. They know he is about to begin yet another tale filled with beings which no longer roam the earth, and visit places only lived within one's dreams. They lean in close as he begins his whispery dialogue. As one, they close their eyes, trying to capture the images as his voice draws them easily into another time.
"And so," he proclaimed. "It begins...."
...Ar-Ion paced back and forth within the Great Hall, each step echoing loudly into the deafening silence. His thoughts were clouded, his fears rampant.
Wringing his hands, he turned and paced the length of the hall yet again. He dare not stop to allow his mind free rein. It was either pace or stand about like an ancient artifact that had long since outlived all usefulness…and so he paced.
He heard the soft swish of the inner doors swinging open. He looked up. A court herald stepped into view, and with a sharp snap of his heels said, "My lord, please forgive this intrusion, but Captain Ra-Nu has insisted I announce him."
Ar-Ion nodded. "My Captain is to be the only one I shall see this eve. I will tolerate no further intrusions. None, save for news of my mate. Is that understood?"
"Aye, my lord."
"Now, leave me, and forget not my wishes."
With a backward wave of his hand, Ar-Ion returnedto his pacing.
Ra-Nu stood forgotten inside the door portal. He noted the worried frown marring Ar-Ion's youthful face…aging it. He wondered if this was perhaps how Ar-Ion would appear in two hundred phasings or more.
Ra-Nu had been Ar-Ion's companion and personal guardian for as long as he could recall. They'd been nearly inseparable in their youth, and even now, managed to maintain the strong bond forged so many phasings past.
King Ar-Hur, Ar-Ion's grandfather, had ruled then. Ar-Ion's father and Ar-Hur's only son, Ra-Ree, should have been the next ruler of the elfen nation of Ra-Jee, but had died young. Soon after his death, King Ar-Hur sank into a deep depression and turned his throne over to a very young Ar-Ion…and then, one cycle, Ar-Hur simply ceased to be.
Ra-Nu had been too young then to understand and still didn't know exactly what had happened, but he knew a great sadness shadowed the land ever since. Everything seemed in harmony, but there was no great spiritual uplifting within the hearts of his fellow elves. Peace ran through the valley, but without true contentment.
Sometimes, Ra-Nu felt as if the Royal House was under a curse. He contemplated the birth that was even now struggling to take place. Would this child mean an end to the curse, or a new facade to a dark family secret? Was he about to welcome a new life into the world that would ultimately usher an end to the existence he now knew? He shook his head. He just didn't know.
Ar-Ion's voice suddenly broke the uneasy silence that filled the chamber. "My dear friend, always near when my heart aches." He motioned Ra-Nu forward with one slender, pale hand. "Come, help me chase the demons from my mind."
"I have come, my friend, as always, to give to you what strength I possess."
Ar-Ion offered him a weak smile as they embraced.
"Come, sit," Ar-Ion said, before taking a seat himself.
"How does the queen fare?" Ra-Nu took a place across from Ar-Ion's tense form.
"It has been so very long, Ra-Nu, with the pain exceedingly hard and constant. My Mi-Ra grows weaker with each passing of the ancient hour."
Ar-Ion's eyes remained haunted as he locked his gaze to Ra-Nu's own. A moan escaped his parted lips as he cried out, "I hear her screams and I feel the pain, here, in my soul." He punctuated the statement by pounding his fist forcefully against his chest. "And I fear for the lives of them both." He stood and began to pace anew. "I know to lose one would mean the life of the other," he admitted, then grew quiet.
Copyright © 2005 Sheri L. McGathy