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Tyrus moved quickly beyond the garden, looking up at her window to meet her gaze before moving on. He couldn’t help but to feel that there was something there. That maybe there was a chance at love for the two of them. He felt as if he had his own personal sun all of a sudden. The thought that she could be as taken with him as he was with her was more than pleasing. His sunshine turned to gray clouds as reality set in. Would she really take him? His becoming a wolf often could prove a problem.
The cursed wolf and the mad witch, he couldn’t help but scoff. He covered his face; there was no way she would take him for a husband! Majority of their relationship would find him on all fours! He needed to stop being such a coward and confront the old witch and soon before someone else saw Tirin for more than just human. He moaned and continued to walk blindly, tonight would prove most trying as he knew of a few who were going to make their attempts for her heart. Especially Darec. He growled to himself before stopping suddenly in front of a house.
It was a foul, rotting, odor that had caused him to pause. Tyrus looked about finding himself in front of what used to be his home. He found himself suddenly cold as memories from six years ago come rushing back.
Six years ago ...
After failing his dare earlier that day Tyrus had to deal with being called a coward for the rest of the day. The taunts that Darec and his other friends threw at him were in no comparison as bothersome as the threat the witch promised for making the attempt of stealing her staff. A threat that seemed to echo and follow him all day. Her hate filled words wrapped around him tight even through his Barryn ritual. His Barryn had been odd to begin with, he was only sixteen and the Grand Ao'lean had called him. He found himself unable to be good company when he came out with the others when it ended. A vision of a large, white wolf daemon holding the body of a girl…one that looked like Tirin. That was all he received from the great tree. Even as disturbing as that was his mind was more concerned with the witch’s threat. His bed promised him a fretful sleep filled with nightmares.
A sixteen-year-old Tyrus awoke with a start later that night. His heart pounding in his ears as pieces of his nightmare flashed in his mind. He went to wipe his face only to find to his horror that his nightmare was reality! He howled in dismay, his elven body had been transformed within the dream into a monstrous wolf! Clumsily he fell to the floor with a thud the sheets and entangled covered falling on top of him. He froze as the footsteps of his mother grew louder, his door opened and she entered. Her soft laughter at the heap echoed eerily through his room.
“Was the dream that bad, dirdie?” She asked as she walked over to help him.
He tried to warn her, he tried to tell her to just go away only to hear himself growl.
“Did you just growl at me? How rude!” She continued to remove the sheets a smile still on her face. “A mother is allowed to help her little dirdie when he need … oh.”
Childish anger flashed through him as he had always had a problem getting his mother to leave him be when he wanted to be left alone. Always spouting that mother’s duty decree.
‘I told you to leave me…’ which is the start of what he wanted to say but her look as she backed away reminded him of his predicament. His angry growls echoed in his ears.
“Oh... Oh my…” She was gasping for air. Her right hand grabbed at her chest as she fell to the floor. She was having a heart attack!
Tyrus freed himself of his blankets and ran for the stairs, his only thought: his mother was dying. In his urgency he forgot his own predicament even when for some strange reason he was unable to get a hold of the doorknob. He found an open window and used it as an escape.
It was close to sunrise as the birds were chirping and the lamps were being extinguished. His claws resounded loudly off the cobblestone lanes as he followed their winding routes. Desperately searching for anyone to help. As he came
of the hill of the next street he found a group of them. A handful of High Guards were assisting the lamp man with his chore. Tyrus called to them watching at first confused as they all jumped, two of them drawing their swords. He then remembered why, but a little too late as one of them pointed at him. Tyrus skidded to a halt as they turned to face him. Neither moved at first, the Guards just stared in obvious surprise at the monstrous black wolf that seemed to have found its way into the city. Tyrus knew that with his size the thought in their mind was not to just capture him. He posed a threat to the city. He looked at the Guards again and almost wet himself as two of them were gone! He looked about and saw that they had somehow circled around him.
“The monster’s not a normal dog, he knows what you’re doing.” The lamp man said from his ladder.
“Hush, Gaeril!” The Guard that remained by the lamp man hissed.
Tyrus cowered as the sound of their gloved hands on the leather bound hilts tightened. He couldn’t help his mother if he was dead.
“Please!” He barked quickly reprimanding himself for forgetting. He took off with the Guards yelling behind him as he darted between them and headed toward the palace. Darec could help him, at least he hoped he could. He heard the footstep of the Guards behind him and the lamp man yelling to wake the people warning of a monster loose on the street.
There was no help, this was no dream and by now his mother was dead. He howled miserably as he ducked and dodged through bushes and fences. He didn’t know where to go, who would help him? How could anyone help him, they wouldn’t know that he was an elf.
He slammed into a Guard coming from the opposite direction sending both of them sprawling. The collision redirected his blind run. By now the main gates were closed there was no escape out of the city now. He loped up the street his eyes looking frantically for relief. They landed on what he thought at first a ghost. Tyrus ran toward her not thinking how strange it was for Tirin to be standing out on the street in her nightgown. As he neared he half expected her to run into the house screaming, but instead to his surprise she just moved to the side letting him in. Tyrus did not slow; he continued to run up the path to the front door. It opened, as Baelor was on his way out to call Tirin back in when Tyrus bolted past.
“What in the ….!” Baelor yelled as he was forced back against the wall. He ran for his den to retrieve his weapon only to meet Tirin in the hallway. She held him back.
“Don’t be hasty, father.” Tirin watched as Tyrus scrambled up the stairs. “He’s no danger … bar them from entering, please?” She asked calmly pointing to the front door.
Baelor watched his daughter follow quickly after the wolf confused but strangely calmed as she didn’t seem affected at all by the urgency of the situation. He barred the door.
“Baelor! What are you doing, man?” One of the residents yelled.
Baelor shrugged as he looked back toward the stairs.
“If you truly care for that …” another started and silenced as Baelor turned sharply, a threatening look on his face as he leveled his sword with the speaker's throat.
“Were you really going to finish that statement, Lorel?”
There was a thud and a series of whimpers from upstairs grabbing Baelor’s attention again.
“You may bring them up father!” Tirin called down. Still confused Baelor obeyed his daughter’s request and led the overly excited crowd up to her bedroom.
“Tirin I hope you know what you’re getting yourself into, girl.” He said as he entered first.
“Listen to your father, Tirin!” One of the Guards warned. “Get away from the beast and let us handle it.”
“Allow you to murder one of your own?” Tirin said as she stood in front of the beast. “I couldn’t let that happen.”
Both Tyrus and Baelor looked at her surprised.
“Tirin, what are you talking about? One of us?” Her father asked.
Tirin knelt in front of Tyrus not at all afraid. “There is no one else I know that has eyes like these. Not a normal animal this.” She said in an odd tone.
Baelor glared at the crowd behind him, silently ordering them to stay put as he moved to see what she was seeing.
The wolf’s large violet eyes stared back. “Oh dear Goddess of all that’s great! Is that Tyrus?”
The crowd hushed as she nodded. She got up from the floor and grabbed the sheet that was on her bed and draped it about the wolf.
“Tyrus calm down.”
Tyrus looked at her then at her father and then at the crowd. “Calm down? There is a mob of people behind you that would rather skin me than help me and you want me to calm …?” Tyrus knew that his words were nothing but a series of growled and barks but he couldn’t seem to help himself.
Tirin looked at him and smiled secretly. “Yes. If you want me to help you’re going to have to calm down.”
Tyrus’ jaw dropped. She understood him!
She almost laughed seeming to sense his surprise. “Due to you and your friends I have a lot of time to myself.” She watched as he bowed his head shamefully.
Tirin put her hands on either side of his face closed her eyes and began whispering something in words that he would never understand. Warmth spread from her hands to enfold his head and then body. Slowly this comforting warmth stretched out through him making it hard for him not to relax. His fore paws told him first as he watched half-aware as they began to elongate. The long fur slowly at first shrank back into his skin then gradually it quickened as it worked its way over his body.
Tyrus looked at Tirin who just looked tiredly back at him.
“Thank you.” He whispered. “Thank you for saving my life, Tirin!” He yelled as he hugged her tightly begging her forgiveness and pledging his loyalty to her all in one breathe.
Tyrus shook the memory away and looked back toward the Degjins' estate. Baelor had a lot of explaining to do that night six years ago. The Guards had started to try and take Tirin when she forced him to revert. They had all known that her mother had been a blight-witch; but none of them had known that she had mystical abilities. Her alienation had doubled because of him that night.
They arrived at the Comne, Baelor watching his daughter fret silently all the way there. He wanted to urge her to either relax or to tell him about it, but felt that in her own time she would tell him.
The celebration was already underway, the Barryn ritual not far in starting. He smiled as the silver-smiths’ son, Kalin DaeLord approached quietly and nervously from behind.
Tirin felt a gentle tug on her sleeve and turned to see a face she hadn’t been expecting. He bowed deeply before taking her hand and a nervous breath.
“You are so beautiful …” He blushed deeply then coughed clearing his throat as he hadn’t meant to say that. “I’m sorry …I meant would you care to dance?”
Tirin was elated. Her worry faded drastically as her father smiled and pushed her to answer.
“Kalin, there was no need to apologize for your earlier remark.” She smiled. “That just made my answer a positive one.” She watched as his pasty face regained some of its color. “But.”
His smile faltered.
“Is this of your own accord or did someone put you up to this?” She observed him closely ignoring the sour look her father gave her.
Kalin swallowed hard and nodded. “I understand and no this is not some childish prank, Tirin. I know I should have come and apologized for all the earlier trouble but …” He scratched his mousy brown head. “I … believe me, I’m ashamed of what I have done and would like for your forgiveness.” He bowed again.
Tirin patted him on his shoulder before she bent down next to him. “It’s alright, I forgave you when you said I was beautiful.”
He grinned broadly. “And you are.” He took her hand. “Shall we dance?”
Baelor watched as she smiled at him before being led away to the dance area. He observed as the young elf’s friends greeted Tirin without incident and without bias and then music begins.
He feels a large weight taken from his shoulders as she seemed to genuinely enjoy herself. For a good length of time he watched her go from dancing to just conversing with those she thought still hated her.
Baelor walked about the banquet table and grinned as he found his favorite dish.
The old elf jumped, dropping the Burgundy Mash and splattering the table with some of its syrupy wine colored sauce. He turned to face whoever it was that caught him.
High Lord DeimiyonShiey watched him with a grin that stretched from ear to ear. “So you got her to dance with someone after all these years only so you could get…”
“Why in all that’s great did you do that?” Baelor snapped annoyed. “I thought you were Tirin.”
“I know.” The High Lord laughed.
Baelor snatched the plate back up. “I deserve some reward, every now and then.”
Deimiyon grinned amusedly. “I suppose, but alas, my dear friend, you may not want to eat that just yet.”
Baelor looked at his longtime friend. “What’s with this tone? You’re beginning to worry me.”
“As it should.” Deimiyon nodded. “I have news that concerns you and your daughter.”
Baelor replaced the plate and waited. “Well? What is it?”
The High Lord took his friend by his arm and started to guide him away toward the grand Garden behind the Grand Ao'lean.
“You’re worrying me, Deimiyon.” Baelor stumbled twice as the High Lord dragged him from the party. “What is it?”
Deimiyon looked about as they reached the center of the Garden making sure they were alone.
“What about Tirin, Deimiyon, what are you trying to do? Scare me to death? Tell me!”
Deimiyon sighed and pointed to a bench. “You should sit down.”
“Don’t start with me.” Baelor warned. “Spit it out already!”
“Exactly how did you get Tirin?” He asked and watched as his friend rolled his eyes annoyed.
“Alright, alright!” Deimiyon said trying to calm him. “Your daughter’s been called upon….”
Baelor shook his head cutting his friend off before he could finish.
“What you say is impossible, Deimiyon. Only an Elf of Ao'lean can receive a gift, everyone knows that, even she knows that…”
Deimiyon put his hands on Baelor’s shoulders forcing him to sit down as he rambled on.
“I know this, but that doesn’t change the fact that she’s been called.”
They were quiet for a moment.
As they sat together trying to figure what was going on they didn’t notice that they now had an audience of one. Darec sat still in his hiding place watching everything with full attention.
“I don’t understand … how could this be?” Baelor asked bewildered. “The only way this could be is if she was actually my daughter, by blood … but she isn’t, not unless…” Baelor’s eyes widen with renewed shock.
“Baelor, was there something you didn’t mention? Like a relationship with this Zola?” Deimiyon said with a hint of disbelief.
Baelor covered his face trying to remember. Twenty years earlier found him back in the town of Meadon. The town was going up in flames and he had just emerged from what had been his cell for the past three years. A spell called the Watergate turned stonewalls into what appeared to be standing water. As he walked through he found Zola crumpled on the ground not far from his shelter, her blood coloring the ground as he neared her. In her weakening arms she held a struggling bundle, Tirin. She was not even a year old and healthy, but soon to be motherless. Baelor carried the both of them beyond the boundaries of the burning town. Zola urged him to put her down that she wasn’t going to make it no matter how hard he tried. As he put her down she tried to explain with her last breath about Tirin. All she could get out was: “Tirin …Please forgive me.”
All of this time he had thought she was telling him the child’s name and asking for his forgiveness for leaving him and returning with another’s baby.
Deimiyon nudged Baelor, as he seemed lost in memory. “Well? Did you have a relationship with this woman?”
“Were you intimate?”
Deimiyon closed his eyes in disbelief. “Is Tirin yours?”
Baelor yelled as he shot out of his seat. He couldn’t believe himself! How could he not have seen it? The girl was so much like him! It wasn’t because she was around him or because he raised her that way, but because she was his!
“I can’t believe this is happening to me!” He growled at himself. “How could I not see it?”
“So she is yours.” Deimiyon said sighing.
“Tirin is my daughter! She’s got my blood coursing through her veins, so yes, she would be called.” He struck the heel of his hand against his forehead. “Zola, oh Zola! Why couldn’t you have lived?” He paused looking through Deimiyon. “You would have lived longer if you hadn’t come for me.” He yelled angrily as he whirled about.
Deimiyon grabbed his arm. “Baelor, we don’t have time for your guilt trip!”
Darec watched as Sire Baelor looked resignedly at the stars. Tirin was half elf! This would be something to tell. He thought about it, maybe it was news that should be discussed between daughter and father. Darec shook his head and grinned, he couldn’t do it though. He wanted to see the look on her face when he brought her the news. He knew it could be the whole night before Sire Baelor finally got the guts to tell his daughter that her biological father adopted her. He found himself grinning all of a sudden. The women in Sire Baelor’s family all had strong gifts, so Tirin was bound to receive the same level of ability as they had. With her mother being a witch her talent for magyk was bound to make her an important asset to the community. With his background and her magyk…Darec almost laughed aloud.
“You need to tell her as soon as possible.” Deimiyon informed Baelor. He watched as Baelor paced back and forth his fingers stroking his beard.
“I heard you!” Baelor snapped. “How? How do you tell your own daughter that you were so blind with jealousy that you didn’t even realize that she was your own blood related child?” He looked at Deimiyon with a questioning gaze. “That all her worries and most of what she went through could have been lessened or never experienced in the first place?”
Baelor waved him quiet, “I need to be alone, Deimiyon. Please.” Baelor walked deeper into the garden. Becoming lost in the past.
For weeks Zola had gone to see Baelor in secret. Bringing him gifts of food, clothing, and her company. He eventually fell in love with her and for a while he thought himself an idiot for doing so. He was an elf and a slave, what kind of a life could he give her? If she wanted him at all? As time passed his feelings for her grew no matter how he tried to resist, often he ridiculed himself remembering how much he hated humans before ever knowing one.
One night she visited and seemed to be in a strange mood asking questions that he never thought she would ever be concerned about. For long drawn out moments there would be silence, uncomfortable silence while she pondered his answers. Then when she was getting ready to leave she came over to him and kissed him. He was so startled he just stood there frozen until she finished. She pulled away from him when she received no immediate reaction. He tried to catch her before she bolted, becoming angry with himself for not reacting like he wanted. But he was able to finally see how it was that Zola could come and go as she pleased without worry of being caught. Usually she left when he fell asleep or was not paying attention.
She waved her hand in front of a wall whispering what he assumed to be a goodbye and watched as she simply walked through it. He stood there for a second then warily inspected the wall. It remained solid for him.
He leaned against it, his heart heavy now, what had he done? He slid to the floor answers and questions filling his head. Why didn’t he kiss her back? She ran because he didn’t react. He just stood there like a stone, unmoving. Was she a witch, a sorceress, or a ghost? If she was a ghost why him, if she was witch or sorceress then why didn’t she offer to help him escape? He put his hand on the wall and just stared at it for a moment. Would she come back?
For days she stayed away. She even avoided him in town when he was doing his master’s business. With each day that passed he worried that she had left, getting farther and farther away from this town and from him. He had ruined a relationship that hadn’t even started.
Then one day after being abused somewhat for slacking in his work she appeared again. Zola materialized through the west wall of his small shack and this time he moved without realizing what he was doing. He walked over to her watching as her eyes went wide with either surprise at his motion or fright at his speed; he grabbed her and kissed her deeply. He finished the kiss and threatened to unite her body with his.
“I’m sorry.” He nuzzled her neck, caressing her face with his. “I was just so surprised, I didn’t think you would want…”
Zola looked at him, tears in her eyes as she smiled. “Because you’re one arm short? Because you’re a slave or an elf?” She hugged him back watching his face. “I thought it was me. Because I was human and until recently I didn’t think you’d give me a second chance after I revealed my little secret to you. I thought that maybe coupled with the fact that you’re married already…”
His face did fall then. He held up his left wrist showing his Ao'lean band. A band made from the wood of an Ao'lean tree and magykally solidified blood from both Loa and himself, joining them together. Zola stared as instead of a vibrant crimson it had changed to a dismal black color. He slammed his wrist against the nearest wall and watched as the band shattered like glass.
He hushed her. “She’s been dead for the past two years.”
She touched his shoulder, “But you said nothing!”
He turned to her. “There was nothing to say. She had been sick for quite some time and I was in no shape to get to her.” He turned away from her. “Besides, she wouldn’t have me back. My people are extremely prideful; my lost arm would have embarrassed her. The fact that I’ve been enslaved for all these years by humans would have shamed me alone.” He sighed, “This is the reason why most of my unit committed suicide. Why I never tried to escape. Where would I go? Who would I be of use to?"
Zola hugged him from behind. “You still have use.” She smiled turning him around.
Baelor could only grin.
For the next few days they acted like love starved fools. Keeping their secret during the day and welcoming each other as if they would never see each other again at night.
One night as they lay in bed together, Baelor found himself wondering why she never offered to free him. Why she never wanted to talk about her own past or use whatever magyk she had to help them out of this town.
Zola watched his face grow serious while he unconsciously intertwined her fingers with his
“What are you thinking about?”
He looked at her. “You.”
She hugged him tight. “What about me?”
“Exactly what kind of witch or sorceress are you?”
He watched her composure change to the defensive at his tone. “I find nothing wrong with either; I’m just confused as to why…” Baelor watched as she pulled away.
“I never offered to help set you free?” She sat up wrapping the covered about her. “That was my plan in the beginning, but then I fell in love with you and … I don’t know.”
Baelor took a breath and looked at her a little perturbed before he got out of bed.
“What kind of an excuse is that, Zola.”
She looked at him, her brown eyes large and shiny with coming tears. “I killed my mother.”
He balked. “What?”
Her hands made weak attempts to tame her wild hair as he stared at her. “I haven’t used my magyk in almost nine years. I had no reason to.” She wiped her face. “I’m sorry for being selfish, I’m sorry for letting this go on like it has. I should’ve explained it to you long time ago.”
“What are you babbling on about?” He said growing irritated. “I just want a simple answer as to why you haven’t offered. To let us start a life together somewhere far from here.”
Her eyes narrowed at his impatience. “Magyk has brought me nothing but trouble, every time I used it something bad would happen. The last time I used it I ended up having to run for my life.”
He walked over to the table and poured himself some of the wine she had brought with her.
“It’s just that I never used it until I met you. I have to be very careful.” She looked at him and saw that he didn’t care for her reasoning. She sighed. “The Watergate is one of many spells I know, but have only slight control of. I can get myself out, but to use it on someone else … I…I don’t trust my skill in it.” She looked at him ashamed. “I’m sorry.”
He sighed after taking a sip. “Don’t be.” There was a long moment of silence. She watched him avoid her eyes, making her feel as if she had been the one to take his arm. She swallowed nervous as she rose from the bed. Not getting the look she usually got when she approached him bare. Her stomach shrank as he did what he could to avoid looking at her.
“Baelor, I’m sorry. I didn’t want…”
“You didn’t even try. Zola.” He snapped. He pushed her away as she tried to approach him. “You didn’t even offer.”
“Baelor, please. Don’t do this to me.” She whined.
He glared at her. “I’m ready to turn in, do you mind?” He said hostile. The look she gave him made him regret his words, but his pride refused to let him let her know that he didn’t mean it.
“Baelor. I … I would free you in a heartbeat if I trusted my skills, Baelor!” She cried. “Forgive me for being…” She tried to hug him only to have him suddenly shove her away. She hit the bed with a loud thud.
“I don’t want to hear it, Zola!” He shook his head as she got up slowly. “I thought you loved me, I thought you wanted me…” His anger with her vanished as she faced him revealing the gash she suffered from his childish reaction. “Oh, Zola.”
She wiped the blood away nonchalantly. Gathering her clothing as he just stood there in horror of what he had done.
“Don’t worry.” She said glacially. “I’m fine. Nothing a little time can’t heal.” She started putting on her clothes. It was now his turn to suffer the cold shoulder.
He made the attempt of tending to her only to have her threaten him with a show of the power she knew she could control. As she finished he called her to remain only to watch as she walked out.
Months passed and then they added up into a year and then a year and two months. The next time he saw her she was dying in his arms, holding a small struggling bundle in her own.
An Epic Fantasy