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CHAPTER FIVE

The water

 

 

Tyrus watched as the High Lord and Sire Baelor left the Comne. He found himself a little worried by the look Baelor gave but let it go as he had his own mission to accomplish.

Tirin watched as Tyrus approached her. She found her heart beating like it was going to jump from her chest and land at his feet as he drew closer. So handsome he was, no longer ashamed of how he looked. His soft-curled hair pulled partially up into a topknot and the rest allowed to flow free down his back. Those around her began to back away at his approach and she grew ashamed to be the one he was coming for. She pinched herself. How could she feel that way? These people are just now accepting her and already she was threatening to turn her back on the one who was most loyal.

“What does he want?” Kalin asked annoyed. He started to smile until he saw the look on Tirin’s face.

“I can’t believe you just said that with his hearing as it is.” She said warningly.

Tyrus smiled showing off his fangs as he reached them. “Luckily for him it is not his company I want.”

“I … I apologize for…” Kalin started as Tyrus towered over him.

Tyrus ignored him as he took Tirin’s hand. “I must speak with you, Tirin.”

Tirin excused herself and followed him away. She turned to watch their reaction as she left their company and felt embarrassed once again for being associated with him. She couldn’t understand where it was coming from.

“Tirin, I must apologize for getting you into this.” He started as they continued to walk.

“Into what?” She asked confused. “You and Darec convinced me…”

Tyrus bowed his head shamefully. “I know what I did and it was for selfish reasons that I did it.”

Tirin looked at him. “I don’t understand.”

He stopped walking. “I wanted you to prove your worth, for these pompous, spoiled, hypocrites to see how special you are. To receive … to be able to receive a gift that…” He took another breath and watched as she smiled coyly at him.

“I understand now.” She scratched her head. “Apology accepted and understood.”

Tyrus sighed relieved. “Now we can do whatever you want. You are not obligated to stay. I will escort you to where ever you want to go. Even to Wonderlost.”

“Why would I go to Wonderlost?”

“I can honestly say that I do not know. I lose your scent every time.”

She grinned. “So it was you.”

Tyrus gazed at her, his eyes not moving from hers.

“The shadow that followed me.” She started swaying from side to side with the music. “But I’m fine.”

“But…” he started.

Tirin silenced him with a finger to his lips. “I know what can happen and strangely I want to see it through. I think.” She took a deep breath. “Even if I was to leave now or even when I had planned, I would still have to deal with it when I returned. So I may as well take it like an adult here and now.”

“I was really looking forward to visiting your hiding place in Wonderlost.”

She grinned sweetly and laughed. “There you go being selfish again.” She watched as he smiled largely. “What a gorgeous smile.” She whispered unconsciously to her own surprise. He started to say something in response when she cut him off.

“Dance with me.”

“Not a chance.” He said simply.

She pouted and grabbed his hand. “You can smile for me but you can’t dance with me?”

Tyrus’ face reverted to its original state. “The smiles are nothing but slips.”  He pulled away gently, “Accidents of nature. You will probably never see another.”

“Not if I have anything to do with it.”

He looked at her as if daring her to try. “Your new friends are waiting for you and I am quite sure more than willing to dance with you.”

“But I want to dance with you.” She said pouting again. “I’m sick of your alienating yourself.”

“Did you see anyone interested in me?” He looked about. “I surely do not. In fact there is not a soul interested…”

“I am.” She said sternly grabbing his hand. “And you’re refusing me.”

Tyrus sighed despite the wonderful warm feeling filling him from her answer. “Tirin…”

“I’ll tell my father that you were trying to use me for personal gain.”

Tyrus regarded her sternly. “Brat. Alright, let us get…”

“Yet again, should I be jealous?” Darec asked as he appeared from behind Tyrus. Both become quiet.

“Neither of you heard my approach so it must’ve been an involved conversation.” He pointed out. “May I join in?”

“No.” Tirin answered tugging on Tyrus’ hand. “We were about to dance.”

Darec’s eyes widened amusedly. “Really? Tyrus hasn’t danced in over eight years! He’s bound to trample your feet more than anything else.”

She glared at him to shut up. “That is of no concern to me, I want to dance with him and he wants to dance with me.”

Darec grinned. “Doesn’t look that way.” He shook his head as Tyrus gently pulled his hand free.

“Tyrus… I…” She started only to be silenced as he cupped her face with his hand.

“Perhaps another time.” He said quietly. She shook her head and started to grab for his hand again when he bent over and kissed her cheek.

Darec’s eyes narrowed as Tyrus lingered a little too long with his more than familiar gesture.

“Enjoy your Comne, Cattea.” Tyrus whispered before pulling away.

Tirin watched with wide eyes as he disappeared into the crowd. Her hand caressed the spot where he kissed her. She wasn’t sure of his intentions for that gesture nor was she sure of what she was feeling for him now. Maybe she was reading too much into it, but then Tyrus didn’t express himself as others did and it was hard to understand him. He may even think of her as a sister or charge as he had made it his responsibility to protect her at all times.

Darec watched as she hugged herself. What was wrong with Tyrus? What was with this show? Never had he made a move as involved as this. Nonetheless some emotionally retarded moron wouldn’t out do him. Tirin was going to be impressed with him enough to forget all about Tyrus' feeble attempt ... he paused what was he concerned about anyway? Tyrus wasn't going to give a show of his true feelings anytime soon, it meant too much to him to keep them bottled up.

“Tirin…” He observed Tirin’s glare.

“That was beyond rude, Darec.” She snapped. “If I had been Tyrus I would have punched you in your mouth!”

Darec grinned slyly. “No you wouldn’t and for that matter neither would he.”

She crossed her arms as she faced him. “I don’t want to dance with you that’s for sure!”

“Tirin, c’mon! I didn’t mean it to be mean, just a little friendly bantering. I didn’t know it would be taken so literally.” He took her arm gingerly. “If it will make you feel better I’ll tell him I’m sorry next time I see him.”

She refused to return his smile. “What do you want, my Lord?” She glared.

He sighed. “Well, to tell the truth it was to ask you to dance, but I can see that you are no longer in the mood for that.”

She smirked and agreed.

Darec shrugged, “Well since that’s out of the question I can move onto the really important news.”

“What important news?” She asked suspicious.

The swell of horns and stringed instruments drowned out his answer as the time of the Barryn was upon them. Darec bowed deeply.

“Afterwards, we’ll talk.” He turned and headed toward where his father was standing leaving her very confused.

 

Daynel Amforle watched Darec leave Tirin with a confused look on her face. She couldn’t stand the little human whelp and found it more than irritating that she was getting so much attention. What was wrong with her people? Did they no longer see that the little human was conning them all? She flipped her crimson curls back, her pride and joy. It was the most luxurious red but it was also proof of her heritage. Her family was of a strong magykal background. Most were Guardians for the Grand Ao'lean while others were high-level pyromages. She took another sip of her drink and watched Tirin become nervous. Daynel could admit that the girl had a good heart, but she was still human and this farce was more than insulting to her. To have a Human contaminate the sacred ground of the Barryn just because she was raised here as if she belonged was ridiculous. True, the little human had inborn talents because of her mother, but she could be nothing more than a low-level charmer as her biological father probably had no ability at all. Daynel took another sip, besides the only way the Grand Ao'lean would give her any type of gift was only if Baelor happened to be her father. She frowned. She wouldn’t put it past the old man to fall for a barbarian. Being held captive by them seemed to have made him less of an elf, or so her father said. She smiled somewhat, her father said a lot of things about Sire Baelor in private, but knew if the old Imperial found out, he would most likely be called out on it. Even with one arm, Baelor was still dangerous.

“Daynel?”

“Yes, Iilian.” She answered vacuously. She turned to face the one girl that preferred to be a flunky rather than a friend. Although Daynel didn’t mind, it was almost as if the girl was meant to be a servant rather than anything else.

Iilian fingered her ringlets as Daynel faced her. “You need anything? Daynel?”

The red head shook her head then paused. “I wish for stronger drink, but that won’t happen regardless of what you do.”

Iilian nodded eying the table where the grownups were. They were at a function that was to welcome them into adulthood, but refused the drinks that were enjoyed by adults.

The music swelled and then filled the city, inviting even those not attending the Comne to come and look on as two dozen of Ao'lean’s youths were about to be deemed adults and a few of them were about to be given more. Everyone seems ready for the next step.

All except one.       

As all eyes turned to her, Tirin felt like her body was slowly freezing over. Her eyes searched the crowd for her father. With every second that passed of not finding him more of her body seemed to ice over. Her panic filled eyes met Darec’s attempt of a consoling gaze. He mouthed to her that he was here for her. That everything was going to be okay. Not even the reassuring smile on his face was enough to make her feel even a little better.

Tirin observed the Young Lord’s smile shrink when footsteps approached her from behind. She knew immediately that they were not her father’s.

She shook her head, the coldness that crept over her limbs penetrating her body making it even harder for her to swallow. “I – I can’t do it, Tyrus.” Her voice cracked. “I lied to myself…I …I should have left when you asked…”

“You can.” Tyrus whispered soothingly, leaning in close. His hair brushed her cheek and immediately she knew right then and there that she wanted Tyrus. “I will be right here waiting for you.”

He placed his hand on the small of her back and gently pushed her forward. The warmth of his hand seemed to spread through her giving her the ability to move again.

Darec watched with a sour look as Tirin found her strength from Tyrus. The low buzzing he had experienced several times over was now at its most annoying. It filled his head to the point where he couldn’t think properly and it was accompanied by an annoying metallic flavor that filled his mouth. He experienced it first when he had his way with Tirin.

Darec watched as Tyrus made his way back into the crowd. He never did understand how Tyrus had gotten Tirin to keep quiet about what had happened or why he kept silent. Regardless of the past, neither had said a word to anyone and Darec was grateful. Yet now he wondered, was Tyrus planning something?

Daynel watched a little pleased when the smile on Darec’s face faded as the Dog came to the Human’s rescue. She never understood why Darec’s distaste for the whelp changed so dramatically. How did his hate for her turn into adoration? Why her? Daynel glared at Tirin as she finally reached the rest of them to stand in front of the gates to the inner garden. Daynel’s family was highly respected. Her blood housed a never-ending promise of magyk. If anyone were a perfect match for Darec, status wise, it would be her. And yet the Young Lord mooned after a crippled elf’s adopted human whelp.

Tirin tried hard not to look up. She didn’t want to meet any of the eyes she knew were on her. How embarrassing! Freezing like that and holding everyone up. Someone brushed up next to her forcing her to look up. Kalin smiled at her and she couldn’t seem to help but smile back. She was pleased that he was determined to be there for her, that he wanted her attention. Tirin looked away from him and immediately her eyes locked with Darec’s. The look on Darec’s face was hard to discern. His smile seemed genuine, yet his eyes seemed to be unable to remove themselves from Tirin’s. She almost felt as if he actually thought she was betraying him. The expression disappeared quickly as he realized she was looking at him and he moved forward from his post as practiced. The bowl in his hands gave a small whine when his grip tightened around its edges.

“Beyond these gates is the history of Ao'lean.” He began stiffly. “Not all of you will be able to pass beyond the gate itself and those that are may not receive a gift, or a vision. But know that your being summoned here is more than most can say.” Darec stood there silent for a moment then he closed his eyes and he cocked his head sharply to the side like he was in pain.

Deimiyon started to ask if he was all right but stopped as Darec took a deep breath shrugging whatever was bothering him away.

“In this bowl,” Darec continued. “I have water from a spring that wells up from the center of the Grand Ao'lean. This is Water of Unlocking. Whatever is hidden away will be found and brought to light within you.” He paused and stared at Kalin. “Be prepared as not all things brought out will be what you want.”

Darec stood at the center of the chosen few. “My father holds twenty-four divining stones. If you are to proceed the stone will turn black, if not, the stone will remain white.”

Without prompting, Deimiyon made his way to stand near his son and the both of them waited for the first of the twenty-four to start the parade. For a moment, no one moved and then with a disgusted sigh Daynel quickly made her way toward the High Lord. She grabbed a small satchel from the bowl he held then sauntered over to where Darec stood. He handed her a small cup and she delicately dipped from his bowl. She flashed him a dazzling smile one that lasted all of two seconds, as his eyes doesn’t even see her. Daynel quickly drank the water, tossed the cup and then dumped the stone out of its pouch into her hand. The red head looked up to see if Darec was even watching her progress and frowned because the Young Lord had turned away. She will be happy when Tirin showed how useless she was and how ridiculous it was for her to even be here.

Daynel turned to face the crowd when the water finally began to do as it was meant to do. The effects of the water varied from person to person, but it gave a feeling of euphoria. Daynel’s eyes held a glazed look to them as she gave a rather drunken smile before her stone flared and turned black. Immediately the red head’s eyes cleared and the silly smile vanished. The strange detached feeling she had earlier gone without a trace.

Iilian went next and experienced the same euphoria, but her encounter seemed to last a little longer. Meaning only that whatever ability she may or may not have was harder to locate. Kalin went next, his bravado bolstered by Iilian’s success. He accepted his portion of water and received a glare from Darec that confused him.

“Young Lord I--”

“You’re holding up progress.” Darec snapped.

Kalin quickly moved off to the side. All eyes were on him and he shrugs and downs his water quickly. After a few moments a goofy smile made its way across his face and he dumped his stone out into his hand. The stone flashed immediately, but remained white.

The confidant whispers disappeared quickly as Kalin looked at his stone. He gave a slight apathetic shrug and then bowed deeply before all of them. He made his way toward Tirin on his way back to the party.

“It doesn’t matter that I don’t have any magyk, it’s not a real surprise.” He smiled at her as she gave him a regretful look. “But if you dance with me afterward I’ll feel better.”

The buzzing in Darec’s head hit a new tone as he watched Kalin whisper to Tirin.

The night wore on. Twenty-four potentials become sixteen assured. The last to make her way forward was Tirin.

All noise seemed to stop at once. Those who failed stopped their displeased complaints and those that succeeded curbed their excitement as Tirin slowly made her way to retrieve the last available stone.

Deimiyon gave her a reassuring smile as she reached in and took the last pouch. She held it to her chest tightly as she headed over to Darec. Before she could motion him to pass her the last cup, he took it upon himself to fill it for her.

“You have nothing to worry about.” He whispered when she took the cup. She just smiled weakly.

Tentatively she stood there. Those that failed behind her and those that succeeded in front. With a nervous exhale she moved the cup to her mouth.

Deimiyon watched warily as she drank the water a sudden concern for her health flaring in his mind. Could she stand drinking the water? Even though she was half elf, what effects would it have on her?

The cup hit the ground with a sharp crack.

The High Lord moved forward a bit as Tirin stiffened. The small satchel containing her stone dropping to the ground next as her hands go to her head.

“Tirin?” Darec asked concerned. He watched her eyes roll to the back of her head. “Father…?”

Deimiyon dropped his bowl and rushed to Tirin’s side.

Tirin couldn’t understand what was happening. At first it was as if every pore of her being was opening up. For long agonizing moments she could see everything around and beyond her, could smell every scent there was available, and could hear every sound that was being made. She inhaled and breathed with her whole body. And in seconds it all ceased and suddenly she found herself flying down a long dark tunnel, pictures that moved surrounding her. Without a doubt she knew these were her memories. Sound blared in almost deafening. But it was the memory that kept ahead of her that intrigued her. No matter what she did, it raced further ahead. Something about it was forbidding yet her interest in it only increased. Unlike the others, it was blurred and elusive to the point of annoyance, but something pushed her to catch up with it. The fleeing memory was finally caught and without hesitation, she dove into it. Everything whirled about then stopped immediately. Something running at her forced her to turn and face a younger Darec before he pressed something across her face. Everything goes dark.

 Deimiyon snapped his fingers loudly by Tirin’s ear and smiled relieved as her eyes quickly refocus.

“You had us worried----.” Darec started but cut himself off as she glared at him.

“Get away from me.” She growled.

Deimiyon looked from his son to Tirin a little confused in the sudden change of attitude. “Tirin? What is it?”

Her look of intense anger faded to be replaced with confusion. “I don’t know…what am I doing?”

The High Lord bent down to retrieve the small satchel and placed it in her hand. Her shoulders drop. “Oh.”

The three of them stand together for a long moment. Tirin found that she didn’t want to be here anymore. That she definitely should have taken Tyrus up on his offer earlier. Not sure if she wanted anything to happen, remembering the pros and cons of either possibility.

“Oh reveal the stone already; we want to move on here.” Daynel griped. “Show us what we already know so the rest of us….”

The High Lord cleared his throat sharply and narrowed his eyes at the red head. The color drained from Daynel’s face quickly.

Tirin turned the satchel over in her hand keeping the material about the stone. As soon as the stone touched her skin there was a blinding flash.

The stone was black.

Daynel’s mouth dropped open then shut quickly as Darec moved passed them to open the gate. Ignoring the sudden swell of chatter of those gathered. Neither Lords gave them time to ask anything as they ushered the chosen through the entranceway.

The darkness within is profound at first then gradually their eyes adjust. Millions of flash beetles blink drowsily from the broad canopy of the Grand Ao'lean. The sound of water is finally heard in the tranquility of the Ao'lean’s presence and one by one they all move toward the center of the garden.

Tirin stood in awe for a moment before someone grabbed her.

“You’re not special…you’re just a plain Human whelp that’s….”

“Are you that insecure that you are willing to sacrifice your time with the Ao'lean?” One of the others interrupted.

“Leave her alone.” Someone else chimed in.

Daynel glared evilly into the darkness before releasing Tirin’s arm and started making her way over to the tree.

Tirin started to say thank you when something about the air changed. She turned around and watched as one by one the others fell under some spell. Each of them looked to be asleep where they stood. For long drawn out minutes she wandered around the Grand Ao'lean. Feeling like she was being left out, while whatever was happening to the rest of them wasn’t going to happen to her. She waited a little longer and then moved closer to the grand tree itself. Standing there at its base she felt compelled to touch it. She knew it couldn’t awaken what was already awakened; she had magyk, magyk passed to her from her mother. But a vision, she could possibly receive that.

Her fingers brushed the body of the tree carefully suddenly wondering if anyone had ever touched the tree itself. She looked around her seeing the others, even Daynel, as they remained more than a few meters away from the tree before becoming entranced. Tirin turned back around to the tree and place her hands flat against the body of it. The trunk was warm. She pulled away from it for a moment realizing immediately that this tree was nothing like the ones beyond the gates. Tirin reached out again and replaced her hands upon the trunk. Beneath the normal looking bark she could feel the swirling energy. Tirin was unable to remove her hands from the Ao'lean’s body as she sank to the ground, the warmth she felt suddenly surrounding her and then everything seemed to fade.

When Tirin opened her eyes again she knew at once that she was in Wonderlost. She knew because of the tree that stood before her. The tree had been transformed into a house, originally belonging to the wizard that had enchanted Wonderlost. But now the tree house was different. It seemed new occupants have come to Wonderlost. She felt a twinge of irritation, but doesn’t entertain it.

The tree house has a new face, a garden blooming with flowers of all sorts; and new windows have been carved into it at higher levels suggesting more rooms. That earlier twinge of irritation becomes slight jealousy. Someone was living happily here.

Then she noticed the bright red door opening. Two toddlers waddled out, both elven in appearance, twins, a boy and a girl. Their features were similar and yet drastically different. They noticed her and seem happier at her appearance. As the two children make their way toward her they grow older. The girl has snow- white hair and brown eyes that reflected the light like an animal’s. Her cheerful grin shows canines that are abnormal for her elfin heritage. She has a wild air to her. The boy has chocolate hair, violet eyes and a shy way about him. As they draw closer they become teenagers and the girl’s countenance only grew wilder but her stature was cat like and her brother was more dignified, like he knew more than he was supposed to. Their teenage years quickly turn into young adults as they finally reach her. The boy bows deeply, his features strong and regal. His sister follows his lead and now sports feline eyes, claws and even a tail. Upon rising the girl called her mother.

Tirin sat up abruptly the vision fading fast but the girl’s voice seemed to echo through the darkness.

“Mother?” Tirin scratched her head unintentionally causing her braided bun to fall. “Me?” The faces of the twins remained clear in her head. “Twins…elven twins…and mine?” Her heart raced as she couldn’t figure it out. Twins were definitely not common amongst elves, even fraternal twins and the girl had white hair, not a color common in any race.  

But.

The boy had violet eyes. Only one name came to her for that trait.

“Tirin?”

The girl in mention suddenly realized that she had made her way out of the gardens and back to the outside celebration. Kalin stood before her smiling.

“Tirin, are you okay?”

“Yes…I’m fine…” She noticed the amused look on his face. “Why?”

He shrugged, “Who’s Tylin and Theus?”

She froze. Were those their names? She felt as if her skin was on fire and knows she was blushing. Kalin snickered.

“My goodness, what was that for?”

“In my vision, there were---.” She started and stopped as Kalin looked like he was choking.

“You had a vision?” He coughed, “The Grand Ao'lean gave you a vision?”

It was like he had slapped her in the face. Part of her is angry at herself for being surprised at his reaction. How could he go from hating her to truly believing in her in one night?

“You can’t blame me for being surprised, Tirin.” He said grinning. “You’re Human; it’s not something that’s…”

“Yes, I had a vision, something that you will never experience, Kalin. Something more than a mere summoning to the garden.” She watched pleased as his face flushed. “What did you think? That the Grand Ao'lean would actually summon me, a Human for no reason? That the Grand Ao'lean was showing me pity because of my blood?”

Kalin cleared his throat trying to get her to lower her voice. “I’m sorry.” He put his hands about her shoulders. “I wasn’t trying to insult you—.”

She slapped his hands away from her. “But you did!” she snapped and then shook her head. “Never mind, enjoy the rest of the celebration, Kalin.” She started away when he took her hand.

“Good night. Kalin.” She pulled away from him becoming even more irritated. He moved to stand in front of her.

“Tirin, c’mon. You have to see how …”

Tirin watched as Darec approached from behind Kalin. “From the look on her face, I think that you have done something to upset her.”

“Young Lord.” Kalin started without turning to face him. “I have done nothing to perturb her, right Tirin?”

Before she could say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ Darec took it upon himself to force Kalin about to face him. “You face me when you are speaking to me!”

Kalin glared at him then lowered his eyes. “I apologize for that, Young Lord.” He said indignant.

“I don’t appreciate the tone of your apology, Kalin.”

“Well you would be just as resentful if I had barged my way into a conversation that did not concern me.”

The surrounding conversations seemed to die away.

“Are you saying that I had no right to insert myself into your conversation with Tirin?” Darec narrowed his eyes at Kalin daringly. “You’ve insulted someone I care about and expect me to just stand idle?”

The whispers become shocked silence as everyone hears what Tirin heard. Tirin slowly pushed her way backwards through the increasing crowd of youths. Darec’s words filled her with an anger that was cutting through her like a hot knife. The ‘Water of Unlocking’ had opened her eyes to a memory that had been hidden away. Something that had laid within her all this time, explaining the irritation she had always had for the Young Lord but never understood why, until now. And with his telling all that he ‘cared’ for her not only embarrassed her, but also brought up hatred she never entertained for anyone in her life before.

“I expected you to stay out of a situation that could have straightened---!” Kalin snapped but never got to finish as Darec punched Kalin square in the face.

Tirin didn’t wait around for the full result of Darec’s impulsive action. She immediately headed toward the outer garden and made her way deep into it. Moving far enough where the sounds of the celebration becomes muted to near silence. She wanted to scream, but she didn’t think she was far enough that she wouldn’t alarm the guards. She never thought tonight could turn out this way. This night had been seen two different ways in her head, not like this.

Tirin slowly walked toward one of many ornate benches that were randomly placed throughout the garden. She stopped before it and then stared off into the darkness. Where was her father? Why wasn’t he here to comfort her?

“Tirin?”

She flinched at his voice and started to walk away when Darec grabbed her arm. “I’m sor---.”

“Get your hands off of me!” She snapped. She watched as he dropped his head.

“I know my actions were childish…what I did was uncalled for, but---.”

The glare alone was enough to tell him that something else was causing this reaction.

“I don’t care.” She turned her back to him. “I don’t care what you do.”

It was as if the world had paused waiting for her next motion or words. Even the faint clamor of the Comne had vanished totally.

“What’s with this attitude?” the confusion he felt was justified, but something said that her anger with him was as well. The response she had given him at the Barryn ritual reminded him of that.  An alarm went off in his head.

“The Water.”

It was as if he could feel her hatred all of a sudden. The way she looked at him, her once neat appearance now a threatening one.

“I remember.” She growled. “I remember what you did.”

“I don’t truly understand…wait.” Was this why neither of them had said anything to his father? Because somehow after that hellish spell she started to cast went amok she had somehow forgotten? Now he understood why she didn’t say anything and why Tyrus couldn’t either. Tyrus couldn’t mention it to anyone if the victim didn’t recall the incident. But the water, the water had unlocked it. Darec felt a bolt of ice run through him. Did Tyrus know this was going to happen? Was this why he no longer acted like an emotionless statue? He had to redirect the conversation, something to keep her mind occupied till he could come up with a way to solve this new problem.

“Why are you still here? Why are you fawning all over me thinking that I’m going to be---?”

“Sire Baelor is your true father.”

The aspens tried hard to get their attention, rustling their leaves in the night breeze. They went ignored.

Her eyes showed something clicking in her mind. A possibility she had considered once before but apparently brushed off.

“What?” breathlessly she asked before sitting hard upon the bench now behind her.

“I overheard my father telling your father that you had been summoned. You know only Ao'lean elves can be summoned, that the Ao'lean will only speak to those of Elvin blood….” He paused as she suddenly looked as if she was having difficulty breathing.

“I don’t believe you.”

“Sire Baelor didn’t believe it either. He’s probably still wrestling with it now.” Darec shook his head. “The thought that he had adopted his own blood related daughter sent him reeling.”

“Shut up.” She wilted against the bench her eyes filling with tears.

“I figured you would want to know, as soon as possible…so well, that’s what I was going to tell you earlier.”

“You Ass!” She shrieked flying from the bench and raising her fists against him. “You stupid stupid ass!”

“Whoa!” he caught her by her wrists struggling just a little to keep her strikes from landing.

“How could you think that I would want to know from you?” she struggled with him for a minute more before giving up. She fell against him and buried her face in his chest. “I hate you, I hate you so much.”

“Really?” He asked bemusedly releasing her wrists to cup her face. “Something tells me otherwise.”

She rolled her eyes and pulled away. “Well you’re wrong.”

Darec grabbed her by her shoulders and pulled her back.

Tyrus watched from the path before finally reaching them while Darec pulled Tirin close and kissed her. Without a word he backed out quickly. The feelings he had held for so long were now boiling uncontrollably within him. He had to get out, to leave this place before he did something he knew he would regret.

In his rush to leave he didn’t notice Sire Baelor heading his way.

“Tyrus, have you seen Tirin?” The older elf watched almost alarmed as the younger one brushed past him growling. “Tyrus?” He watched as Tyrus quickly disappeared into the darkness beyond the plaza. Apparently the boy had seen something he hadn’t wanted to. Baelor looked to the garden then headed toward it.

Darec released Tirin and smiled as she stood there quietly, the look on her face telling him nothing, but she wasn’t angry anymo--.

Her hand snaked out and hit the left side of his face; he gawked and watched too startled to move as her other hand struck the other side of his face.

“Tirin!”

“You arrogant---!”

“Tirin?” It was her father’s voice.

Tirin stood stiffly as her father walked up from behind Darec.

“I heard a slap … is everything okay?” He asked. Tirin just stood there in a moody silence. “Cattea, is something wrong?” He touched her shoulder and watched slightly surprised as she moved out of reach.

“Yes.” She growled. “Get lost Darec.”

Baelor felt his throat tighten as he had a sinking feeling as to what was bothering her. Definitely sure that she was figuring out what it was that he had come to tell her. She knew that no other being was able to receive a gift from the Grand Ao'lean. He watched as for a moment Darec doesn’t move and then with an evil glare from Tirin he bowed out and then disappeared back down the path into the darkness.

“All this time I thought that I was privileged … or special.” She continued to avert her eyes. “Of course I always knew what I was in the eyes of the people here … and dealt with how they treated me in stride.”

Baelor swallowed; he knew where she was going. “Tirin, I …”

She looked up at him sharply. “All this time, father… my life could have been more tolerable! Being seen as a half-breed would have been better than being seen as a pure blood barbarian!”

“Stop that, right now!” Baelor snapped. “You are far from being a barbarian of any sort. Your being human does not mean that you are any less of a being than any other.”

“But that’s just it, isn’t it!” She glared at him. “I’m not human! I’m not an elf either!” She shouted.

Baelor looked away from her. “Tirin, I’m sorry you had to find out this way …”

“Through Darec I found out!” She laughed. “Is that how you planned it?”

Baelor covered his face. That was what the little brat was doing. “He must’ve overheard … I can’t believe…”

“If you didn’t want him to tell me why didn’t you tell me yourself?” She snapped. “Why did I have to find out from him?”

“You were supposed to hear it from me, not him.” Baelor looked back the way Darec went now annoyed. “This was none of his concern.”

“Well it seemed that you weren’t all that concerned about it either…”

“I didn’t find out about it until tonight!” He barked at her growing angry with her attitude. He watched as her face fell as his words sunk in.

“You didn’t know? How could you not?” Her voice wavered as she looked down at her hands. “I … mother … she wouldn’t have kept this from you … you should’ve known…” She moved further away from him.

Baelor scratched his head. “Cattea …”

“Stop calling me that.”

He sighed. “Tirin, when your mother placed you in my hands, you were mine. This changes nothing. Despite what you feel now, you know I love you, that no matter what, you are my daughter.”

She looked at him. “By blood, father. Not just because I was handed over to you by some random woman.”

“Tirin, I’m growing tired of your attitude. I have apologized and will continue to till I feel you have forgiven me for my oversight, but don’t forget that I am your….”

“What did you do to her?”

Baelor gawked at her.

“What did you do to my mother? Why would you not know about your own daughter?”

“That is way out of line, young lady!” Baelor bellowed moving toward her. “Your accusations will stop now!”

“Not till I know the truth!” She yelled back as she retreated. “I want to know what you did to her to make you feel so guilty that you felt you could redeem yourself by raising me.” Her eyes locked with his as tears flowed. “Such guilt makes me wonder if you wouldn’t have just left me the …”

Baelor slapped her.

“What you’re saying to me is beyond disrespectful, Tirin. I will not have it!” He watched her hold her cheek. “I loved your mother, but things didn’t work out as I wanted them to.”

“How could you not see something like this? How could you not know?” Tirin looked at her father pitifully. “How could you keep this a secret not only from me but from yourself as well?”

Baelor blinked. “Secrets? You want to talk about keeping secrets?” He moved toward her. “How about your being pregnant?”

Tirin almost fell. He knew?

An Epic Fantasy

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