Toren shuffled into the living room after a very restless evening. First he’d experienced the dreaming awake sensation he’d been seeking to experience for months followed by a nightmare. The dream of Lyrika’s past confirmed much of what he’d come to suspect, Gal had become obsessed with the prophecy and returning his life to the way it had been before Lyrika’s death. After reflection, it seemed to Toren that Gal was under the belief that when he united the artifacts that he could bring his wife and child back to the way they were before, or so he’d promised Lyrika. Very sad. He supposed he understood the grief Gal must have felt; he couldn’t imagine losing one of his children, but he could never see himself killing Tristen. But he was looking at the prophecy from another place and set of circumstances than Gal. He couldn’t lose sight of that. It was barely six and yet the room was surprisingly bright, every single light on, and on the couch was sitting his eldest daughter. Toren glanced down at the floor as he made his way slowly around the couch. It seemed that he was not the only one who’d had a rough night.
He slid into the seat next to Rhiannon. He’d barely settled into the cushions when his daughter blurted out, “I’m different.” He was sure he looked like a fish out of water as he tried to think of what to say. He’d known their was a possibility that one or more of his children might be gifted and had told himself he was prepared for the revelation, but for some reason he’d not expected it to be Rhia. He cleared his throat, “Well, I guess I should have seen this coming. So how do you know you’re different?”
Rhiannon swung her legs back and forth for a moment. An onlooker would have noticed the resemblance between father and daughter as the two faces took on a similar unreadable expression. The girl confessed quietly," I see smoke usually when I’m around water…but sometimes when I’m not and..” Toren sat and waited patiently for his daughter to finish. He knew first hand how hard it could be to talk about this sort of thing. “ And I hear voices sometimes.” Toren nodded, “Like your Aunt Silvana?” Rhiannon shook her head, “No, not like that. These voices talk to me. They call my name.” She hoped her dad would know what was going on with her. The voices didn’t scare her, well not usually.
Toren sat further back in his seat as revelation dawned, “Oh so you are a medium! Ryker and I discussed that as a possibility.” Rhiannon smiled a little to hear her dad seemed to know what was going on. “So the voices I’m hearing. They’re dead people?” Toren nodded, “Yes.” Rhiannon nibbled her bottom lip and thought about how she felt about that. It wasn’t like she could get rid of her gift, and she didn’t really think she wanted to get rid of it. She’d just prefer if she could control it and she’d prefer to not be the only one to have one. And she supposed she wasn’t really. Her dad was different and maybe it wouldn’t make people look at her too differently. “Uncle Ryker could come over and teach me stuff right?” she asked hopefully.
Toren rubbed his hands as they lay in his lap. “Of course he can. And I can help you too Rhia. If you ever need to talk I’m here if you need me. Okay?” Rhiannon grinned. “Okay. You have another dream?” Toren raised an eyebrow, “Am I that obvious?” “ Yes.”
“ Come here Rhia.” Toren called as he moved closer to his daughter. Rhiannon scooted closer and asked a question she’d been secretly wanting to ask for a long time. “Dad, do you ever have good dreams?” She held her breath a part of her dreading the answer would be no.
Toren wrapped a protective arm around Rhiannon and pulled her extra close. “Rhiannon, listen to me very carefully okay? These gifts we have they have good and bad qualities. Sometimes it may seem like I only has bad dreams, but I see good things happen in my dreams too. And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found I’m glad I have my gift. Always remember though, you don’t have to be scared of it okay?” Rhiannon punched him playfully in the ribs, “See anything good in my future?” Toren gave a half-smile, “Hmm, well now maybe I saw you kissing a boy.” Rhiannon leapt up from the couch running from the room, “Ewww,!” leaving Toren in fits of laughter on the couch.
Arleth moved gracefully through the grass running lightly as only an elf can run toward the meeting grove. Tristen Walosenko and an unknown guest were to be meeting him there in a half hour. He was curious who would be accompanying the gypsy, but it is safe to assume he was not expecting it to be Iruviel Ceberlandon. The two had met during Iruviel’s life journey during one of the Valen elf’s many nightly excursions. The two had gotten along, but they’d parted ways and Arleth had found that time seemed to ease the pain of her departure, or so he thought.
Their eyes locked almost instantly, both recognizing the other. Arleth had to draw his eyes away for fear of appearing an improper host. He gave Tristen his attention and went through the proper motions ,though it proved difficult to give the other his full attention with such a beautiful elf standing less than a yard away. He tilted his head as the gypsy finished speaking. “Yes, if you will follow me. The matriarch’s are waiting at Lantern Yard. This way.”
Lantern Yard proved to be only a short distance away. Tristen did find it difficult to keep up with the faster moving elves, but she managed not to lose them. It helped that Iruviel was kind enough to slow her own pace so that Tristen might keep her brown hair in constant view. When the small settlement came into view, Tristen caught sight of two women seated upon the ground. No doubt one of them was responsible for finding the relic she’d come to collect.
Arleth arrived first introducing the two guests. The dark elven women were introduced as Matriarch Gem and Matriarch Mae. According to Mae, they had other names of course, but it was unlikely that Tristen and Iruviel would be able to pronounce them. Iruviel snorted from just behind Tristen. But thankfully, she kept whatever biting retort she may have had to herself.
Tristen stepped forward and bowed politely. She did hope she’d gotten the bow correct. The dark elves had very few dealings with her people for the most part, so details on their customs were few and likely inaccurate in many cases. Mae however smiled brightly and welcomed Tristen as if she were an old friend or family member who’d finally come home. “Welcome to Lantern Yard! Come on in and have a seat. Gem isn’t this fun!’ Gem stood back a bit cringing slightly. Mae’s overly enthusiastic nature may very well send the gypsy running for the hills.
Tristen didn’t go running for the hills, but she did find Mae’s bubbly attitude a little intimidating. She noted that Matriarch Gem had to be coaxed into sitting with them. Tristen couldn’t help but wonder if she’d broken a social custom or been offensive. She nervously took her seat and hoped she didn’t blunder this meeting up. They really couldn’t afford to give the dark elves yet another reason to be unhappy with her kind.
Meanwhile, back in Rainbow Valley Lir was just making his way downstairs. It was nearly lunch time and yet this was the first Toren had seen of his only son. He didn’t understand how anyone could sleep so late, but then again Lir was a night owl and would happily stay up until midnight or later if his parents would let him. “ Morning dad!” Lir called enthusiastically as he pulled Toren down for a kiss. Toren chuckled softly, “Well if you can still call it morning. It’s nearly 11 o’clock.” Lir laughed back a huge grin on his face. He dashed out of the room searching for some adventure to get into.
Lir found Rhiannon in the dining room. He skidded to a stop just outside the room. Her back was turned to him. He crept into the room as quietly as he could. Feeling someone breathing down her neck Rhiannon turned around. Her brother let out a loud growl and made the scariest face he could. “How was that Rhia? Did I scare you?”
Rhiannon titled her head to the side examining her brother’s scary face from all angles. “Nope.” Lir dropped his hands, “Really? Not even a little bit?”
Rhiannon shook her head and then put on her scariest face. “It should be more like this Lir. Besides,” Rhiannon’s tone suddenly became very mischievous, “I’ve found monsters aren’t that scary. Especially to evil queens like me.” Lir pulled his hands into the air and started to back away. “Oh no! Not the evil queen Rhiannon! Whatever will we do?” Lir ran out of the room screaming to Rhiannon’s amusement.
But he was soon back again hands in the air. He put on his most heroic voice and laughed as he lifted his hands to point at Rhiannon, “Your evil days are through Queen Rhiannon! For I the great uh.. The great Robot Tree yeah..the great Robot Tree am here to stop you with my all-powerful spores!” Rhiannon let out a shriek and pretended to dodge the invisible spores that were shooting from “Robot Tree’s” hands.
Rhiannon scrunched up her face as she pretended the spores had hit her. “I’m melting!” she cried as she slumped dramatically to the floor.
Both Vijayakar children burst into fits of laughter. Rhiannon could barely control herself from her place on the hardwood floor. “Robot Tree?” she choked out. Lir doubled over, “Yeah, not my best, but come on let’s go play outside Rhia. Please?” Rhiannon gasped for air. She sighed finally looking up at Lir’s big puppy dog eyes, “I guess I can play outside for a while, but if you throw mud on me again..” “ It was an accident I swear!”
As her children were romping around the yard, Tristen was continuing her ongoing investigation into the artifact she’d come to recover. “So it’s a plant?” Mae nodded enthusiastically, “Oh yes, and you’re an expert on plants correct?” Tristen nodded in the affirmative, “Yes, but can either of you tell me anything about this plant?” From her seat Gem responded, “I can.”
“ Now, Gem remember we do want her to go get the plant.” Gem and Tristen both stared at Mae. Gem clearly was losing her patience, but Mae just kept on smiling. Tristen wondered if the two women always communicated like this. “ As I was saying,” Gem continued at last, “The cowplant was created to guard our ancient cities from the Valen elves. But these plants turned on their master’s killing many dark elves. Having no option our Matriarch’s ordered the plants destroyed with fire. All of the cowplants were thought to be long destroyed.”
“ Except we obviously missed one.” interjected a newcomer to the group. Gem sighed, “Yes, Jules, obviously we did.” Why did people have to interrupt her in the middle of her story? Jules looked Tristen over, “So you’re the gypsy?” Tristen stared coolly back at Jules, “Obviously. Is that an issue?”
Jules slid into the seat across from Tristen, “I am not aware of any problems unless you brought some with you.” Tristen matched eyes with the dark elf in front of her. She wasn’t hear to stir up trouble and was more than happy to play nice with the natives as long as they gave her the choice. Gem pursed her lips. “Okay look ladies I’m not interested in breaking up a cat fight.” Jules and Tristen continued their silent staring match for a few more minutes before Jules grinned, “Gypsy, I’m not interested in getting into a fight either. I’m here to do my job, m’kay.” Tristen nodded, “Fine.”
From that point onward, Tristen and Jules seemed to ignore one another. “So how am I going to get this plant home exactly?” Mae looked to Gem to explain the plan. She was leading this expedition after all. Gem continued, “I’m going to take you to the plant tomorrow. I was actually hoping you’d be able to tell me how you’re going to help me get that thing home.” “ Yes, since you’re people were actually the ones who provided the lovely creatures to our matriarchs in the first place Gypsy.” Tristen bit her tongue. She spoke to Mae choosing to ignore Jules’ remark, “Well there are a few books that mention Cowplants. I should be able to handle it, I just need help getting there.”
Tristen couldn’t help but add, “Does that satisfy you Jules?” Jules smiled a rather fake sweet smile, “Sure gypsy. Just make sure that thing doesn’t eat anyone while you’re here.” Tristen in all seriousness replied, “I have no intention of doing any such thing.” With that Tristen stood up from the table and politely as she could dismissed herself. “Excuse me ladies, I’m going to go have a word with my friend.”
Said friend was sitting on a nearby log. “What do you mean I can’t go over there and punch her in the face?” Arleth had to repress a smile. Truth be told, the matriarch might find Iruviel’s spunk impressive, but he had no desire to see the two women engaged in mortal combat. He replied calmly, “Matriarch Jules is very nice. She’s just a little suspicious of gypsies. And it’s not like they havn’t given her a reason.” Iruviel threw her hands out, “So? Tristen is my cousin’s wife. I came to protect her not to sit around and let some stuck up queen push her around because of who her parents are.” Arleth nodded, “Jules will warm up to her I’m sure. You’ll see. Just give her a chance.” ”
Iruviel’s eyes were drawn back to the place where the gypsies were seated. Tristen appeared to be walking away and headed her way. Fine she wouldn’t say anything right now. But that Jules had better watch herself. If she laid one hand on Toren’s wife, well she would have to answer to Iruviel Ceberlandon.
Back home, little Xanthe was not having a pleasant afternoon. She’d crawled into big sister Rhiannon’s room and had been interested by that red and black box. She’d turned the handle only for a very scary thing to jump out. She covered her eyes and started to sniffle.
“ Momma!” Xanthe cried. Xanthe was much to young to realize her mother was far away at the moment and unable to scoop her up into her warm arms. The door to the bedroom opened. Little Xanthe turned around expecting to see Tristen, or maybe Toren.
“ What’s wrong baby? The toy too scary?” Rhiannon cooed at the youngest of the Vijayakar children. Xanthe looked up at her sister with tear filled eyes and nodded. She was clearly expecting Rhiannon to make her feel better. However, Rhiannon was not happy to find her baby sister playing in her room with her toys. “Maybe you’d like to play with the toy car instead?” She held the toy car out to Xanthe.
Xanthe smiled as she reached her chubby hands up to grab the yellow car. But Rhiannon held it just out of the smaller girl’s reach. “What’s the matter?” she teased, “I thought you wanted to play with the car. Guess not.” Rhiannon then chunked the car into the hall and watched as Xanthe cried louder. “Oh go get it you dummy if you want it.”
Rhiannon had ended up having to push Xanthe out into the hall. The stupid little thing wouldn’t stop crying for mommy. After closing the door to block out the crying of her baby sister, Rhiannon plopped down in front of her jack-in-the-box. She smiled when the creepy clown popped out. She didn’t see what was so scary about it. Well at least now maybe Xanthe would stay away from her toys.
Kali had found a tear-eyed Xanthe in the hall. She’d scooped her up and sent Glyn in to have a word with little Miss Rhiannon about sharing and being nice to her siblings. The twins needed baths and since Xanthe was the first to be found she got hers first. “Higher!” the little girl giggled. Kali obliged and flew her grand-daughter through the air just a wee bit higher. It wasn’t easy to lift her arms up that high anymore, but she could still get little Xanthe high enough.
Glyn soon brought Kalana in for her bath and as the water was draining the two decided to try teaching the girls to talk a little more. Glyn was sure he could get Kalana talking first since she was the more rambunctious of the twins.
Glyn smiled at Kalana, “Come on Kalana you can say Glyn-Glyn right?” Kalana however looked over at the right wall obviously more amused by the way the sunlight streaming through the windows was hitting the metal towel stand than talking. Kali coaxed gently, “Come on Xanthe you can do it. I heard you say my name yesterday.”
“ Nana.” Kali whispered. Xanthe was always quiet and hardly ever spoke above a whisper. It was a rare thing to hear her talking at all, let alone doing it on command. Glyn’s face fell and he pouted as Kali turned up her lips in a triumphant smirk. “Nice try old man.” Glyn huffed, “Figures.”
And Glyndwr went by grumbling even more when he caught Kalana chatting away with older brother Lir less than half an hour later. Lir rocked back and forth next to his baby sister who followed him around everywhere, “What’s wrong with Glyn-Glyn?” Kalana shrugged her shoulders and smiled up at Lir, “Let’s Pway horsey now Lir!”
After a game of Horsey with the twins Lir made his way toward the back-door of the house. He wanted to see if he could catch some fire-flies before bed. Never mind, that it was winter and Rhiannon and everyone said there weren’t any fireflies in the wintertime. It was still fun to be outside. Speaking of Rhiannon, Lir ran into her half-way to the door. In order to obtain safe passage he had to win a game of punch-you-punch me against her. Which of course meant he had to take a punch in the arm without crying. That was easy though since he was a boy. He was headed for the door when, “Lir! It’s almost bedtime.” Drats! He’d almost made it that time.
Lir smiled as he listened to his bedtime story. Kali noticed with a smirk that he was still wearing his jacket. That boy just didn’t let up. “And so the dog found his way home at last. The End.” Lir put on his biggest smile, “Can I go outside for just a few minutes Grandmdma Kali? See how I said please. Since I used my manners, that means I can right?” Kali laughed. “Uh no I don’t think so. Off to bed mister.” She added cheerfully as Lir climbed the stairs,” Nice try though.”
Toren crept up behind his son who was standing on the sidewalk across the street from the house. Toren had watched with a little trepidation from his carpool as it drove up to the house as his son climbed out his bedroom window and onto the roof. He’d then watched his son expertly swing down from the nearby tree so that he could get to the ground below. Sometimes..
“ Hi dad!” Lir exclaimed cheerfully as he heard his father’s approach. He’d seen the carpool from the tree and had thought about going back to bed, but well he was already caught so he might as well go the rest of the way and have a little fun. Toren knelt down next to his son slightly amused by the fact his son seemed completely unaffected about being caught out after bed. He supposed he should get onto him, but…
Toren teased his son from the back-yard as he lined up his first water balloon throw. Sure Kali had initially thrown a fit when they’d gone inside, but the next day was Sunday, and really it wouldn’t hurt Lir to stay up for a little while longer. Kali had made Lir promise he wasn’t going to whine when she got him up to do chores the next day. Lir had readily agreed and then dashed back outside for their water war. They’d invited Rhia, but she’d said no.
Lir smiled wickedly as he let the water balloon soar through the air.
Toren shielded his face from the water as it splashed up from the ground. Lir had barely missed. The water was cold in the night air, but it would do him good to have a bit of fun.
Tristen watched the main courtyard of Lantern Yard from the tree line a short distance away. Her companion for the journey was standing with her back turned away from their hosts. Iruviel was not happy about the way Tristen had been treated, but her moodiness had started back at the meeting grove. “Iruviel it was unlikely that we’d come here and not meet one dark elf who wasn’t happy about my visit.” Iruviel said nothing at first. “They wonder why they have such a bad reputation?” She let out a cold laugh, “Well perhaps their pushy, self-righteous nature has something to with it. Or the way they always think they know what they are talking about. Well sometimes they don’t have a clue. Just because they..Ugh!” Tristen grimaced, “We’re not talking about Jules anymore are we?”
Back in the courtyard, the three Matriarchs were laying their final plans. “You’re sure you can get them their safely Gem?” Gem smiled, “Of course, that is as long as Jules can keep it together long enough to do her part.” Jules groaned, “I can get my part done just fine Gem.” Truth be told she wasn’t sure what had come over her. Mae looked over at Jules in concern, “What happened today? You’re not normally like that at all.” “ I don’t know. I just took one look at her and something snapped.” If only that girl wasn’t her grand-daughter. “ Well try not to let it happen again, huh. I’ve heard the Valen elf she’s with has a really nasty temper.”
As everyone else headed off to bed, Iruviel had to take a run. Tristen had started to get too pushy. One of the last Valen elves alive had never been much for talking about her feelings and she was not in any mood to start trying to explain herself now. Running had always made her feel better when she was stressed. So Iruviel ran. She didn’t know where she was going, and really it didn’t matter. So long as it was away from all the questions. But fate was against her.
Arleth stood at his watch post near the edge of the river contemplating the day’s events. He’d certainly not expected to ever see his old lover again. And he certainly hadn’t expected to still have feelings for her. They’d parted ways long ago both agreeing that a relationship between them just wouldn’t have worked, but truthfully he’d only agreed because he didn’t have a choice really. He couldn’t tame Iruviel, and really he had no desire to, whatever she might think, he valued her fire. Arleth sighed. Then he caught the sound of light footsteps upon the grass. No doubt it was a young elf sneaking out past curfew. Again.
Iruviel nearly slipped as she came ot an abrupt stop as she ran face to face with the last dark elf on the planet she wanted to see. Arleth watched her struggle to regain her balance as quickly as possible. “Good evening Miss Ceberlandon.” he greeted her casually. Yes he still had feelings the elf in front of him, but he wasn’t about to push her into something she did not want herself. If she was truly happy single (though he had his doubts or maybe he was desperately hoping she had feelings for him too) then he was happy for her.
Somehow the two did end up on the forest floor speaking again as if nothing had changed. It almost felt like one of those nights so long ago when they’d first encountered one another. The two chatted away pleasantly long into the night before Iruviel confessed it was time for her to retire. She did have an important mission the next morning after all. Arleth could not argue this fact and slowly rose and went to assist her to her feet. He hoped she’d let him, but he told himself he’d understand if she didn’t.
Maybe it was the familiarity of the setting, maybe it was the way he’d helped her up, or maybe it was because secretly Iruviel wanted to fall in love, whatever the reason the two elves found themselves in one another’s arms again.
Rhiannon heard the laughter coming from the backyard as her father and brother enjoyed a water balloon fight. Lir had been nice enough to ask her to join in too, but Rhiannon had something else she needed to do tonight. She wasn’t comfortable with the idea exactly, but she had to do this eventually. She might as well get it out of the way. She scrubbed the sink down and after she was sure there weren’t any specks of dirt left, Rhiannon crept into the front hall to wait.
She sat down upon the floor legs crossed near the bathroom door. She took a deep breath and tried to tell herself she wasn’t really scared. Her dad did say he had good dreams, and he’d never lie to her about stuff like that. So that meant that the dead people who wanted to talk to her could be good people too. She just hoped the first one she met was a good one and not a bad one.
Ryker hadn’t been able to come over tonight because it was his babies’ birthday. Rhia supposed she understand that he needed to be with his own family, but she still would have liked to have had a pep talk before trying this. What if there was a trick to making sure the ghosts weren’t bad? She hoped not.
She didn’t want to think about that. So to keep her mind of it, Rhiannon chose to wonder what the twins looked like. She bet they’d be cute. She knew they were green like her Aunt Kaya, but she didn’t know much else about them. Maybe she’d go over to visit the next time her dad or mom went over.
Rhiannon froze. She’d seen the smoke pass right in front of her. She leaned back on her hands and waited for the voices. The smoke hadn’t gone in the bathroom though, it had floated into the study. Rhiannon kept breathing in and out, in and out. She could do this.
Right? As she waited for the voice to come Rhiannon began to feel just a little nervous. Maybe she should just go upstairs and wait until after she’d talked to Ryker or her dad some more. No! She wasn’t a baby. She was almost a teenager. Teenagers didn’t hide in their beds from a dead person. Dead people were dead. It’s not like they could hurt her. Right? “ Well are you coming or not?” Rhiannon jumped straight up as she heard the voice scampering toward the study calling, “Coming!”
Rhiannon groaned as she saw the chess board was set. Naturally the first ghost she met would want to play chess. But who was the man sitting at the table? He didn’t look mean or scary. He looked sort of like a grandpa with wild gray hair. And he was wearing a suit with a red jacket and a blue bow tie.
Rhiannon crawled up onto the empty seat, after piling on a few books first. She hated that she still needed to use the books. She scratched her head as she thought about which piece to move. “So who are you? And is it possible for you to be less well foggy?”
Oloros Goldweaver moved his first piece across the board, “Ah yes sorry about the mist little hawk. Should clear up in a minute or two.”
Rhiannon blinked a few times and found the mist did clear up. She could see the old man in front of her clearly as if he were really in the room with her. She asked, “Can other people see you or just me? I mean say I was talking to you and someone walked in, would I look like a crazy person.”
Oloros scratched his chin, “Hmm I don’t think anyone but other vampires could ever learn to see me so yes an average person might think you a little mad.” Rhiannon moved a piece and bit her lower lip. Well there was the bad side, “So do you plan on popping in often?” Oloros chuckled, “No, I think not. I’ll try to be discrete when I visit. Though others might not be so considerate. They might just pop in you know. Rather rude if you ask me, but well I can’t very well control them.” “ But I could show you to other half vamps like my dad or brother right?” “ Well your dad maybe, but Lir no. Sorry.”
Rhiannon panicked. Lir wasn’t like her? But…”Look over there!”
Oloros gave Rhiannon a knowing sad look before he disappeared.
Rhiannon closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. No, how could she be the only one? How could Lir not be like her! Well not exactly like her, but how could Lir not be a half-vampire. She and Lir did everything together. Okay so she’d initially hated the idea of a little brother, but now that Lir wasn’t so small it was pretty fun. How could Lir not be special? The ghost had to be wrong. He just had to be.
The next morning Lir made his way into the dining room looking for Rhiannon. He’d finally finished his chores and was looking forward to an afternoon full of adventures. It was a little odd that he hadn’t seen Rhia all morning. He finally found her in the dining room and was a little surprised to see her trying to run away from him. “Hang on Rhia! We haven't even started the game yet!”
Rhiannon screeched, “Go away Lir! I don’t want to play with you right now.” Lir cocked his head to the side, “Why not? We always play together on the weekends.” “ I just don’t. You wouldn’t get it.”
“ Oh come on Rhia! What’s wrong? Is it your powers? Dad said you’re like him and that you can talk to dead people.” Rhiannon blinked, “No. I mean sort of. Look Lir, I don’t want to talk about it.”
“ Okay, we can just play red hands. Come on you try to hit me first and then I’ll go.” Rhiannon slapped her brother’s hands once and tried to get away. But Lir grabbed her arms and then put her hands ontop of his.
She jerked them away quickly and Lir pouted, “Drats! How are you so good at this game. I’m the great Robot Tree! I should be able to foil your evil doings Rhiannon.” Rhiannon stared at Lir unable to believe what was going on. How on earth was Lir able to act like nothing weird was going on? And why was it so funny? She started to laugh.
“ Well I found a way to overcome your spores. Uh witch gave me a potion.” Lir smiled. “ You really don’t care?”
Lir motioned with his finger for Rhiannon to come close. “Wanna know a secret.” Rhiannon’s eyes grew big as she listened to what her brother whispered into her ear. Did she just hear him right? Surely she did. “ Promise you won’t tell right?” Rhiannon smiled, “Okay.” “ And Rhia, I think it’s cool you’ve got special powers.”
Rhiannon reassured that she and Lir could keep doing everything together even though she talked to dead people, she let herself go back to enjoying her weekend.
“ Ely, taught me how to do it. Pretty neat huh?” Lir cheered enthusiastically. “That’s amazing. You’ll show me how right?” Rhiannon tried to nod but then remembered she was on her head, “Only if you play mary-mack with me.”
“ I can’t believe you agreed to this.” “ What can I say? I really want to learn how to stand on my head.”
Rhiannon gave her brother a lopsided grin, “You’re weird.” “ I know.”
Lir stopped near the basement stairs and yelled over her shoulder to her brother below, “I’ll be down in a sec.” Oloros coughed once, “Oloros Goldweaver.” Rhiannon raised an eyebrow. “ I realized I didn’t tell you my name last night.” And with a twinkle in his blue eyes he added, “And I wanted to check in see how you were doing. But seems everything’s fine for the moment. So I’ll be on my way.” Rhiannon watched him disappear through the living room wall before dashing down the stairs to join Lir in the basement.
Tristen found Iruviel beside the fountain on Sunday morning. “Jules says she’s ready when we are.” Iruviel didn’t seem to hear her as the elf continued to stare at the clouds. Tristen cleared her throat. Iruviel merely responded with, “Hmm?” “ I said Jules is ready to get us ready to go.” “ Oh, coming.”
Iruviel took a seat in the offered chair after changing her clothes. She fixed Jules with a smile, “Mess up my hair and you’re dead.” Jules coughed. “Don’t worry I’m a professional.” Iruviel turned her head forward, “Just so we’re clear.”
“ So what do you think Valen? It pass you’re inspection or should I start writing my will.” Iruviel looked at her reflection in the mirror. “Well, let me put it this way. As long as you don’t mess with Tristen again you’ll live.” Iruviel gracefully stood from the chair and left the room before Jules was given a chance to respond.
“ Morning Gypsy. Sleep well?” Tristen sighed as she sat down in the chair. “Fine thank-you. My name is Tristen.” From just outside the door Iruviel’s voice drifted in, “Everything alright in there?” Jules grinned, “We’re just peachy thanks.” She turned back to Tristen, “You know what you need? Some face paint.” Tristen closed her eyes and prayed this makeover wouldn’t be too bad.
Iruviel ran just behind Gem quite surprised at how quickly she moved. Iruviel was normally the fastest runner even faster than most of the dark elves she’d encountered, but not Gem. “So the makeovers were necessary?” Gem called back as she ran, “There are no blond headed allies of my people living in these woods. And there are very few allies with brown hair whom everyone does not already know. With things the way they are right now it’s safer for you to be disguised as Nectu traders from Rainbow Valley. Will raise much less suspicion.” Iruviel nodded then remembered Gem likely could not see her. “Right.”
Tristen was well behind the two elves. Plus it was difficult to run in a dress. She was not naturally agile and found it difficult to run in pants let alone a dress. Well at least she wasn’t wearing heels. She thought about asking the others to wait up, but realized they were likely too far away to hear her.
Gem came to a sudden stop near one of the rivers in a wooded clearing. There just behind some of the trees Iruviel could just make out the form of the cowplant. “It’s bigger than I expected. Gem replied, “You expected a plant that eats people to be small?”
“ No, I well I don’t know what I was expecting.” The two women stared at the creature.
“ You really believe Tristen can get a handle on that thing?” Iruviel spoke up clearly defensive, “Of course she can.” Though deep in her mind she had her doubts.
Tristen was still making her way to the clearing just clearing an ancient graveyard likely full of the cowplants victims. A very morbid thought, but likely true. Tristen quacked her pace wanting to put distance between herself and the graveyard.
Tristen caught sight of the plant and caught her breath. It was huge! But Tristen had never found a plant that could scare her, and so she marched confidently forward.
Gem and Iruviel watched as Tristen pulled out some meat from a nearby hole and offered it to the plant. “Here you go!” The plant devoured the meat and then lowered his head for Tristen to pet lifting its roots out of the ground.
Tristen turned back to the elves, “Mission accomplished. Well almost.” Iruviel stepped forward first to help Tristen carry the plant back to the nearby village.
Arleth sat outside the salon in Lantern Yard a few hours later. “So the boat will be able to carry the plant?” Iruviel crossed her legs to make herself more comfortable on the grass, “Yes, and Ravi’s meeting us at the docks to help us carry it to a safe location.” Arleth stared into the distance growing silent. “So, this is good-bye again. Well at least I get to say good-bye this time.” Iruviel rubbed her neck uncomfortably, “Yeah. Well I’m going to wait for Tristen by the fountain.” Arleth watched her go, all the while wishing she wasn’t.
“ Everything’s set. Ready to go home.” Tristen frowned, “I am. Are you?” Iruviel pursed her lips, “What kind of question is that?” Tristen drummed her fingers nervously, “Well we’ve got time for you to tell Arleth good-bye you know. And it did seem like you two get along.” Iruviel rolled her eyes, “Oh please. Arleth’s just a friend. And I already told him goodbye. No need to drag it out.” Tristen finally agreed, “Well, if you’re sure. Then let’s go home.”