Goldweaver Family Legacy Chapter 27: Hatred and Love are Blind
“ Are you sure about this Elysium?” “ For the hundredth time Rhia, yes Didn’t I do a good job on the twins hair?”
“ I suppose. But I don’t really see what’s wrong with my hair to begin with.” Elysium had sighed, “Rhia, it’s a sleepover tradition to make each other over. It’s supposed to be fun.” “ So why am I not doing your hair?” Elysium Walosenko coughed and sputtered, “Uh, I promised El she could do it. You can do my nails though. Oh come on don’t give me that look.”
“ Girls I’m sorry to interrupt, but we have to leave for Waterfalls Springs first thing in the morning.” A shiver had run down her spine as her uncle spoke. Something was seriously wrong. “But why papa?” her cousin had asked. Ravi had held up a hand, “Not now Ely. I’ll explain once I get back from taking your cousin home. Go on into the main room and help your mother.”
Her parents had been in the study and her mother was actually playing chess. Her father had his head bent over a book. His tone was soft and low, all normal occurrences, but he actually used her full name. He never used her full name. “Rhiannon, your great-grandmother died a few days ago. Apparently some nobles have produced some disturbing documents among her possessions which implicate your Uncle and I as aiding her in among other things, conspiring to assassinate several gypsy nobles. We’ve been ordered to appear in court or else…” Toren faltered eyes not once looking in her direction. “Rhiannon, go get packed we leave in an hour.”
“ Rhia are you even listening to me?” Elysium shrieked from her side of the basement. Rhiannon let out a sigh as she continued to stare at the opposite wall. “I heard you Elysium,” she replied quietly her exasperation growing by the minute. Did Elysium really think she didn’t know what was at stake? Did she really think Rhiannon wasn’t aware of what would happen if the council found her father guilty?
“ What do you want me to do Ely?” she inquired through gritted teeth. “Whether I like it or not, I’m just going to have to stand here or sit here with you until my father comes back, or else” here she faltered a moment,” or else for the guards to come haul us all off to some fortified asylum. So for the love of all, please stop your screeching!” But her cousin didn’t stop throwing her tantrum, well she did stop yelling directly at Rhiannon, but she was still pacing the room and screaming that all this was unfair and ridiculous. Rhiannon agreed, but hoped that the ceilings really were sound-proof since she didn’t want her siblings to hear any of this. Her brother would just roll his eyes and poke fun at the situation, but the twins were barely six.
Rhiannon wasn’t willing to take the chances of the girls getting scared. Well no more than they already were. She’d promised her father before he left that she would watch over her siblings. And she couldn’t concentrate with all this noise. “Elysium, I said stop. You’re not helping anything with your screaming and if anything you’re going to make things worse. Xanthe, Kalana, Zeric, and Lir are right upstairs.” Elysium finally stopped and came to stand still across from Rhiannon. “I just feel so helpless. What if they kill them Rhia?” Rhiannon folded her arms responding shakily, “They won’t okay? Look I…I..need it quiet in here.”
While the teens were kept together in the basement, the children had been split into two rooms. Lir and his sisters were together, but Zeric had been placed in a room by himself. Lir watched his baby sisters pace the floor nervously, Kalana shooting a glance at the door every few minutes and Xanthe had not stopped shaking since they’d been put in here. He furrowed his brows trying to think of some way to distract them from what was going on. He didn’t understand a lot of it himself, but he did know that his father and mother had been taken off in handcuffs. Luckily Kalana and Xanthe had not seen it since Rhia had made sure they were in the other room before the guards came. He wished he hadn’t seen it himself. How to distract them? Nervously he asked hoping this would work," Has Glyn Glyn told you the story about the Matak yet?” Kalana shook her head eyes still gazing worriedly at the door, “No.” She wasn’t at all interested in a story right now, but one look at Xanthe and she realized maybe a story wouldn’t be so bad right now.
Lir smiled reassuringly, “It’s a really good one. You’ll really like it Xanthe.” Xanthe looked hesitantly at the door wishing her mommy and daddy would come back. Or even big sister Rhiannon. She didn’t like being in this house with all these strange people. They all looked so mean with their swords and armor. Her brother’s voice interjected again, “Xan?” ““ It’s not about something gross is it?” she pleaded fearing a trick. Her twin often played tricks on her and she was worried Lir might try one too. Lir shook his head, “No, nothing gross. The Matak are elves.”
Xanthe smiled at the mention of elves. She loved elves and was probably the proudest of all the children of being descended from them. Seeing his littlest sister smile Lir smiled back. “Well, a loooooooooong time ago this land used to be the home of nothing but elves. Back then all the elves were just called Patuljak. But that was before there were lots of them. So when there were lots of them, the elves started to split up and move in to new places.”
“ Some of the elves followed an elf named Valen and they moved to Waterfall Springs and Rainbow Valley. We’re descended from those elves Xan. And then the dark elves followed an elf named Fjell and they decided to live in the mountains, but when they got there they found out the vampires were already living there so they moved into the valleys below the mountains instead. And then Fjell’s elves started spending more time with the vampires than with us so then we started to not get along so well.”
Xanthe furrowed her brow in confusion, “But why would that matter?” Kalana leaned back, “Nana Kali says that when people move away from one another they change and sometimes when they try to come back together again they just can’t get along the way they used to.” “ But why?” Kalana huffed, “I don’t know Xan. They just don’t okay?” Xan wrapped her arms around her legs and answered meekly, “Okay.”
Lir shot Kalana an aggravated look. Here he was trying to cheer poor Xan up and Kalana was being a brat. “Anyway, the Matak elves used to live with the Valen elves in Rainbow Valley. But they liked to travel so one day they just sailed away on these big beautiful blue and silver ships and never came back. Some people say they all died out just like the Valen did. Others think they just found a new home far away and maybe forgot all about us.” Xanthe sighed, “Wouldn’t it be neat to find them?” Kalana made a face from her place on the floor, “Xan, if the Matak were still out there someone would have found them. They’re probably all gone just like the Valen ones are.”
Lir responded as he watched Xanthe’s face fall, “That’s not true Kalana. All the Valen elves aren’t dead. What about Aunt Iruviel or even us? Sure we don’t have the ears anymore, but we still tell their stories, sing their songs, and speak their language. And who knows maybe the Matak are still out there somewhere. In fact I bet they are. It’s not like anyone from around here has gone looking all that hard for them.”
Lir suddenly slapped his knees and laughed aloud. “That’s what we should do when we get older! We should go find out what happened to the Matak!” Xanthe thought this was a wonderful idea, but Kalana thought that her siblings were both completely nuts.
As afternoon fell over Waterfall Springs, the children of generation seven were left waiting to learn the fate the council would soon hand down upon them all. Elysium had at last stopped pacing and watched her cousin meditating on the floor, “How can she be so calm?” Ely thought. Her stomach was in knots with worry and in truth so were Rhiannon’s. Rhiannon was just better at concealing her nerves.
Rhiannon stood slowly and gazed over at Elysium. Elysium screeched in horror as her cousin’s eyes had suddenly turned completely white before rapidly returning to their usual shade of blue. “I think I did it." Rhiannon breathed. “ Did what?” Elysium barked. Rhiannon looked away toward the stairs where the mist was swirling in a rhythmic pattern, “I called for help.” “ What?”
Narelle pursed her lips as she surveyed the scene in front of her. She’d not planned on coming back into the world, but even she had to admit she wasn’t completely unhappy about being given the opportunity to exact revenge on that little bastard Gar and the rest of his little cohorts. She eyed up the two girls in the room. The one that was screeching in the corner was certainly annoying, and she was quite disgusted that she had such a whiny damsel in distress for a great-granddaughter. “I hope you have a good reason for dragging me out of the afterlife girly.” she barked at the other teenager.
Rhiannon stood in stunned silence. She had not expected to call her deceased great-grandmother back from the afterlife. She had thought she would summon Oloros Goldweaver. That was who she had called in her head, but either her gift didn’t work that way or she just wasn’t good enough to summon exactly who she wanted at will. Either way, she was stuck with Narelle.
Narelle smacked her head in frustration, “Great, one of you can’t stop screeching and the other one can’t find her tongue when confronted by the unexpected. And I’ll bet you didn’t bother to plan what you were going to do once I got here too.”
Rhiannon’s short temper flared at Narelle’s comments. She’d never met her great-grandmother in life and now that she’d met her in death, Rhiannon was quite certain that had been a good thing. “I was thrown a little off guard that I summoned you, but I did have some idea of what I wanted to do.” The truth was she had everything planned out, but it had all hinged on summoning Oloros. Now, she wasn’t sure what to do. Narelle laughed, “Oh, I’m sorry. How wonderful that you have SOME idea of what you wanted. That makes me feel so much better.” The continued insults from Narelle’s spirit only infuriated the distraught teen. Rhiannon growled, “If you’re not interested in helping then feel free to go back and rot in hell bitch.” Elysium called shakily from the corner, “Rhia, who on earth are you talking to?” She knew her cousin had a horrible temper and that she tended to use very colorful language when hurt or scared, but she hadn’t thought this situation was as upsetting for her cousin. Apparently, she was wrong. “ Oh no one. Just our great-grandmother that’s going to be responsible for getting our parents killed..”
It was Narelle’s turn to be shocked. She had never imagined that the daughter of Tristen would ever be so outspoken. She smiled at Rhiannon’s fire. “Well, so you’ve got some backbone eh? Well that’s something I suppose.” Rhiannon titled her head back and snorted. They weren’t going to get anywhere standing here arguing. The situation wasn’t ideal, but when in her life had anything been ideal. “ Why would death be any different? So, you said you had some idea of what you were going to do once I got here. Well let’s hear it.”
Rhiannon took a deep breath as she crossed her arms. Her family needed her right now, and standing around arguing with her deceased great-grandmother wasn’t going to help anyone. “I heard father and Uncle Ravi saying that any witnesses that could testify on their behalf from Lantern Yard would be blocked by the guards Gar placed at all the borders leading into the city. Even if they could get through it would likely be too late to help them.” Narelle drew her lips into a thin line as she remembered quite well all the guards that were always kept stationed around the borders, most of them corrupt. They were the type of men that enjoyed killing other men and would be more likely to shoot first and ask questions later. She agreed with her nephew and son-in-law the situation looked grim. Rhiannon explained, “My grandfather told me stories about ancient elf passageways that lead throughout the city.”
“ I thought that perhaps Oloros could show me where the tunnels were and lead me out of the city so I could lead the dark elves back inside before it was too late. But when I saw you here, well. you’re not an elf. But then momma always said that you stood up to Gar and the council for years, so I guess you’d know someway to stop Gar wouldn’t you?” Narelle stood silently for a moment her face an unreadable mask. The girl was right she did know how to help, but she couldn’t do it without putting Rhiannon and her other great-grandchildren in some danger. Many thought she didn’t care about anyone, but Narelle cared deeply for her family. But she couldn’t let Gar succeed in his plans either. And helping Rhiannon was the only way to stop him now. “As it turns out I used those passages throughout my lifetime. I can lead you and the others to what should be a safe haven for them, and then you and I will continue on to find some witnesses that can turn the tide.” She hadn’t made up her mind about them yet, but maybe now would be a good time to ask for their help, but then again it could be disastourous. She’d have to see.
From her side of the room Elysium Walosenko watched only one side of the conversation between Rhiannon and Narelle. She had to admit that it made her cousin look slightly crazy standing there talking to herself. She was even more disturbed when Rhiannon actually suggested that they try to sneak out of the house. “Let me get this straight. You want us to go tromping around Waterfall Springs in the rain with armed guards everywhere? I mean you do realize how absurd that sounds right?”
Rhiannon glanced back over her shoulder, half-way into the elven passage. “I know it’s dangerous Ely, but somehow I don’t think standing around here waiting for our fates to be decided is all that good a plan either. I’m not saying this might not turn out to be a horrible idea, but I can’t just sit around here waiting anymore. I have to try to help them Ely. “
“ I can’t believe I’m doing this.” Ely stood anxiously waiting in the tunnel as Rhiannon crept up a ladder in search of the others.
After a half hour the escaped children found their way to a small cottage at the edge of town. Unlike most of the terrain they had covered this place was well cared for and was full of healthy trees and plants. “Sort of reminds you of momma’s garden doesn’t it?” Xanthe asked in wonder as she surveyed the flowers. “ Who lives here Rhia?” Lir asked curiously. Rhiannon looked to Narelle hoping for an answer, but the old woman was not forthcoming with any new information. “So?” “ Go ahead and walk up to the house. Ask for a Mr. Smith.”
Rhiannon shrugged, but obeyed Narelle’s request. “Excuse me? Mr. Smith, I’m sorry sir, but I needed to speak with you please.” She could hear footsteps falling on the floor just inside and could just see a lone figure moving through the open window. This man was a friend to Narelle, so Rhiannon wasn’t sure what to expect.
The door swung open revealing a white haired old man. He had a very bushy beard and wore a blue vest. To Rhiannon he looked rather sad. He inquired in a soft but firm voice, “I’m sorry miss, but you have me at a loss. Who or what sends six young people dressed for mourning to my doorstep?” Rhiannon took a deep breath and recited, “Here beneath the stars shimmering bright our fates have become forever intertwined. Here where runs the River Mali, here in Echo Valley.”
Mathew Smith slowly descended the stairs and stared at the young girl before him. “But..she…” he stopped and studied this girl’s face with his grey eyes. There was nothing there that he recognized, but for her to know that verse. Only one soul ever sent wayfarers to his door with that message. “I don’t understand how or why, but any friend of Narelle’s is a friend of mine. What is it that you need miss? Rhiannon had not expected “a friend” of Narelle Crumplebottom’s to be this nice. His voice was warm and deep, and it made Rhiannon feel like she did whenever she was with her grandfather. “We’re her great-grandchildren and our parents are in a bit of trouble. Great-grandmother always said that you’d be the one to come to if we needed help. I was hoping the kids could stay here so the guards don’t find them.”
“ You’re Tristen and Ravi’s? My stars, child. Of course you all can stay here. But you said the kids would be staying. No, you should stay here too. I’ll look after you.” Rhiannon smiled, “I’d love to stay here with them, but my parents need my help. I guess you could say I’m probably the only one alive right now who has a shot of getting them the help they need.” “ Well, I guess Narelle put some of her fire into you eh? Well you be careful there miss.” “ It’s Rhiannon. My name is Rhiannon.” “ Well Rhiannon, you be careful whatever you get up to and don’t you worry about the others. I’ll take care of them as if they were my own.”
Xan giggled beside her twin, “He seems nice. I like him Rhia.” Elysium was not as satisfied as the twins or even her younger brother with the whole arrangement. “So, you still mean to go then? Are you nuts?” Rhiannon sighed and ran a hand through her hair. She wouldn’t lose her temper in front of the twins. She wouldn’t lose her temper in front of the twins. “Ely, look we couldn’t stay there. This place is much safer. And yes, I’m still planning on going to find the dark elves. If you don’t want to come that’s fine. I’ll go alone. It might be better for one of us to stay anyway. Just in case.” “ Just in case what Rhia?” Xan asked worriedly. “ In case momma and daddy get back here before I do, Xan. So, they don’t worry.” She hated lying to the girls.
“ Don’t you worry about a thing miss Rhiannon. I may be old, but you’re Narelle’s wee ones. And I always look after Narelle’s people. Whether the old gal liked it or not, I always had her back.” Rhiannon thanked the man again, “Thanks Mr. Smith. I really appreciate this and I know my great-grandma does too.”
The door closed leaving Rhiannon suddenly feeling very alone. Why couldn’t Ely have come with her? After all it wasn’t like the present company was exactly all that welcome. “You had no right to tell him that.” “ Wasn’t it true? Aren’t you glad he helped us?” Narelle replied curtly, “The old passageway that leads to the borders is this way. Come on.”
As the ancient doors creaked closed behind them and they stood within the old passage Rhiannon asked hesitantly, “So you two…” Rhiannon was cut off once again, “That is none of your business. Now come we’ve got a lot of ground to cover and not much time.”
“ If there’s any justice in this world, then the council will have you and your whole family executed for what you’ve done!” Toren looked down at the floor as the recently widowed Lady Landcaster continued to pummel him with insults. Her husband was one of six nobles that had been murdered in the last three weeks and his family was supposed to be behind all of them. He was also accused of burning Lantern Yard to the ground and thus killing countless dark elves and was conspiring against Valenwood with Gal. None of the accusations were true, but the evidence against his family was almost irrefutable. It was his word against dozens of witnesses. He wasn’t sure how he was going to get out of this. He’d not seen any of this in his dreams.
Across the room Lord Galen sighed. He sternly rebuked Lady Lancaster and motioned for her to return to the waiting chambers with the rest of the noblewomen. He understood her feelings, but that was no way to act in the middle of a trial. He planned on running this court smoothly, though he believed the whole trial was pointless. There was no evidence that pointed to the innocence of the four parties in front of them, and the only reason this situation was complicated was because some of the “locals” held these “valen elves” in high accord. Unfortunately the Nectu, some of the gypsies, and even some of the dark elves would probably go to open war with the council if they executed this Toren Vijayakar. So Galen would have to simply lock these four up for the remainder of their lives instead of handing down the full extent of punishment in order to keep the peace with the “natives.”
Galen couldn’t understand why Sunil actually had doubts about this situation. It was obviously a clear-cut case, but then again Sunil was young and had his head filled with all those stories about the magic and greatness of elves. Lady Fields and Lord Vyre thankfully were of a wiser mindset. But at least he didn’t have to force anyone to speak for the traitors. There was one old fool who had a reputation of defending anyone.
Kilian, an old man who spent his days caring for the orphans of Valenwood. He’d been an orphan himself and had grown up in poor conditions, and had made it his life’s work to ensure no other child endured such conditions again. He was known for taking a chance on those others had deemed to be “a lost cause”.
Master Kilian, you have the floor.” Galen yawned absently from his seat and shifted to a more comfortable position as the blind man took a stand in the center of the floor. “ It has been brought before this council that the house of Vijayakar has plotted with the late Lady Crumplebottom to overthrow this council. It has been said that among Lady Crumplebottom’s possessions were found correspondence between Lady Narelle and Toren Vijayakar discussing plans to assassinate key members of the Valen nobility. It was further been claimed that this was to aid Ravi Walosenko in claiming the seat of high councilor upon his grandmother’s death which, would be his right by blood to claim without bloodshed. And this council would do well to remember that Ravi renounced this claim 16 years ago when he swore allegiance to Toren Vijayakar.”
“ Lord Walosenko do you now regret relinquishing your claim?” Ravi looked Galen and the councilors in the eyes, “No, I have never wished for that title. I knew that it was not mine by rights then and I know it is not mine by rights now. Nor is it yours Galen. Your family and mine were made stewards of that seat long ago, and today a man sits before you who can claim it by blood and yet you continue to deny it to him.”
Galen’s green eyes locked with Ravi’s across the room. His glare was hard and icy as he spoke, “If Lord Vijayakar believed he had claim to this seat, then he should have gone through the proper channels. We have laws Lord Walosenko or do you believe these “elves” are above them.” He spat the word elf as he spoke his voice full of venom and hatred. His icy glare turned toward Toren and Tristen. As he prepared to fire more venom from his mouth he was cut short by Kilian’s firm quiet rebuke. “You would do well to remember yourself. You are in the seat of high councilor whether you have right to claim it or not, and venomous words have no place here.”
“ I fear your anger and rage has blinded you to my point. Lord Walosenko clearly stated that he is not interested in the title of chief councilor, and I find it highly doubtful that a man should suddenly change his mind on such a matter after 16 years. The letters which are the evidence convicting these four of murder hinges primarily on the claim that Lord Walosenko and his friends are plotting a hostile takeover. And I also take note that the noble responsible for finding this evidence is not here today. Where is Gar Fairchild? His son was convicted of abusing Toren’s sister by this council and his entire family has been known throughout the land to hold a grudge against Lady Crumplebottom. I find all of this rather disturbing.”
“ You go too far Kilian.” Vyre bellowed from his seat. “Gar has long been my friend and he would NEVER betray his people. Narelle was always undermining this council and the good of OUR people. No doubt she taught her grandchildren to do the same. What Avri did was horrible, but you yourself saw Gar swear to bring his son to justice for his crimes. He wept for days! As to where he is, he is defending our borders from servants of THAT man you are trying to defend. How dare you accuse such a noble man of treason!”
From his place Sunil cringed. He had not for a moment expected his fellow councilors to be full of so much obvious hatred for the other races. He had naively believed that this would be a fair trial, but he saw now that the others meant to find the defendants guilty no matter what evidence was presented before them. He bit his lip and glanced nervously over at Toren. Wasn’t this man supposed to have the gift of prophetic dreaming? Did it not give him warning of what coming here would mean? “Vyre, I am sure that Kilian meant no disrespect. He merely points out questionable points in our case.”
“ No..” Vyre began. “ Sir, I give you the same warning I gave at the start. You would do well to remember yourself. You say that Gar is ever your friend and that he swore to bring his son to justice, and yet five years have gone by and said son has not been brought to trial. A man can say he regrets with his mouth, but still hold hatred in his heart. I tell you the truth this council is full of men with dark hearts. You say that I am blind, and yet you do not see that you have become more blind than I am with your hatred. For here before you stand 4 innocent men and women and yet your eyes are shut to this very truth.”
Galen inwardly rolled his eyes at Kilian’s statements. How typical for the advocate of orphans and the insane to say such tings. He drawled, “Do you have anything further to add Kilian?” Kilian shook his head sadly. He could not make them see, “You’ve obviously already made your descion councilor.”
“ Good. Then we can proceed. Vyre how do you find the defendants.” “ Guilty.” “ Master Sunil?” “ Not guilty.”
“ Lady Fields.” The lone female councilor hesitated her eyes locked with Tristen. She shook her head her momentarily soft gaze growing hard. She locked eyes with Galen and uttered harshly, “Guilty.”
Tristen heard them all. And she looked down as Sara announced her guilt. They’d been friends growing up. She knew Sara’s husband had been one of the men killed, but she’d hoped against all hope that Sara would vote in their favor. Beside her Toren’s eyes had closed and he’d grown completely still. He’d been unmoving throughout the rendering of the verdict against them. No doubt in shock. No doubt thinking about the fate of their children.
Toren slowly opened his eyes. He wasn’t completely sure how he felt about what he’d seen. It was probably best he hadn’t known what she’d been planning before he left. He would have tried to stop her. But then what father wouldn’t try to protect his child? And yet, part of him couldn’t be more proud that his little girl was willing to put her life on the line for others.
Galen smiled smugly from his seat. “Master Vijayakar, please rise.” Toren rose slowly from his seat and stood protectively next to his wife. A small smile had crept onto his face as Galen spoke, “It is the descion of this council that you and your collaborators are hereby…”