Chapter 17


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Chapter 17

  1. 1. Lore tells us that the Four were each in charge of four Hallows of Power, which in turn channeled all the powers in the Isla. Serena the Graceful kept Amrya, the Hallow of Water. Mirantha the Patient was the guardian of Venya, the Hallow of the Earth. Nalaithe the Ardent wielded Narya, the Hallow of Fire. And the Elf-King, Mirinos the Wise, was in charge of Raya, the chief of the Four, the Hallow of the Winds.
  2. 2. But as the long ages passed, one of the Four began to turn her heart away from the City and the Elves. What was it that first stroked the malice of Nalaithe, keeper of Narya, the Hallow of Fire? Alas, no one truly knows, even today. She had for long kept her dissension hidden, and only the lengthening shadows knew her secret counsels. And yet, whatever the spark was, it was enough to set the world ablaze.
  3. 3. At last, when her hate reached its height, she used whatever strength she had—and that strength was great indeed, for the Power of Fire was in her keeping—and directed it towards dark thoughts. From warmth and life she turned her mind away, and instead she thought of razing and corrupting and destroying and consuming all that stood in her way. She bent all her Power into the reduction of the Isla into ashes.
  4. 4. And power consumed her.
  5. 5. And so, it was from that moment...
  6. 6. ...that Nalaithe the Black, self-styled Dark Queen of the Isla, first emerged in the annals of our histories.
  7. 7. “But we have already heard of her, Mother,” Isildur interrupted. “But she is only a midwife’s tale, told to frighten young children to sleep—or, in any case, to obedience, is she not?” “Perhaps, yes, Isildur. And yet, perhaps it is also true. No one is certain.”
  8. 8. “But what think you, Anarion, my dear child?” “I... I think she is... well... she is somewhat scary, Mama,” Anarion admitted. “What Isi said is true. We have heard of the... well, the Dark Queen... in stories. A little. But still...”
  9. 9. “There,” the King Arthur said. “There. O Jasmin Queen, my heart, I shall say it again: these stories are perhaps not what is best for our children. What is the point, in any case? Even if the stories were true, Nalaithe now is nothing more than a fading memory. Are we not only giving An—I mean to say, are we not only bringing a needless anxiety into our children’s minds?”
  10. 10. “I am surprised indeed—you of all people should know the value of the stories, O Arthur King. Is it not through the stories that we find ourselves? Do we not, by listening to the old epics, learn to express our fears and our desires, and choose to be a hero or a villain? This is why we tell ourselves the stories over and over again, is it not?”
  11. 11. “I suppose you are right, O Queen. Well, I am off. Isildur, you may follow me later into the crypt, if you so wish.” “Yes, Father. ...So, the Dark Lady emerged. What then, Mother?”
  12. 12. Now, Nalaithe, being a former member of the Four, knew that the race of Men was to awake soon in the Isla. With the combined strength of the Hallow of Fire and her dark will she was able to discover the newly roused Men even before the Elves. She saw them in the Forest of Slumber, idle, wild, and naked, finding delight in everything around them, for to them all was young and fresh. They were carefree, knowing naught then of pride nor wealth nor power. And Nalaithe forged a plan.
  13. 13. She sent her emissaries—Elves like her, though less in power, who have also fallen into evil ways—among Men. At first it seemed to Men that their guests were friends bringing words of wisdom and good will, for the emissaries taught them many things, and opened many new horizons.
  14. 14. The High Elves, they were told, ruled nominally over the entire Isla. The Fair Folk were wise and powerful, and they built many wondrous white cities with towering spires. And yet—was it fair, the emissaries asked, that the Elfin Council and its people lord over the entire isle when they barely could fill the land, and indeed keep mostly along the coasts? Were not Men numerous and strong, as the Elves were? Why could not Men be made co-rulers and fill, exploit, and subdue the inlands, at the least?
  15. 15. And the emissaries taught them the mastery of fire, which to this day both serves and betrays all Men...
  16. 16. ...and with fire Men wrought bronze and iron and steel, weapons and industry.
  17. 17. So it came to pass that at length the numerous race of Men, proud and ambitious, were made subject to the Dark Queen whom they worshipped as a goddess. And as the forests withered and died before axe and fire and the plentiful bounty Men once received without great toil disappeared, they grew discontent.
  18. 18. And Nalaithe the Black put forth her solution: that Men should swell her armies and join her in the impending Great Rebellion against the High Elves.
  19. 19. Those who would still cling to the Elves and the old ways were to be weeded out.
  20. 20. And Men were to strike first, and strike hard, at the heart of Elfindom itself.
  21. 21. “I know this,” Isildur said. “This was the First War of legends, is this not? It was a dark day, a bloody day, and the hordes of Men came yelling and crashing against even the very gates of Elfinar itself. And the Elves with their bright armor and keen swords and sure bows stood their ground.” “Yes, Isildur. That terrible battle in the White City is remembered by some even unto this day.” “Remembered, Mother?”
  22. 22. “Oh, yes—or, at least, so some claim. Terrible the Battle at Elfinar was, and a great part of Men and Elves were slain needlessly, and fire ravaged the city’s beautiful towers and lush gardens. But even as the Fair Folk gave way before Nalaithe’s thralls there was one in Elfinar who stood still, his sword at the ready, and it is through his account that we still tell these stories up to this day.” “But who is this witness, Mother?”
  23. 23. “Can you not guess? Isildur? Anarion?” “The Elf-King, Mama! He must have been there to fight with his people.” “That is nonsense, ‘Narion. There is no Elf-King. He is only a legend, a fairy tale.” “Oh, I would not be so sure, Isildur, my son.”
  24. 24. But whether the Elf-King does or does not exist is perhaps of little importance now to our story, for even those who believe may for now suspend their judgment. But for those who do believe, they shall know that in those days the Elves were almost overrun. Lending their sinews and spirits to the Dark Queen’s cause, Men were able to drive the High Elves into a desperate last stand by the Great Fountain.
  25. 25. Untold numbers of Elves caught unarmed and harmless perished, caught between fire and bloodied steel.
  26. 26. The age of Elves was failing.
  27. 27. It seemed, at last, that Nalaithe the Black would have the victory. And perched atop the burning heights of the City, seeing the blind carnage she had caused by setting Men against Elves, Nalaithe laughed.
  28. 28. But it was at that moment, when all hope had failed, that the White Witch emerged to challenge Nalaithe and her foul sorcery.
  29. 29. It was a terrible battle, though the greater part of Men and Elves only heard distant rumbling and saw flashes of terrible new stars as if from afar. And yet upon the heights of the City of Elfinar Power was matched against Power: arrayed against Nalaithe’s unholy fire and malicious will were the White Witch’s bright light.
  30. 30. “And, in the end, Nalaithe was defeated, and her form was broken and cursed into the shadows, and there she remains, so the Wise say.” “But what of this White Witch?” “She, too, was lost. No book of lore has ever revealed who she was or where she lived. All that we can say is that the White Witch saved the Isla, and then... she vanished.”
  31. 31. “But what about the Elves, Mama? They were saved, were they not? And yet we see no Elves these days.” “Yes, indeed, Nalaithe’s army scattered and the Elves were saved. But being saved does not always mean that everything is to return as they once were, my dear Anarion. For every War of Power that happens in this Isla, there is always a price to pay, a sadness to follow. After the First War, the High Elves found their numbers dwindled, their beautiful cities in ruins, and their joys shattered.”
  32. 32. “It was then that the great part of the remaining High Elves decided to forsake the Isle and sail across the Sea, never to return unless perhaps at some unforeseen summer’s day.”
  33. 33. “Ah, this is where I make my leave,” Isildur said. “I truly am sorry, Mother—but Father does expect me downstairs.” “Of—of course, my child. Off you go, then.” And his mother having said that, young Isildur, the Heir Apparent, left the sitting room. Seeing Anarion stay, however, the Queen asked, “How about you, my love? Would you not want to join your brother?”
  34. 34. “Oh, I would, but... well, I like listening to your stories, Mama. Besides, I cannot keep up with Isi. Even if I want to do so, I cannot. I am not as big nor as strong as my brother. Swords and horses and battles are his province—but not mine.” “Is that so? Is this what you think? But what does my Anarion want? What would be his province?” “I... I want to learn more of the old days, Mama. I want to know more of the High Elves and, well, their history. I... I guess I am more of a listener, really.”
  35. 35. Well, then. We shall continue. As we have said, the Elves finally decided to flee the Isla. They loved the land, it was true, but they had begun to see that their power had faded and that the time has come for Men, for better or for worse, to dominate the Isle.
  36. 36. And so it was with great sadness that the Elves, in long solemn processions, abandoned their cities and made their way into the ports. The chief of these ports was at White Harbor in the southwest, near the City of Elfinar. There, guarded still by the Elfin hosts, the Fair Folk fled, and the port’s wide gates saw the passing of many Elves beneath beautiful but sad banners.
  37. 37. And thus the High Elves took to the ships and bade farewell to the land they once loved...
  38. 38. ,,,leaving all memory, all pain, and all grief behind them.
  39. 39. “So is that it, Mama? All the Elves just... left?” “Oh, no—not for us who, in the first place, believe the old stories. For it is said that the Elf-King and his retainers remain even now, watching and waiting, preserving what may be preserved.”
  40. 40. “No, the last Elfin ship has not yet sailed, Anarion, child.”
  41. 41. “I... I think it is sad, Mama, that the Elves are gone.” “So it is. Much more would have been gained were Elves and Men stand together.” “Yea, I thought so, too. Aie, if only the olden days were to return, Mama! It would be a most wondrous thing, I suppose.”
  42. 42. “Well, who knows? Perhaps all would someday be brought back—and yet be better than before. It is what we all hope. Perhaps, my dear Anarion. Perhaps.” * * *
  43. 43. But perhaps it would be better if we are to first trace the goings-on throughout the Isla. Even before Isildur and Anarion sat listening to the Queen Jasmin’s stories of Elves and ancient battles, a child in the next house was all set to grow up. “Isidra! I am glad you could come!” Eowyn exclaimed. “Of course I’d come, Eowyn. I’d be a bad friend if I were to ignore your requests, right?”
  44. 44. “Besides, I heard your mother was giving away free toys. A new line in her workshop, apparently—and all the kids want one.”
  45. 45. “Ah, I knew there was an ulterior motive.” “Haha! Don’t worry, Eowyn. I and the others came mostly as friends. ...Though having a slice of good cake never did hurt anybody.” “Oh, I love you too, Isidra.” “I know, I love me too!”
  46. 46. “Jeannie!” “Bel-Bel. Glad you could come.” “And I, for one, am glad to see you are having no more adventures, Jeannie. Why, look, you are better off safe and in one piece!” “Oh, well—I’d really love to blow myself up, but sadly, that would not do. I do have a child to raise and all.”
  47. 47. Soon enough, it was time for the child in question to grow up. And that, Eowyn did amid a small celebration with family and friends. “And the caaake, Eowyn, remember! Shaaaaare the caaaaake!”
  48. 48. “Alright, alright!”
  49. 49. “But it would cost you.” Eowyn grew up rather well, didn’t she? She is a Fortune/Family Sim with the LTW of becoming a... wait for it... yep. Criminal Mastermind. Though with those 10(!) Nice Points I’m sure she’ll leave a note of apology for every crime done. And then she’ll refurbish everything a the next day.
  50. 50. “And, yes, my Eowyn did try and charge her friends for her birthday cake. But, Nice is as Nice does, so in the end she auctioned it for only one gold piece. Still, such a display of entrepreneurial skills, no? And she is industrious and all. Perfect for your worthy institution, I daresay.”
  51. 51. “Oh, is that so, Missus—?” “It is ‘Miss,’ actually, Headmaster. By the way, have I already shown you my wonderful sword collection?” “Ah. No. But your daughter—Eowyn, yes?—is, of course, welcome to our school. There is no question, no question at all, regarding that matter.”
  52. 52. “Well. Wow. Private school! Thank you, Jeannie.” “Do not mention it.” “Of course.” “No, I mean, seriously. Do not mention the sword collection to just about anyone. You might still use that card for the next generation.”
  53. 53. Eowyn did rather well in private school, of course. Moreover, she began meeting new people. Her nice disposition made it rather easy for her to adjust and make more friends.
  54. 54. As for Jeanne, she was reaping success in her endeavors. With the income from both her job and her workshop, she was able to expand the Tourblanc Residence into a veritably formidable white tower, complete with a stable and a loft for her magical experiments.
  55. 55. Jeanne was even able to landscape herself a small garden, thanks to the tree seedlings and the odd stone artifact she had acquired in her exploits as a one-time Criminal Mastermind.
  56. 56. All in all, it was all good, Jeanne concluded. (And, yes, the sword collection was not a lie.)
  57. 57. But... was it, really? “Oh, great, it’s your avatar. Still badly dressed as ever, I see.” “Jeanne, I do not have the time for the usual shenanigans. You know how lazy and introverted I am—I do not come out unless I really have something important to say.”
  58. 58. “Wait, does this involve me and my family again? Another long-lost relative to save? Or another kitten to settle down on solid ground? But I have adventure-retirement plans. Being a stay-at-home person has been rather great for my complexion.” “Jeanne, you’d have to ditch your plans, sorry. I need you to do something for me...” * * *
  59. 59. “Eowyn! Just in time—”
  60. 60. “You guys are all tall!” Zane ended up saying. “Oh, we have just grown into teens,” Eowyn replied. “Today is your birthday, Zane, right? So you would be just like us in no time.” “I wonder. What is it like, being older?”
  61. 61. “Well, I’ve just turned older, myself, so I can’t really say anything yet. But the others—the kids in the Orphanage, remember?—got there earlier than us.”
  62. 62. “And it’s all great, or so Isidra says. We get to cook our own meals, go about the City during evenings, and, well, ‘boss the smaller ones around.’” “Oh, no. I don’t think I’ll want to do that.” “Nor I, actually. She said there’s one downside, though. Less energy.”
  63. 63. “But how about you?” Eowyn asked. “How have things been going around here?” “...And I’ll bet you a silver piece that he will grow up fiiine—” “Isidra! Not within his hearing!” “Um... don’t mind them, Zane. Isidra’s Romance aspect is fairly manageable, don’t worry.”
  64. 64. “Okay. You remember my brother Cirdan, yes?” “Yea, Jeannie visits here from time to time. She tells me everything.”
  65. 65. “It was his birthday a week ago. We even had cake.”
  66. 66. “And he turned out rather well.”
  67. 67. “He’s very, very talented, too. ...Though sometimes I suspect he’s using more than logic when we play chess. But that’s okay—I beat him a fair number of times, anyway.”
  68. 68. “Momma and Papa have enrolled Cirdan and I into private school.”
  69. 69. “Our little sister Luthien still can’t go, though. But that’s okay. She’s learning very fast, so private school or not, she’s still our smart little princess.”
  70. 70. “And, there. Cirdan and I are doing the best we can to make Momma and Papa proud. All’s great!” “That’s nice, Zane. Hey, I think it’s time, now.”
  71. 71. “Happy birthday, Zane!” “Yea, make a wish!” “Yea, and wish you’d be hot!” “...Isidra.”
  72. 72. “What? Oh, for the Elves, Zane, just make your wish...”
  73. 73. “Alright! There. I’ve made my wish.” And after smiling to his little crowd of friends and well-wishers, Zane Labouis blew the candles and turned to his face a new phase of his life.
  74. 74. SRSLY, though. I think he fits the colonial theme rather well.
  75. 75. “Alright! Welcome to the slightly older children’s community, Zane! We’ve got half-eaten cake.” “Ha-ha. Thanks, Isidra, and all you guys.” “It’s nothing. Heck, we orphans should be the ones thankful for not forgetting us. And I’m doubly thankful you made me win that bet. By Elves! Ha!” Then, Isidra added, “Well, I guess you can’t tell us your wish (as it’s bad luck), but, heeeey, if your Family aspect, you know...”
  76. 76. “That’s quite nice of you, but... I think I’ve already got someone in mind.” “Really? Who—ooooh!” Isidra exclaimed, seeing where Zane’s eyes were directed. “Not a bad choice, there.”
  77. 77. “But, really, though... I’m sorry if...” “Geesh, Zane, I never knew you’re such a worrywart,” Isidra interrupted. “Nooo problem, really. We Romancers just hit on everybody, and then we recover easily.” “But—” “Well, no, I guess that’s a bad stereotype, but don’t worry about me. You’re cute, but not my kind of cute.”
  78. 78. “...Well, if you say so... but for the record, Isidra, you look great.” “Wow. Thanks?” “It’s just that... well... I’m waiting for someone else.”
  79. 79. “Ah, well. Dang, that’s really unfortunate.” But Isidra was grinning. “Still, nothing lost in me trying. We’ve got a history, after all.” “...We... we do? I mean, we were good friends in the Orphanage, but I really didn’t know—” “Oh, Zane, I was just teasing. You’re such an adorable little kid. Never change, okay?” * * *
  80. 80. “’... The sepulcher shall be your first kiss.’ But who? To whom do these staves apply?”
  81. 81. Days after hearing the prophecy, the King Arthur had continually asked himself the same question. Danger was hanging upon his—his!—own children, but which one? “Papa! Papa!” Isildur laughed even as he ran towards him. Arthur allowed himself a smile. “Well, Isildur, my Heir! On your legs, already? Why, you may yet be such a strong man in time—but it is rather too early, now, is it not? Your mother would be distressed if she sees you awake so early.”
  82. 82. “...Sleep again?” “For a little while longer, son. Then your legs will grow bigger and stronger.” “Oww!”
  83. 83. “Anarion!” Arthur immediately bent over his second child. A little bump stood out against his face, red and angry. “Are you hurt?” “...’S...s’okay... P-Papa. Want t-toy, is all.” But Arthur could not but worry. After some time Isildur had already shown signs of development: his limbs were firm, and his grip was steady. Anarion, however, was always stumbling, always slipping. His arms were thinner, more fragile. Perhaps...
  84. 84. “You have to be more careful, Anarion. The toybox’s lid is very heavy. What if it snapped shut and slammed against your neck?” “S-sorry, Papa.” “I would not want you to take the toys our all by yourself, alright? Wait for me or for your mother.” “O-okay.”
  85. 85. Meanwhile, the Queen Jasmin took no chances with the children’s welfare. From Jeanne’s workshop she acquired a Servant to help manage the palace’s domestic affairs.
  86. 86. “Arise, Servant, and with fealty manage this House. This shall be your service.” “I hear and obey, milady.” “Very well. And you shall be known as Guinevere.”
  87. 87. From that day on, Guinevere took good care of the household, especially the children.
  88. 88. And soon it was time for the twin boys to grow into children.
  89. 89. “Are you ready, my little Heir?” “Isildur grow big and strong! Like Papa.” “Yes, my son. Yes, you will.”
  90. 90. Indeed, Isildur proved to be a winsome Heir, for his outgoing and forward character endeared him to many. Even then his bright green eyes and his strong jaw made him handsome, and much like his father and his grandfather, whom people still remembered.
  91. 91. Anarion, on the other hand, was rather thinner and seemed to recall more his mother’s features.
  92. 92. The King Arthur spared no time in rearing Isildur to be a great Heir. “Remember, Isildur. A King is as strong in battle as he is as just upon his throne. He is first in every assault, and last in every retreat. His sword’s tip is ever pointed towards the enemy, and his mind towards wisdom, his heart towards honor. Do you understand my meaning?”
  93. 93. “Yes, Father.” “Very well. We shall resume training your swordsmanship tomorrow.” “Can I come along, Papa?” “Well... yes, of course, Anarion—though perhaps... perhaps in some other time. Real blades are dangerous to wield, after all. And if it is you—I mean, you might get hurt.”
  94. 94. In the course of time Isildur proved himself of sturdy arms and nimble limbs, capable of outrunning, outwitting, and outmaneuvering everyone his age in the field. The practice of arms delighted him, and he cared not for stories and histories, unless these were about the ancient and glorious wars. So it was that everyone marveled at Isildur’s person and prowess, and many saw the lineage of the noble Mercators in his skills and image.
  95. 95. Anarion, although he was also fond of activity and was an amiable character in his own right, kept to his studies and found joy in listening to his mother’s tales, especially regarding the High Elves. And so he grew in wisdom and in understanding, but to many it seemed that in the art of battle and soldiery, of which kings and princes were supposed to excel, Anarion lagged ever behind his brother.
  96. 96. These and more began to trouble the Queen Jasmin’s mind. For she was half of the Elfin race herself, and though she would not live forever as the High Elves, still her life’s span would far exceed her husband’s and perhaps even her children’s. Moreover, there was the prophecy and its ominous words. In the end, she resolved to do as her gypsy friends advised.
  97. 97. The Queen went forth to see Her. Her dwelling, the Queen knew (or so one could say, though indeed she employed a great amount of guesswork as well), laid hidden at the heart of the Forest of Slumber, from where a great aura of native power still sprung. But instead of a lofty tower or a mighty castle, the White Witch lived in a simple solitary hut, surrounded by a garden of lovely trees and flowers. And the Queen saw, from afar, a tall white figure likewise studying her.
  98. 98. “So the Queen Jasmin, daughter of the Elf-King’s daughter, arrives. Come! This is as was long ago foreseen.” “Yes, I come at last, though I hoped things would not come to this. But tell me, and tell me true, where is the White Witch?” “What? What is this? Surely you are not looking for someone else. The many who seek Her find themselves addressing me.”
  99. 99. “And this is why many find Her not,” the Queen answered. “What is fair is not always what is White.” “But do not the stories often tell of great and beauteous ladies who keep watch of the Powers?” “Yea, but one must perceive beyond the stories. Surely those who have seen as much years as you and I have already seen enough not to be deceived by what is seen.”
  100. 100. “Aie, your Majesty, I see that you are not one to be taken in. Old many might call us—but there are those older than us still, and the older roots are the stronger.” “Though I may say that, if we speak of novices, you are quite near to achieving that age and wisdom. I sense Power here, and some of it comes from you.” “Your Majesty is very kind. She is in the hut, waiting for you.”
  101. 101. “Well, Apolline, child, we really must not keep the Queen waiting. And besides, we have little time for idle chat—my back, how it hurts. Do tell her to come in.” “Yes, Mother. If her Majesty so pleases...”
  102. 102. “Do forgive my daughter, Apolline,” the White Witch said as Queen Jasmin stepped into the hut; the former seemed busy concocting some potion in her cauldron. “It was unnecessary for you, perhaps, to be put into the Test. But it is our way of keeping the foolish and the vainglorious Men out.”
  103. 103. “After all, there are so many things to do, and it would not do to be disturbed.”
  104. 104. “Then I am sorry for having disturbed—” “Bah, none of that,” the White Witch said. “The Elf-King’s descendant is most welcome to our aid. Besides, it is chiefly because of you that we especially do not want to be disturbed these days. But we tarry. What can I do for you, child?”
  105. 105. “But perhaps you already know of prophecy, as the gypsies do?” “Yes, I have heard of it. And it is both great news and sad. ’The sepulcher shall be your first kiss’ is the last stave, I believe. I see you are worried about this.” “Does this truly mean, then, that one of them—?”
  106. 106. “Maybe. But then, maybe not, your Majesty. Some stories are set in stone. Others are still to be written down. How can we tell which is which until the events unfold?” “Then I have to take this risk. I hoped things would not come to this.” “Really? I wonder... but come, follow me.”
  107. 107. The White Witch led the Queen once more outdoors. Standing before her throne and her Hallow of Power—for she was in possession of one—the older one continued: “Now you must choose, and choose wisely. You are aware that the spell of Protection requires great Power—and that Power is to be taken from your vitality. If you shall press on, then you will lose the grace of Elfin blood: your life is shortened, your body subjected to disease and human pain, your sight dimmed, your skill diminished. Do you still persist?”
  108. 108. “Yea, I do. What is Elfin grace to me if my family is to fall apart around me?” “Well, then.” The White Witch extended her open palms to the Queen Jasmin. “Then how shall things go? Do you wish to forestall the prophecy and save he whom the Fates have doomed?”
  109. 109. But the Queen answered, “No. I only wish to make secure my son, Anarion.”
  110. 110. “Indeed? But suppose Anarion is not he—” “No, perhaps he is not,” Jasmin admitted. “But even so, I choose him.” “If you so wish, then.”
  111. 111. “Take my hands.”
  112. 112. And thus the White Witch uttered words from an ancient language, performing her spell. The effect was immediate: the Queen staggered back, her knees giving way as she felt her life’s force drained from her, passing into the older woman.
  113. 113. The White Witch, on her part, erupted in a blaze of bright light. “It is done,” she announced in the midst of her radiance.
  114. 114. And as the light faded... “You... you...!” “Yes, child. Your age is added into mine. What did you expect? That I should turn younger? Power hardly works that way. The day I grow young again is the day I forego of all my Power.”
  115. 115. “I thank you, Eldest, for this.” “It is nothing,” the Witch said. “Your family’s interests are mine as well. From that line may yet spring the Isla’s hope.”
  116. 116. “But what I do not understand is... why Anarion? That was a blind gamble from your part, your Majesty.” “It is, indeed, and even now my mind races back to it. But if the Fates have already decided, then what protection can save my children? Moreover, Isildur is already under his father’s guidance and watch. It is now my calling to mind our other son.” “This is an interesting reasoning,” said the Witch. “Most people would want certainty. They would have so worded their wish so that they would spare whoever should be spared.”
  117. 117. And yet, as the Queen turned to go, she breathed, “But what surety can we ever have, Eldest?” “None, child. It is both our trouble and our fortune. So you have learned this, too? At least one still lives who listens to the stories. No, not even the wisest can say whether our Isla will indeed be saved. But let me tell you this: no mother’s sacrifice is ever pointless. Those who crave surety have not seen this yet.”
  118. 118. “Yes, it is as I hope. And I put my hope in that risk, in that ‘perhaps’. Fare you well, Eldest. Maybe things will turn out well.”
  119. 119. “Fare you well, child. For all our sakes, I hope it will.”
  120. 120. “...So the histories have so far said, Isildur, my son,” the King Arthur said. Before them the Elf-King’s sword glittered, its light strong and unbroken. “History will repeat itself. But when it does, we shall be ready. You shall be ready. You shall protect the weak, avenge the wronged, and set things right.”
  121. 121. “Remember those who have gone before us, and do as they have done. Stay the course and keep yourself true, and, as our history has proven, you shall do great things. Do you understand this meaning?”
  122. 122. “Yes. I do, Father. I shall be strong. I shall be true and sure. For I am the Heir.”
  123. 123. Credits: Thanks to Ang/peasant007 for Zane (The Devereaux Legacy). Elves and Ladies are mostly LOTR inspired.