Music: Many Meetings by Howard Shore from LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring

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Erudima del Fana del Solarion turned to her and tentatively said, “Tuathan…is your mother, Verya?” As Erudima made the connection of Mina to Verya – and therefore to the royal family of Tuatha – Mina realized why Erudima seemed familiar.  Young elven woman, princess of the House del Solarion of Mamban, overly interested in adventures…much like herself when Mina was that age.

And clamoring for escape amid the striving to live up to her title and duty. 

They walked together and Erudima described bits about House del Solarion.  Mina was eager to meet the Queen of the House, learn of their connection to the docks.  Perhaps they could even help us with Rhon Tai.  His name is well enough known. Mina had to also admit that this entire situation intrigued her – was this family Lumeril? Or another sect she was unfamiliar with? Nevertheless, she felt comforted to be in the company of western elves, especially after encountering the Enhathladi. Erudima reminded her of Tuatha.

And, distressed as she thought of her home, the LeyLament tightened her chest. It was growing stronger the longer she stayed away.  Just the slightest thought of home summoned the ache.

Later that night, Mina sat at dinner in the hold, telling tales of the faraway cities they had visited, speaking of the wonders and not the dangers they faced, not the horrors. At her age, I hungered for this knowledge. She regaled Erudima with tales of Rustavi, its gates presided over by an ancient djinn, of H’arun and a dark labyrinth beneath the city – the old city.  She described some of the Despair, and also of Choban-La and Tiflis. She gave details about the architecture, the land around it, the people that resided there, and the ancient history and legends tied to the cities.  

In the evening after they had gone to their rooms, Mina ventured outside to take in the lay of the city.  She could see the cloak of night over the center city, stars unable to penetrate its depths. She casually walked for a short time, thinking on the elven princess and her own similar circumstances.

 I wonder that I wasn’t doing her a disservice by describing only the fantastic.  Mina gazed towards the wharf, the stars hovering over the liquid darkness that was the ocean. I should tell her of the horrors, the scars that will never fully heal. The price one pays for perceived freedom. That prisons exist within you as well as without.

Mina gazed out at the ocean, its unfathomable depths. Freedom is such a powerful word, but who is truly free? She thought of her arm, of collapsing, of waking in the infirmary. We are still pulled into the web – of gods, of power, of politics and time. One duty left behind becomes another duty taken on: there is nothing wrong with following the path set before you by family and tradition. The burden of tradition seems heavy…but the world outside contains things that will tear your comfort from you.

Terrors such as armies of orcs, ruinstorms, the sphinx, sandstorms, people so starving that they attack other people and eat them. The grindylow.  Hordes of trogolodytes. Lizardpeople being sacrificed by demons, the undead. Boxes that devoured innocent children, necromancer queens with visions of power.  Mina shuddered. Your destiny will take shape around you, wherever you may be, through your choices. Irisur will not be a guide.

Does she even have irisur? Or cyrete? These things Mina did not know. Perhaps I am overthinking – her circumstances are not my circumstances, just as Tuatha is not Mamban. Not by half.

Mina held her hand before her, gazing at the signet ring on her hand, intoning the words of the ceremony:

To always remember I am crown Tuatha, and act in according with my birthright.

Mina resolved to speak with Erudima soon, to add the real details of her experiences.

Mina’s petal pink lips curved into a wry, sad smile.  At Erudima’s age, she had believed that it would be a fantastic gift to explore the world.  The hours she had spent talking about it with Arthion, with Arandur and Vendethiel, asking how they would seek their paths. The day dreams she had allowed herself of vanquishing evil and protecting the wilds. Mina had never dreamed that she could actually leave Tuatha; she was Princess.  So when tradition was broken, Mina felt blessed to have such a choice.

But in truth, the Coming of Age had not been Mina’s choice – it was the decision of the Council, and she had merely obeyed.  Mina had thought it a gift of a lifetime, a special honor and opportunity, and that accepting it would not jeopardize the gift she left behind – the throne and crown of her birth. Yet, there had never been a question that she could refuse. Mina had blithely thanked her stars and left, expecting to return a little wiser and stronger.

I truly believed that nothing would change… that I could have both the tradition of Tuatha and the truth of the world.  And now, Tuatha is forever changed…

…as am I.  Mina felt a twist of emotions: there was longing for an innocence that was spent, but recognition of a strength gained.

If Erudima is given the choice to escape her birthright, she should go mindfully. All that she would leave behind may never be the same, may even disappear. She must be willing to make that sacrifice of all that she knows and loves.

Would I have been willing to make it, had I been given the choice?

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