Music: Twilight and Shadow from Howard Shore’s Lord of the Rings: Return of the King soundtrack.

She stands before the waters of the deepest lake.



It was as if a thick mist, a crackling energy, distracting and unclear. It was not quite silence…it was disturbance…disconnection.

Mina’s felt her roots pull back into her body, her eyes clicking open to the jungle vegetation around her; the dark greens and even dim sunlight were inordinately comforting after the days underground. She could even withstand the humidity so thick that she could barely breathe –it was certainly better than the dankness of the cavern. How she might be the leader of a race of people who preferred that world…


They are not going to stop following us. None of them.

Deep in the cavernous tunnel torn through the earth just above the dragon passage, Mina surveyed the sleeping group with some sense of wonder, gaze pausing onto her own retinue keeping watch with her – Relzran and Zhiv. In the darkness of the hole, the forms were difficult to pick out, even for her. But she knew they were there, and wondered if they had any uncertainty of their reasons for their dedication to her.

The memories she had seen in their eyes–through their eyes— the experience of ancient bonds of slavery and oppression; even if the prophecy was a trick of Asmodeus and his ilk, planting a legend at her birth to collect upon later, the deed was done. She had taken on the mantle of their queen, and they recognized her as such.

A queen’s life is not her own. Even as the thought leapt into her mind, Mina instinctively sought deep within herself for the Bonding, to be comforted by the bittersweet connection to home.  It was less jarring, now, to find the hole there, the emptiness where once millenia of voices echoed and sang within her. Now it was her own lonely voice, set free to wander aimlessly, the Song of the Root a haunting echo dissipating into the deepest chasm.

A sigh escaped her and she stretched her neck upward, angling left and right; she was deep into the third hour of her watch. The retrievers. The green-dragon armor rangers. The Black Dragonflight. The Red Dragonflight. The Metallum Eternum. Firliadeth and the Weavers. The Telestari.  The Gods. It felt as if goodness were so very far away, breathing its last breath among the waves of evil and destruction that crashed continually onto the earth, drowning hope.

Even moreso, the line defining goodness from evil was blurred such that the shapes no longer seemed distinct, no longer a light in the darkness.  Mina was reminded of the abomination that Old Conor spoke of –the lantern that caused such madness that the very flesh was unbalanced; she shivered with horror.

I need to get out of this hole; back into the sunlight.  Again, her gaze slipped to where she knew the dark stalkers stood guard.  This must be the closest to home they have been in some time, far beneath the earth…

One more hour till sleep, which would bring no peace.

Lynx left Mina’s cabin at Nisala’s request, and Mina sighed heavily. Everything is twisted up. Inside and outside.

Lynx, along with Milisandria, had saved Mina’s life from the beast.  The beast I conjured…with that song. The beast that nearly killed both Milisandria and I.


<in elven>

Dear Erudima,

I’m sorry that I could not see you once more before we left. I thought it would be delightful to speak with you again, and talk more personally about what your dreams are, and what the adventuring life is truly like.  I will endeavor to tell you of the latter in this letter, so that you might have a better understanding of what is out there.

I spoke at our dinner of such romantic things as the many places we have been, the sites we have seen. I kept to the tales that might delight and make for good stories; like a bard embellishes what is of most interest rather than the whole of the truth.

I can imagine that you have much the same background I did – duty of ascending to the leadership of your people, feeling somewhat trapped by the circumstances, torn between love of your city and longing for your freedom and own view of the world. The whole of the world seems to carry more mystery and promise than the twisted streets one has known for so long.

The truth is that each of those romantic outside places contains dark things and great dangers. Sights I never wished to see in my life I have experienced on this journey. On an errand task for King of H’arun, we took a wrong magical door and found ourselves miles from the warfront up north, a land that hates elves. We had to evade whole armies of orcs and brigands, just to begin to head south again towards our goal.

We encountered many terrors: people so starving that they were killing other people and consuming them, the evils of the ruinstorms with rains that tear flesh from the bone, the darkness of the undead in the swamps of the Vestrille, desecrated temples, tortured people, the killing of mothers and children by orcs or magical means.

Now the whole of the world faces the orc armies, fighting them off.  It is difficult to get anywhere now. Even my own home of Tuatha is under siege, and Lesotho, only a short way from Mamban, fights off the armies daily.  The world is not what it used to be.

And that is part of another thing that I have learned on my travels.  That which you leave behind may not, most likely will not, be waiting for you if you return. Once you choose to leave your birthright behind, that right, and all those you love, may no longer remain when you return. Time changes all things, and not only will it change your home, but it will change you.

I think perhaps we do not appreciate that which we already have when we look to greener places.  Nor do we appreciate that the path of ascending to lead others can be just as rewarding as seeking adventure.

I wished I had considered such things before I left my home. While I do not believe that I know what is the right answer for you, I hope that I am able to at least provide some clarity regarding alternate paths. The path of “adventure” is just as hard as the path of the royal heiress, just in different ways.

You and your family have been quite kind to us while we visited, and I recognize all that your family does to maintain the ways of the Light in Mamban.  Please be careful no matter what you choose.  I am certain you will be a great Queen of the House Del Solarion of Mamban.  From what I’ve seen of Mamban, Queen of a Ruling House is as much an adventure as anything else!

Yours in light,

Minaethiel Ellethwen
(wax seal of the Princess of Tuatha)


It was then that Mina spied what seemed impossible. The broken demon familiar, his claws still clutching a worn book, fluttered by.  The same small demon that the Enhathladi had summoned.

A shock of surprised sped up her heart – Mina no longer believed in coincidence in this world.  She immediately began to follow the demon…back into the Center City.


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

*    *    *

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. 


Next Page »