Chapter 31

After saying our goodbyes, we left the Aris manor in our family carriage. I hid the tears away from Caleb as we rode away.

“Are you upset, Tia?” My father looked at me and rubbed my hand gently. The soft brush of his fingers was comforting.

“I will miss talking to him; he made this past month…really fun.”

“I’m glad. He is a very astounding young man.”

“I hope he doesn’t forget about me.”

“You shouldn’t worry about something so trivial such as that. If he was willing to risk his life for you and was saved by you, your bond is much stronger than the negatives of time away.”

“Thank you, Father.”

“You’ve certainly have grown quite a lot in such a short time, my dear; maybe this marriage is for the best when it comes to time. I would like to have grandchildren someday.”

“Dad!”

“Sorry, I shouldn’t tease you like that.”

“Hmph.”

“You’re just like your mother. Very independent and lively when it comes to it. I can see the same spark she had in your eyes, Tia.” Closing his eyes, he had a warm, soft smile across his lips. I couldn’t help but think about what my mother really was like.

“Was she strong?”

“Your mother? Very much so. She did give birth to you and your brothers.”

“Father…”

“I know. Yes, she was something extraordinary. Losing her will certainly be a scar I can never recover from, but I at least have her children to remember her fondly and cherish all the more. The forest loved her, and she seemed to be home with nature; her affinity for the world gave her unique attributes.”

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“Was she a druid of old?”

“Quite so, she was the last of her kind. Unfortunately, her bloodline was thinning, and they had lost their connection to the world for years. Even she struggled at times to recall her talents when she wanted to. It was that time your mother met me, and we got married just a few years after and had you kids.”

“She seemed like someone I would have loved to know.”

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“Yes, Tia, you should have…” A hint of sadness washed over him as he gently squeezed my hand; the sorrow and pain of loss still struck deep inside his heart.

After the long journey back home, I became more interested in my blessing. I was convinced that my mother’s last gift to me was the ability to communicate with nature. I won’t ever have her strength as the stories I’ve been told, but what I have now should suffice with time and practice.

Time as an elf had no meaning to us; however, to me, time was a shackle, a curse. I was bound to it by fate. A fate of waiting for the man I held dear inside my heart, the man whom I would marry. Caleb would train hard for my sake; I had to do something to repay him.

So, with time as my shackle, I began to set out on little adventures in our lands, discovering all kinds of creatures, animals, plants, trees, everything. My holy blessing of healing could only improve if I learned more, and I took it upon myself to figure out what I needed to grow.

Hours would turn into days, days into weeks, weeks into months. I found myself less scared of the outside world. The shy little girl was no longer there. Birthing a new Tia, I was determined to look at everything like Caleb. His determination was intoxicating and awe-inspiring. My father didn’t find any trouble in my exploits and reasons for development.

After two years of living a life of adventure and interaction, I was certainly not the little girl anymore. My father made it his goal to remind me how much I had grown, the maturity of my personality and physique. I didn’t know what else he wanted from me other than to let me grow up as strong as my mother. Father didn’t care if I came home with a cut, bruise, or a broken bone. Deep down, he knew. He knew I would always come back, my mother would watch over me through the plants and trees, and my spirit could not be caged anymore.

My name is Tia Eliska, and I am the daughter of Soldia Eliska. And I have prepared myself for the world and its land. Nothing would stop my growth; death would be the only way to stop my goal of seeing my beloved Caleb. Even as small and young as a boy he was, I know he would become a man I would acknowledge, a man I could see myself with, a man who would shape the Kingdoms with his presence alone. And I would stand by him without question…

*

Approaching from the West, a severe storm was on the horizon. Two opposing factions discuss a plan of advancement and action. The soldiers and knights of House Aris stand on guard as the Empire sits across the miles of open field. 

“This stalemate of waiting will drain our supplies before we even see action.” A lowly foot soldier complains. His helm was light and cheap, the spear in his hand used before and worn down.

“Our lords must play this with caution. Our armies have grown significantly; we have extraordinary commanders to lead us, only for our disadvantage; their numbers are greater than ours.” The other foot soldier looks at the army behind him, sitting down and discussing what might happen with their commands among themselves.

Walking from his tent, Valum stared at the grey sky and looked upon the approaching storm. His son Dunick stands alongside him.

“Shall we round up the men?” Dunick turns toward his father.

“Soon, first, we must discuss our tactics to withstand our opponent. Brute force when they have a greater number of soldiers than ours. I think the time to prepare, and charge is when you unleash your order.” Valum places his hand on Dunnick’s shoulder.

“Father, you want me to lead our main force?”

“Precisely. With the two hundred riders, I shall take them around the field under the guise of the storm approaching us. We shall surround them and win this first of many battles when the time happens.”

“Very well, I will not fail.”

“Good Dunick. Now show me the fire that rests behind those eyes.”

Dunick, riding on his father’s faith, mounts his horse. Raising his sword into the air, he commands the soldiers to round up and prepare to charge. Giving commands to those prepared to march to the battlefield. Minutes pass, and Dunick, sword in hand with the ready and focused of his army, sounds the charge, racing into the open field where they will meet the Empire and fight for this field…

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