by N.A Miller
Sequel to Healing Starlight - FanFic Inspired story from Strands of Starlight - G. Baudino
|A cold wind whipped as a steady snowfall of winter settled over the region known as Adria. The area is a fertile valley by the Aleser Mountains from the northern sea, to the lands in the south. It is the time of change in this region, what the elves would have called the day of completion, where everything old is discarded making way for new. Walking alone, a cloaked figure makes his way along the paths deep in forest known as Beldon Forest. An elf named Rijiin L’Theil, once a resident of this land, has returned to his adopted home after one hundred and forty years away. He had merely lost his way one fateful night during a great blizzard that had swept over the land, and found far away from Adria. Howevewr, he had saved the life of a villager who had been lost in the forest, and brought them back, almost giving his life to save theirs in the severe freezing cold. |
Before that, however, he was also human once, having been a traveler and coming to this realm out of time and space over a hundred years ago through a portal from the future. One in which he had not expecing to find when his adventures had started on a cold wet morning, somewhere in the twentieth century and Rijiin had not been seeking to jump through time and space, having even been seeking the portal in the mall known as Eastridge out of San Jose, CA. His adventure, when it started, had done so simply. It had started with his arrived at the mall, a couple hours early on a cold, frosty morning for a gathering of people from an online Bulletin Board System (BBS).
As he walked, Rijiin remembered his adventures starting out when he found the shop before he went to the Bulletin Board gathering, and how interesting they were. He had tried them first before he would appear at gathering at the Red Robin ™ on the west side of the mall and siting for two hours where he was snubbed by many at this gathering. He had already made a mental note to leave if it would be this way, and did so, leaving to the shop, finding the portal and a great adventure would begin for him. The young human would leave out of time and space from the twentieth century, to the fourteenth century. There he had been wounded, and by the grace of Elven magic had been changed by their healing energies, becoming fully Elven when his humanities had been stripped away. A body would return to the future, a grizzled mass of mutilated flesh that would make up what would remain of what he was human, found by two young high schoolers on their way to the mall on a weekend. A big event would happen, where the authorities would be involved, suspecting murder as a charge toward the suspects who were on the Bulletin Board System. Charged when they openly admitted that many didn't like him, but their alibi had been strong, with the same story of seeing him alive outside the shop in Eastridge, and having slipped away from them when he went inside the store. A last time that anyone would see him alive until a couple of high school students found his dismembered, mutilated body several months later.
When the elf had changed, he had given up the future for the Harper, known among the elves, as Natil, a beautiful young woman whom he had found love and companionship here in this new time. The young man had nothing in the future, finding his own renewal in his transformation and perhaps healing, staying where he seemed to fit in and belong, despite he was brought up and lived in the future. Here he would find astounding beauty, among the bleak and soiled history of mortal men, becoming immortal to live for all times. He had also found adventure there as he explored the realm, having fought and slain many a solider and clergy belonging to the Inquisition who called the Elves, demons and heretical beings. A reason to hate, and a reason for him to slay them.
It had been the same thing when he had returned, one hundred and forty years after he had become lost because of the blizzard that had descended across the land. When he stepped off the ship in the familiar sea port known as Maris, and where the Inquisition fully held the city in check with fear and paranoia toward heretics, where many a person might find themselves in the dungeon where they would be tortured and killed. Rijiin had openly passed through the gate, traveling openly, and passing through the inner arch leading into the city. He is clad as he was, in the green and gray garb of his people. He also had his hair tied back, revealing his fair features and slender ears. Rijiin also blatantly carried the blade at his side, an elfish dagger on his belt that indicated who, and what he was. He was an elf, an immortal that had helped and healed many in this realm among humans, also having slain many soldiers and clergy of the Inquisition.
As he walked through the town of Maris, he was ready for anything the likes of the Inquisition could dish out, his strength tempered by his traveling through the ages, and hard like the steel he carried at his side. The only thing that Rijiin really had been going for him was his knowledge of time and already seeing a century of horrors in one hundred years. He had seen many battles, wars and death among martyrs of history. Warriors that Rijiin had fought bravely alongside in battle. He had also seen their passing, unable to help them survive, their fates already marked in the winds of history. The elf learned the experience of living through these times, mostly to have understanding and patience for the world around him. However, despite it all, he also remained very passive, perhaps mindful as he walked the streets of cities. He had little fear of a religion that had persecuted the elves for centuries and would be the organized religion that sent the remaining immortals into the very confines of extinction. Rijiin had walked along the street in Maris, receiving many glances and overhearing the few mutterings among soldiers and common folk alike.
“Apparently they do not approve that I am here.” He thought, as he held his head defiantly high, but met the looks with a friendly nod.
“Blessings,” He said simply. Rijiin greeted the people he passed openly, “Good day to you.”
He studied their reactions, and sometimes he got a response, other times not. He sensed their conditioned fear and hatred spurned by the control of the Inquisition who held this city in check.
“Even in this day and age the persecution of the Inquisition carries on, even after one hundred and forty years with little change.” He grimaced, remembering his pledge to understand humans and their ways.
“Soldiers…! Arrest that creature by the name of God!” A voice shouted.
The elf groaned, sighing quietly as he half turned., his back deliberately to the soldiers and clergy. Casually he dropped his hand to the pommel of the sword at this side.
“Alright... Here we go...” The elf thought, and grimaced tightly as soldiers moved in toward him. The elf unfastened the safety catch of his blade, readying it for a fight. Swords drawn, they ran toward him from all directions and he turned his head to meet the intense looks on their faces.
At first, the elf sensed the determination that showed on the faces of many and fear from the others. The young elf let his hand rest on the sword handle before he drew the blade. There was hesitation from the soldiers when they saw the flash of steel, and Rijiin stood waiting almost impatiently for the fight to begin. The soldiers had not recognized the strange blade, well used as it was from another place and time. They glanced confused at the priest who screamed at them.
“Arrest him or you will be sent to stake in his place.”
“Who is it that interferes with business of others, and who needs twenty men against one?” Rijiin said aloud, his voice thick with the Elven inflection and there was a pause as the soldiers stood there hesitantly. The soldiers found themselves puzzled by his question.
“Very well, who is first to be slain, which of you have made the decision to die?” Rijiin exclaimed quietly holding his now drawn blade, “I am a creature of peace, and who does not take life. However, if you insist, I am thy death.”
The elf stood waiting as he cast a gaze to each of the soldiers around him. It was his question that had made the soldiers glance at each other and hesitant to act. Rijiin sensed they did not want to die, and now were faced on making a choice among themselves. They glanced at the priest, and back to the elf. The priest continued screaming at them to no avail.
After a few minutes elapsed, a soldier stepped forward as he drew his blade with a shout, and Rijiin responded by parrying his attack. The elf let his blade move swiftly in one motion, and without a word had beheaded the young soldier, exactly and precisely where he stood. There were screams as the common folk, the priests and soldiers stared at him. No one had been prepared for the display by the elf, who had clearly warned them. A few more soldiers stepped forward to meet the same fate as their comrades while the priest continued shouting orders to the guards. A few minutes later, when there were at least six dead, and twelve wounded men, the Captain of the guard stepped in, and he stopped the fight.
“Enough.” The captain said, “Please no more.”
He motioned to the guards who stood before Rijiin, and they moved back. The elf peered at the living and hurt soldiers. His gaze fell upon the bloodthirsty crowd as the elf waited for them to attack also. He had been known to kill civilians and common folk too, men, women and children, passing judge jury and execution upon them, but that was only when they blatantly attacked him first. The guards lowered their weapons and watched as their Captain of the Guard glared at the priest who was screaming at them.
“Shut it priest, or you will be next...” The Captain growled, glaring at him and he promptly fell silent.
“Pass that elf, on my authority...” He said, “Escort him to the southern gate.”
As the young traveler passed the Captain of the guard, he felt a hand on his arm.
“Please go in peace.” The Captain told him, “Please no more bloodshed. My guards will see that you are not molested to the edge of the city.”
“Blessings upon thee for your kindness,” Rijiin replied, passing by the Captain of the guard, who met his smile with a nod and with one of his own.
“Pass that elf!” Another shout said as a small group of soldiers surrounded the elf and others held the townsfolk at bay who shouted and became quite violent toward the heretic in their midst. Rijiin was ‘escorted’ toward the gate, and for the first time, a heretical being so ordained by the church was allowed to leave freely and unmolested from an Inquisition held city. An unthinkable act that would no doubt send several soldiers to the very dungeons and torture that many Heretics had endured and died.
Outside the gate, Rijiin headed for the trees and he found himself in the familiar forest he knew to be Beldon Forest. Here he would rapidly travel south, following the familiar paths he knew to be there, skirting the Capital city of Hypperex to enter Malvern Forest beyond it. Rijiin traveled quickly, as he had many times with Terrill, Mirya and even with Natil on these paths, staying clear of the road and the guards posted from the capital city in Adria. Walking through the forest, he crossed along the border of lands that once belonged to Baron Roger of Aurverelle as he entered Malvern. Here he let out a breath, having a piece of mind that he would have no further dealings, he hoped, with the Inquisition.
Now almost to Saint Brigid, hours later, he found himself in this oncoming winter storm. Looking up he examined the same billowing clouds and cold weather that had spirited him from these lands in the first place. Rijiin had been deep in thought as he passed by Saint Blaise and Alm, thinking of events that had already happened, and the year he had been living as an elf in this century. He also had remembered his many adventures, his travels through the realm with his new friends, and thought of the many good folk who lived in Saint Brigid. They were people he could almost say was his family and where Rijiin found unconditional acceptance without question. Even after his change by the elves’ magic.
“Well at least for a few months until I had completed my transformation.” Rijiin corrected himself and shook his head, a smile appearing on his face, “And despite it all, a great cost for losing humanity but it did have a lot of gains too. I gained the love of a beautiful Harper and I learned to help and heal. I know the path that I walk and have learned compassion for life.”
Rijiin had changed when he had healed Mouse, risking his existence as he traversed the winds of time and space to help her. He could go to the Lady, clad in blue and silver anytime he wanted. He could kneel before her, finding her blessing, her council and love. That had been a long time ago, however. He shook his head, as-if to clear the thoughts of this place from his head and as the elf rounded the corner, moving back to the road, after many hours traveling he had not been paying attention to his surroundings. When he finally looked up, he realized he was in the remains of a village remotely resembling some sort of civilization. Rijiin at first had not recognized his surroundings of Saint Brigid, as it had changed a lot since he had been here. The streets of this once thriving village is overgrown with brush, and the buildings are disintegrating piles of crumbling debris. The elf had no idea in the last century that this village had again become a battlefield. Foreign armies had invaded Adria after he had disappeared, the forest set ablaze and the remaining elves helped to quell the violence by stopping a war machine from gaining control of the entire realm.
Shaking his head again, the elf scanned the surroundings several times, standing alone in the remains of what appeared to be a town square, and the silent overgrown streets as large flakes pelted his cloak. Snow swirled and fluttered in the wind around him as he cast a brief glance at each of the piles that once made up the buildings. A familiar sight caught his eye, however, and walking quickly toward one pile, he brushed the debris and snow aside that revealed the remains of a hand carved panel. He immediately recognized it as the very panels carved by David the wood smith in Saint Brigid that hung in the church long ago. Rijiin, when he saw them, had gasped aloud and quickly turned his head side to side, scanning each of the piles of debris with his gray eyes.
“What? By our lady, I’m home.” He exclaimed, turning to stare at the remains of Kay’s house, the church, and then turning to scan the rest of the village. His gray eyes quickly found the pile that made up the remains of Francis, the blacksmith’s house, gazing at it in wonder. He could not believe his eyes.
“It’s Saint Brigid…”
He panned a silent, astonished stare at the overgrown street, shaking his head in disbelief.
“What happened here?” Rijiin asked himself several times.
“Even in a few hundred years, someone could have still been here.” The elf thought, “But, by the look of this place, it has not been a village for some time.”
He then remembered it had been more than just a few years, it had been a hundred and forty years: A century and a quarter. His gaze fell on this solemn scene many times, hoping to find a clue that would give him the answer he sought. He immediately thought of friends, long passed now, thinking of Francis, Hester, Kay, Mick Andrew, David, Roxanne, Charity and countless others who lived in this village. Rijiin never thought for an instant they would ever, even with probably their children’s, children’s, children would have abandoned such rich soil. But then again, to the elf, so many signs had showed him that battle had come to Saint Brigid and he wondered if it was the reason why the residents abandoned its walls and let nature overrun the very streets of a place he called home, even for the few months until he fully transformed into an elf.
“There is nothing here, except piles of debris.” He thought, shaking his head. “Perhaps it was the Inquisition.”
The elf somehow just could not see the occupants of this village rounded up, taken away, tortured and burned as he had seen many a heretic’s fate. He closed his eyes, standing in the middle of the square and thought of a different time and place when the free town village had thrived, with a few elves remaining in the world to help and heal. When he opened his eyes, the area seemed to shimmer as the people and buildings seemed to return. He smiled at the sight.
“It is another time and place.” Rijiin thought as he warmly smiled at his reminisces and suddenly wished he could return to that time and this place in an era when everything made sense for the elf, instead of having to endure the bonds of solitude.
Shaking his head, Rijiin blinked his eyes and the solemn scene reappeared around him. Once again, he was alone in the overgrown square and turning his head, he panned a long gaze to the forest of Malvern that lay before him.
“I wonder if the paths are there.” He thought, “Perhaps the elves spirited them away into hiding if it was the Inquisition.”
Rijiin bolted toward the crumbling northern gate of the village and passed through its twisted remains. Walking along, outside of the wall, the elf finally entered the forest and when he stepped onto the familiar paths, Rijiin nodded slightly.
“They are here.” Rijiin thought, smiling to himself as his booted feet touched the ancient familiar paths of a home he knew very well. He could feel the energy, smell the scents and hear the sounds of the familiar forest. It was everything he had missed in a century. Quickly and with little effort, he reached the great oak on one path, passing it and then he turned onto another. He had only walked several meters past the great oak though when the paths abruptly ended and he stood in an unfamiliar clearing where three pathways ran off in three different directions. A look of astonishment crossed his face as he became acutely aware of drastic changes in this part of the forest. He sighed as he stood close to the great oak, realizing the ancient paths were gone and he now stood in all new Malvern, re-grown after a fire set to it over a century ago by the enemy who invaded Adria.
“You helped me, once.” He said, “I am a kinsman of these lands, guide me now.”
Rijiin had murmured the call, trying to invoke the Lady. He called her name and to the power that elves once had, but only a hushed whisper of falling snow had replied to his call. Walking ahead, he came to another unfamiliar clearing and an hour later, he sat under a thick grove of pine trees, where he made his camp. Here, he sat alone, staring at the crackling flames of his campfire as smoke and embers flashed as they rose upward into the dimming light sky.
“The elves would not have perished so easily despite they were fading even when I arrived.” Rijiin murmured, now left to wonder what had happened in the last century and a quarter he had been away. He thought of Varden, Mirya, Terrill, Talla, Sana, and Cara. Rijiin thought also of the young Elven woman, the Harper named Natil, whom he had fallen for again after coming to this time. He wished he could join them in oblivion, than wander any more in the hostile world. Rijiin had no idea that he was following the same path as his beloved Harper as she had traveled to Saint Brigid, said a fond farewell and found herself forced to wander through time until pulled through to Elven Home in Denver, of the future.
His eyes found the deep red sunset filling the western horizon as the day ended, the clouds parting to allow the sunlight to shine brightly upon the white frozen landscape and the elf smiled at the sight. Rijiin suddenly found himself reminded of the times with Natil in Aleser Mountains where they shared many of the spectacular scenes like this one in each other’s loving embrace. He watched the sunset for several more minutes until the light was gone and looking up, he watched the stars as they twinkled brightly above him. Rijiin stared at the infinite light of space and the thousands of stars in unrecognizable patterns. A cold winter wind whipped briefly and then became calm.
“By our Lady, that was a long ago indeed.” He thought and grimaced at the star patterns above him in the night sky.
He turned his attention to his surroundings, listening to the wilds of Malvern’s nightlife as it echoed through the forest and here he made his camp, tending a campfire. Here, Rijiin played a small instrument he had brought with him from the future top calm his soul, and the turmoil he felt inside. The sound, a sweet soprano, from his instrument echoed the forest and he looked up to meet the looks of several animals that had clustered outside the firelight to watch him play. Rijiin nodded a greeting to them as he continued to play Ave Maria, a religious song of the ages, and mostly sang in Latin by the Dominican Priests of the turbulent times. When he finished his song, he spoke to them.
“Blessings upon you rabbit, deer, fox and unto you brother wolf,” Rijiin said, and met each of their gazes with a polite nod. The rabbit, fox and deer seemed to glance at each other as he spoke to them, his accented words echoing across the campsite. They sensed his earnest tone and non hostility toward them.
“Thank you for being my company my friends.” Rijiin told them, “Especially on a very cold, blustery night such as this, best to share warmth of a fire and company of friends.”
He grinned broadly at the cluster of animals. They seemed to understand and stayed with him. The elf even fed them some scraps he had with him, petting them gently. He played a bit more, until it got too cold and later, Rijiin did something that the elves never did in his time or their entire existence. He slept and dreamed of the past, the future, as somewhere in the night sky high above him was a large 767 flying overhead in the night sky. As he lay in his camp, the power of the elves, their magic spilled over him in a white light. When the light finally faded, the forest clearing had remained, but the elf had disappeared, the only remains of him or his camp had been the empty spot where he had been a moment ago.
Rijiin was unaware of a time shift that had happened, only aware that it was very cold and the ground covered with a new layer of snow. The animals that had been his company were gone, far behind him in the past and by the magic that had guided the elves had guided him to this place. The elf had awakened in the future and he managed a sleepy yawn before sitting up, stretching and glanced up at the billowing clouds of a partly cloudy sky above him. The youthful traveler then turned his head to scan the surrounding woods thought to be Adria by the elf. Quickly, he cleaned up the camp and as he did so, nibbled on the rations brought with him from a pouch at his side. Rijiin listened to the unfamiliar sounds of the woods around him and quickly took in a breath of the frosty, crisp air, before donning the gray cloak about him. He stood up and turned to the east, walking a few yards away from his camp expecting to find the road that connected the north and south of Adria. Rijiin only found forest.
“Where is the road?” Rijiin thought, as he stood in the middle of the forest, turning three hundred and sixty degrees a couple of time before he walked to the south fifteen paces. In those few steps, he found what appeared to be the road, and quickly nodded relieved. He frowned, sensing something different around his surroundings, suddenly realizing that he did not sense the familiar paths that had brought him to this place.
“Strange. Oh well, back to Saint Brigid,” Rijiin thought again, and turning he walked through the canopy of trees, following the snow-covered road. As he followed it, he expected it to return to the remains of Saint Brigid, but when Rijiin turned the corner, the road abruptly ended. Here the elf gasped when he stared at the sea of white as a large open field appeared before him.
“By our lady,” He exclaimed, “This is not Adria.”
Rijiin quickly crouched next to a nearby tree, keeping himself hidden in the leafless thicket as he scanned the unfamiliar surroundings. The Elf also kept his hand ready on the handle of the sword at his side, turning his head to scan back and forth to the open surroundings ahead of him. A gleam of sunlight caught his eye on the horizon. It is the reflection from a car traveling on a nearby road in the distance and it gave him one clue to tell him where he was. The elf had seen it move along the horizon and realized he was no longer in the fifteenth century but the twentieth century. Looking up, he also saw a jet streaking high above in the partially clear sky.
“Well this is a fine how do you do,” He declared, “I’m in the future. Now this is a switch and how did I get here? Perhaps I am asleep… and I am dreaming all of this.”
He quickly realized he had forgotten what it was like to live in the twentieth century, and that part of him had died when he had changed into an immortal, a hundred and forty plus years ago when he had taken a journey through time.
Still crouching next to a cold trunk of a frozen, leafless tree, Rijiin watched his surroundings for a long time before deciding to move. Many times his solemn gray eyes examined the backboard and he finally recognized it as a baseball diamond that was across from him. His eyes found the chain link fence nearby on his left, bordering a path beyond the backboard and further ahead of him, he could see the track and a football field. Kneeling, he peered off into the distance at a cluster of buildings, and what appeared to be a frozen gravel service road running between them. Rijiin shook his head in silence, amazed by the familiar area that he now found himself.
“I wonder where I am,” He murmured, “Other than being in the twentieth century again, this place is a damn bit familiar. Perhaps it is a place that I remember when I was human once...”
Slowly, he began to make his way across the field before him, notcing that his footsteps are a quiet padding in the snow as he walked toward the buildings. The elf had been quite alarmed at the feeling of déjà-vu he was having and clearly distracted by the strangely familiar surroundings. He had not been paying attention as he walked toward the buildings, and had not seen the fence that separated the field and road. Rijiin, when he struck it full force, found himself flung backward two feet before he knew it was there. He sat on the ground, staring incredibly at the fence.
“Terrific.” Rijiin murmured, as he picked himself up, brushing the snow from his cloak and clothes, “I’d better watch where the hell I am going.”
Feeling foolish, he turned his head to an opening in the fence a couple of feet away from where he hit it. He grimaced, scoffing at the opening, as he rolled his eyes in disgust before he walked toward and through it onto the service road beyond. The elf stumbled on the ice for a moment before regaining his footing and his eyes slowly moved along the pathway that led to the larger building on the left, then to the road lined with snow covered telephone poles bordering it on either side. The road led to a parking lot a short distance away and adjacent to the road was a grass area beside it. A few cars were parked in front of the two buildings, one on the left, and the one on the right. The buildings were very familiar to the elf, and he still wondered if it was something that he had seen while he was human, quite a long time ago. He grimaced when he spied the stars and stripes that fluttered in the breeze in front of the building on the right and he only arched his eyebrow in silence. Beyond the parking lot, the elf also could clearly see the major roadway where earlier he had seen the cars moving across it and whiz past him as they travel it to their destinations. His reaction had been surprise, and still a vague recognition.
“Something is really damn familiar about this place.” Rijiin thought, turning his head to the larger building on his left and the other on the right, “Something old, a place I knew from my past. By our lady, why can't I remember?”
The elf kept walking toward the parking lot a short distance off, his footsteps a semi-silent, soft padding sound through the snow as he stayed on the grass area behind the wooden telephone poles that lined the gravel road, careful to keep off the ice-covered road in the center. Turning left, he moved more toward the larger building on the left, as a thick steady stream of snow fell upon him. The elf had been so focused upon the surroundings that he not see the young faces that had appeared in the window of a classroom in the building on the right. A young student had stepped in front of the window and watched the snow and gasped when she spotted him.
“Who the hell is that?” The young girl thought, and squinted, peering outside as the snow came down heavily.
The other students in the same classroom had turned when she gasped, and all had questioning looks on their faces until she motioned to them to come to the window.
“Take a look at this.” The young woman said, pointing at the figure walking in alone in the snow. There was another loud gasp as event he teacher joined them and there was great conversation about it as they watched him walk toward the building across the way. In five other classrooms many other students had seen the stranger, clad in green and gray, and the long hooded gray cloak that walked outside toward the other building across from them, marking it as the High School next door. They all watched until he had disappeared around the front of it and more conversation rippled through the classroom.
As for Rijiin, when he reached the front of the larger building, he stepped up on to a sidewalk that ran along the front of it with still semi-silent steps, and passed a large glass entry that made up the entry of the large building. Rijiin peered at the front of it, into the large foyer that preceded a larger area inside and at the dark blue carpet on the floor and the many cabinets that contain trophies. He recognized it as a Gymnasium, and stepping back from the entry, received an abrupt, blunt answer to his question a few minutes ago as a familiar mascot, a great Golden Eagle, perched on the building's roof came into view. The elf gasped when he saw it at first and he stared at it in astonishment.
“By our lady...” The elf breathed, as his mind quickly whirled, trying to remember the name of this familiar place, one place, that he could not believe he was seeing after so many years. It was impossible, but the elf also knew that he could not say he was wrong either.
“Bellbrook…?” Rijiin exclaimed in alarm, and he stared at the mascot made of fiberglass, gold paint and metals.
“What the hell is going on?”
He quickly pulled back the hood of his cloak, staring in silent bewilderment at the huge mascot statue. Quickly, the elf also became quickly aware of his surroundings and had glanced at the windows into the classrooms where students sat in their seats. Rijiin knew he was visible and in a few seconds, everyone in those rooms would see him. At this point, however, the elf just did not care and was completely blown away by being here again, in a place that once upon a time he had attended when he was human a very long time ago.
“This cannot be.” He muttered quietly, shaking his head to dislodge the snow that pelted his skin and had caught in his long brown hair. His eyes moved silently from the mighty mascot, to the windows, and back again many times as he stood there.
“Oh my Creatrix, my Lady, what have you done?” Rijiin asked, staring up at the mascot, as snow fell thickly around him. “Why have you brought me back to this place? It has now been four hundred plus years, four centuries and I have made a full circle.”
The elf just stood there, trying to understand why he had returned here, and wondered if he was dreaming of this place, fast asleep in the forest of the fifteenth century somewhere.
Inside the classrooms, however, Janae Dorn had been working on her paper for her class. As she sat there, she shivered, feeling chilly and peered out the window as a thick blanket of snowflakes fell outside. Her eyes beheld the elf once and she looked down, gasping loudly as she did the comical double take and peered at the strangely dressed figure who stood outside. Janae caught her breath in silent surprise, narrowing her eyes as she peered at the elf. She grimaced at the long brown hair, streaked with a touch of silver, and the handsome, fair, but unrecognizable features of his face. A wave of curiosity overwhelmed her senses.
“Who on earth is that?” the young woman thought. A wave of deja-vu overwhelmed her senses, the same as it had for the elf when he had arrived to this place, now over four hundred years from where his new life had begun. Around her, the others in her class, including the teacher had all turned when they heard the young woman gasp, and all turned to the window in which she had been looking. Their gazes also fell upon the elf standing outside and looks of surprise and even confusion appeared on their faces.
"Janae are you alright?" A voice asked, the question coming from Amy who had been sitting next to her. They saw her alarm, and semi-recognition of the stranger outside. Janae's classmate glanced at Brian who sat next to her, and met her look with a questioning look of his own before they resumed peering at the stranger outside. All three just looked upon the fair features of Rijiin in silence, and the strange costume he wore made of green and gray leather and the cloak that hung over his shoulders.
Miss Zerkle grimaced when she saw the elf.
“Who is that?” Zerkle asked, “Janae, do you know him?”
The young woman shook her head silently.
“No Ms Zerkle.” She replied quietly, “I don't know him, but I have to say that costume is really awesome!”
“Well I give you that, but what on earth is he doing out there?” Zerkle asked and there was a low murmur of misunderstanding that rippled through the other students around her. Two other classes next door now also peered at the elf in curiosity as well.
“Jesus, he sure seems familiar.” Janae thought, not sure what to make of Rijiin, or his antiquated costume.
Outside in the snow, Rijiin, finally realizing he was on display, had felt their gazes burning into him. At first he did not acknowledge them, but after a few more minutes that he turned his head, grimacing at the few familiar faces before him. The elf managed to casually touch his forehead, before he bowed wide and low to them. There was more curiosity by everyone when the elf used the strange and ancient motion to greet them. It was the same one he would have used in the fourteenth century, one of a gentry greeting to lords and ladies.
As Rijiin straightened, his gray eyes had focused upon Janae, his jaw twitching when he recognized her from the past, or in this case future when he was human and had been in this place as a student himself. The elf, despite his strange plight, had handled this strange predicament very smoothly and he managed a polite smile as he quickly recovered from his surprise. Everyone in the rooms, including Janae herself, had never seen such solemn gray eyes, or handsome fair features like Rijiin’s before. The young woman still felt a strange déjà-vu feeling when her eyes had gazed upon him for the first time. Beside her, she and the others in the classrooms sensed a strange spark of energy ripple through them. Rijiin casually placed a hand on the handle of the blade he openly wore at his side and they saw him elf grin openly at the mascot, before turning his head toward the entry of the Gym. Inside the discussion rippled through Janae's fellow students.
“...He’s very handsome, that’s for sure. Ms. Z.” Amy said, “I wonder why he's looking at our Eagle like that?”
“I don’t know.”
“That’s one hell of a costume though.” Another student commented, “Right down to the sword and dagger at his side.”
“A sword…? What sword?” Ms Z asked, and she looked again, gasping to realize indeed, there was a sword visible from his cloak. An ivory handled sword and its black sheath. Something told everyone that there was something more to the young man they were looking upon.
“Perhaps he’s a visitor.” A student said, “He looks like he has a purpose here.”
“You know, you may be right, but we’ll see.” Ms. Z said, “OK… Let’s get back on the task, please and take your seats.”
She headed for the door.
Rijiin turned his head when he had seen Ms. Z and two of the other teachers exit their rooms. He knew in a second they would all be out here and this situation clearly would be out of control. He quickly remembered her as one of the tougher staff members at this institution of learning. Stepping forward three steps, he entered the door of the gym in front of him as the students all retook their seats. Janae watched him for a moment, before he took several steps toward the gym entry and then turned her focus back to her work.
As the elf stepped inside the gymnasium, he cast a sweeping gaze at the interior surroundings and he managed a quiet, polite laugh.
“Some things never change.” He thought and shook his head. To the elf, it is the same as he remembered when had attended here. The building has a large cavernous interior, open and airy, the same large steel girder beams, and large spotlights above. Large bleachers, facing the basketball court make up the one side of the room, and the other side was the stage. He noted the stairways on either side of the bleachers and stage, recognizing they led into the locker rooms and storage areas below. A large wooden floor made up the basketball court and walking on it, he moved to the center where a large purple spot marked the center court. There in gold black and white was the familiar logo of the mascot of this place, a Golden Eagle.
Rijiin, kneeling beside it let his fingers brush across its purple and gold surface.
“So it’s true.” He murmured, “I am really here, I have jumped time, but when...? And why I am I here again? This really makes no sense.”
Standing up, he turned his head, when hearing voices of students behind the stage curtain and quickly Rijiin spun on one heel to walk, half run with silent steps toward an inner door. Behind him, Reynolds, Zerkle and one other teacher had followed, after a student in a class had pointed at the gym. They entered, but they did not see the elf exit through the far door.
Outside the gym, in a hall, Rijiin crouched by a heavy piano that obscured the hall and waited. The elf's eyes quickly darted to his surroundings and down the deserted, dim hallway, watchful for anyone who might have seen him. Behind the elf, in the large auditorium, students appeared after a workout on the stage and he watched them walk to the locker room. No one seemed to notice the elf crouched in the dim hallway and partially peeking into the doorway. He had withdrawn behind the piano when he saw the three teachers walking toward the hallway and they passed him by, not noticing him crouched there. Thankfully his cloak concealed his presence by blending in with the gray walls. They returned to their classes, puzzled by the stranger who had graced his presence upon them on this cold morning.
The elf, as he sat behind the piano in the hallway, slowly scanned the empty hall again, his eyes moving within a familiar long hallway. It is the same as he remembered going north and south, passing the doors of the Art and Music Departments. He stood up slowly, and quickly traversed the hallway, deeper into the building. As he reached the doors, he made sure to be cautious as he passed, and soon ended up at the first cross of another hallway that ran east and west. Here the elf peered at it in silence, and stepped back more toward the wall in the dim light that illuminated this area, to adjust and gather his bearings. Rijiin could see down the hallway to the far end, able to see another set of doors and outside light visible there where he knew the other hallway crossed this one, in parallel. His head turned to the hallway toward the front of the building where he knew the office to be, the tutor room and the lunch room. He then turned his attention to the double doors entering the library located in a short hallway nearby going the opposite way. The elf grinned when he heard and recognized the two familiar voices that echoed from within the classrooms nearby.
“Ms. Long.” He murmured, “Ms. Bender, no way.”
The elf had to make a big effort not to look in on the classrooms as he remained near the edge of the wall, his cloak allowing him blend into the dim light and the color of the wall, provide him some concealment. Rijiin, as he stood beside the wall, he let out a sharp silent exhale as a student and staff member passed him by, not noticing him. The elf watched as they continued on their way and he managed a grin. He was thankful they had not noticed him and he let out a breath, surprised when realizing that he had been holding it.
Quickly, Rijiin walked past the first cross in the hallway, into a brightly lit section of this hallway he recognized as the Councilor's Office. The elf noted a nearby alcove, next to some exit doors to the outside and he headed toward it. He grinned as he stood there, knowing that his being in the alcove kept him clear of the main hallway, offering some additional concealment and it quickly allowed him to gather more of his bearings from his memories of this place.
“Okay, this is the freshman/sophomore hallway.” Rijiin thought quickly, remembering back when he served here, “Down that way is the junior hallway that parallels the senior one to the front. Right now, I am near the counseling office.”
His gaze scanned the tiled, white walls and the lockers of the freshman/sophomore hall, decorated in the festive orange and black of Halloween. The elf remained in the empty alcove next to a door that exited to the outside. He just stared absently at the hall, opposite to a row of lockers and the windows above it as many fond memories passed through him that seemed like yesterday to him. As he continued to watch, peeking out of the alcove, his gray eyes silently studied the surroundings as more strong memories of this place overwhelmed his senses.
“This is so strange,” Rijiin murmured, “Being back at Bellbrook.”
His eyes then fell upon and beheld something even more familiar to him, standing across from the alcove. The elf smiled when he had seen it, leaving the alcove to walk toward it and his hand touched the metal door of his old locker. Rijiin grinned as his fingers brushed its metal surface and had been so engrossed in his nostalgia, that he did not sense the two people who had appeared from the counseling office doorway behind him. Maryanne Martin, one of the councilors here, had appeared at the door with a student.
As both of them stepped into the hallway, they had not sensed Rijiin standing there at first, but when they did, the pair turned their heads, focusing upon him. Martin and the student had let out a startled gasp when they saw him and both had exchanged a glance, both raising their eyebrows in surprised question. The elf had his back to them, peering at the locker, but when he finally sensed them had turned to quickly face them. He met the startled faces of the pair near the counseling door with a slight frown, recognizing the familiar face from his past. The student and the councilor both glanced at each other again when they saw the unfamiliar face and garb of the stranger before them. Martin and student saw the sword at his side, also the dagger under his cloak and both grimaced at the fact, as it looked well used from the elf's wandering the world through the decades, if not now centuries of time that had passed for the elf.
“Damn, that’s a cool costume.” The student exclaimed, showing clear surprise by the garb and the clear authenticity of it.
“Really well done.” Martin agreed, “Who is that? Do you know him?”
The student shrugged.
“No idea. Great makeup though...”
“You have a VERY well done costume.” Martin told the elf, walking toward him, studying his fair features, “Did you make it? Who are you under that makeup? Or is that a mask?”
Her many questions echoed the hallway, and as Rijiin stood before the pair, his mind raced as he stared at the familiar face, searching for a name that went with it. A familiar face that he had known well, while he was here at Bellbrook, as a student himself as a human a long time ago.
“Miss Marianne Martin.” The elf's mind told him and he grimaced tightly, an uncomfortable feeling overwhelming his senses. Beside him, the student just looked upon the elf with extreme curiosity. She had never seen such a costume before, and by the look of it, told her that it was authentic by the patches covered in blood, his immortal blood, that stained it.
“It must be a student here.” The young woman thought, “He must be a senior here, or an outsider, but how does he know Ms. Martin?”
“Come here for a moment please.” Martin directed, motioning to him to follow. Rijiin walked confidently with her in the hallway, keeping his head high, almost defiant, as he followed. The student watched him, and noted his almost cat-like reflexes, and readiness to the situation.
“…Look at this fantastic costume Jane.” Chortled Martin, pointing at Rijiin who stood outside of the door behind her. Rijiin met her piercing look, and remembered the name quickly as Jane Sparrows, the secretary who worked the Counseling section of Bellbrook.
As the secretary looked up, she gasped and beside Martin, the freshman smiled at the reaction by the older woman. Rijiin studied her reaction in silence also, managing a grim smile despite the situation.
“Wow, she has not changed.” Rijiin thought to himself, and peered at the older woman. Jane Sparrows is tall and lean, has white hair, and is clad in pseudo business casual, wearing a simple white blouse, black pants and dark framed glasses. Her dark eyes narrowed, studying the elf, as if her piercing stare could look through him. Rijiin took a half step back instinctively and grimaced by the uncomfortable feeling that he felt as his eyes moved about the office. The elf had sensed something for a brief moment, that had quickly passed, but he continued to study the interior of the office with his eyes.
“...Now that’s a costume don’t you think?” Martin asked and the secretary, seated at her desk had managed a slight nod. Sparrows grimaced as Martin did by the well used looking blade at his side but did not comment on it. She assumed it was part of the costume for the day.
“Wow that is really well done.” The secretary replied, nodding her head in agreement, “You will win the costume contest hands down. What are you supposed to be?”
She had addressed Rijiin and he met her piercing stare. At first he was silent, considering for a moment the question asked by the older woman, and he grinned in spite of himself.
“I am a folklore legend, an elf.” He said, finally speaking, his accented voice echoing in the room. “You know, from folklore and fantasy. You have my thanks for the compliment ma'lady.”
Both the councilor, student and the secretary all had let out an astonished breath when they heard him speak, the strong inflection in his voice, and the realistic, thick accent. The young student grinned as she saw the confusion of the staff members by the old fashioned term, Me'Lady used by Rijiin. It was something they had never heard before and innocently used by the elf who would have used the term to address Lords, Ladies, and gentry.
“That is a wonderful accent.” The secretary complimented, “It sounds like it is real.”
Suddenly there was a shift, as-if time seemed to pause for a moment, and the three of them all felt something was amiss about this stranger. Rijiin nodded slightly to Sparrows who remained seated behind the desk. She had a questioning expression on her face as she studied the fair features of Rijiin, and the bright twinkle of what seemed to be starlight in his eyes.
“It is me'lady.” He replied politely, smiling at the expressions on their faces as another uncomfortable pause rippled through the office when he used the term again.
“It is not necessary to be so formal.” Martin began, and turned to abruptly face Rijiin. “And on that note, where are you supposed to be now? You should bot be roaming the hallways... uhm.”
The elf grimaced, realizing that he formally had not introduced himself.
“My name is Rijiin, Rijiin L’Theil the Just, and I am at your service.” The elf prompted and touched his forehead to quickly bow wide and low. There were grins at the unusual custom and it had reminded them of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn.
“What kind of name is that?” Sparrows asked, “Who are you really? You are playing your roll well.”
“It is my name…” Rijiin began but quickly fell silent, feeling a chill in the air. He suddenly realized this was clearly getting out of hand and wondered by using the name or identifying himself by the name had changed the time stream at all.
“It shouldn't.” The elf thought, “As Elves, green and gray and the customs of the past have long since faded to not exist in this time and place.”
The elf, however, felt the need to withdraw and uncomfortable by the situation. There was surprise on everyone’s faces as they studied him.
“That is an unusual name, if it truly is your name.” The student commented and gasped when the elf nodded.
“It is young one.” He replied, nodding to her, and grinned again at the astonished look on her face. There was a brief chuckle and laughter by the response but everyone fell silent when they realized that Rijiin was being totally serious.
“I am not from this place me'lady.” The elf replied to the student, “Not in many years. Although it seems like a lifetime passed, I was here.”
The student gasped and yet she nodded to him. She sensed there was much more to this stranger who stood before her, something she didn't quite understand by his cryptic answers.
What the elf was doing, was trying to not disturb the time stream, knowing fully well if he interfered with any time while he was present as a human that he could literally destroy any future he had. He also knew that he definitely could not contact himself as a human either. However, the elf did not know where he was in time at this point, the date not established to know the parameters of what he could and could not tell these people. He definitely had to be careful and tread lightly in his actions.
Rijiin frowned, wondering how much truth was in that concept and wondered if his being here had already changed time as he knew it. He knew that he did not belong here in this place or among humans, and wandered into a place that he should not be anyway. The elf scanned the room as he sensed that time seemed to be shifting and frowned at the strange feeling he was having by the changes. He also sensed something else that he had not sensed in a very long time and shook his head, as-if to clear the harsh memories they were causing. The elf grimaced tightly at the feeling.
"Rijiin, you need to drop the act, though you are really playing your role well...” Martin said, “Where are you supposed to be now....? Whoever you are, please get your stuff at the locker you were standing at and go there.”
The elf grimaced at the implication and blatant assumption made by the staff-member, even though he clearly identified himself otherwise. He showed a frown of annoyance when she had tried to assert herself as an authority over him, which was rightly in her jurisdiction to do for the students of Bellbrook, but clearly not for him. The elf shook his head slightly and sighed when he realized they didn't believe him and his identification as a visitor rather than a student.
“Then I shall do so.” The elf replied crisply, “The hand of the Lady be upon you both and onto you young one.”
The trio felt a chill in the air by Rijiin's answer as he stepped away from them and without turning, his gray eyes fell on the opening door to a tall muscular, man with a mustache, sandy blond/graying hair and brown eyes. A student, he noted to be Carl Popp, exited with him and the elf smiled seeing the young man, nodding to him politely. Rijiin quickly remembered another name.
“Ah Bob Yux.” The elf thought, and remembered he was one of the other coaches and councilors here at Bellbrook. Rijiin nodded politely to him also, before turning to exited through the door, leaving the astonished staff-members and students in the office behind him. Rijiin found himself in the alcove again, grimacing as he held the notice in his hand that he had taken from the bulletin board outside.
“That was too close.” He thought, “Why was I not found out and questioned more? That made no sense. I spoke truth and they assumed I was not.”
Rijiin scanned the notice he had taken from the board next to the office door as he had stepped out of the door.
“October 31st, 1989.” The notice said, and Rijiin nodded in half understanding.
“It is a year and a few months after I left, but it still says nothing of why I have arrived back at this place.” He thought, “At least it tells me when.”
He made a quick plan, now knowing the parameters he sought of what he could and could not do in this time. Rijiin knew if he were in time as a human, that he would be in California now, and attending a place out west. He managed a nod, that he would not be interfering with anything to his human self in this time stream.
The elf quickly folded the page and placed it into the pouch that hung at his side. Rijiin withdrew a bit further into the alcove when he heard a bell, and he grimaced, realizing it was the bell for changing of classes. He had forgotten about that and Rijiin’s gray eyes found the clock on the wall that read ‘11:45’. He shook his head in amused silence.
“Oh, it is the lunch period.” He muttered, “By the Lady, just fricking great.”
He watched as a sea of students filled the hall and the elf managed a silent smile at the costumes. Rijiin remembered the certain day they dressed up.
“Ah yes, I remember now, its Halloween.” He murmured, “I will fit right in…”
With that, he glanced down at his costume, the one he had worn for a long time as he had traveled Europe. It was patched in a few places, having taken damage from battle in which he had fought. Rijiin scanned the hallway and smiled at the students who were in full form of the Halloween spirit. Many memories flashed in his brain, and names of those he now gazed upon that he had not seen in a long time. The students began to notice him and a low murmur rippled in the hallway as they stared in confusion at Rijiin.
He only nodded a silent greeting to them, as he watched them from the alcove.
Nearby, upper class students had also seen the elf, and they grimaced at the sight of him. They all stared at the green and gray garb, his cloak. They peered at his fair features, and what they thought to be makeup, along with the realistic costume. A look of disapproval appeared on their faces, when seeing the costume, a better one than any one had for today. They decided to prank Rijiin and throw eggs at him, the trick part of the day, not realizing that it would sadly backfire.
They stretched back as they took aim, and let them loose. Rijiin had had his back partially to them when he sensed the incoming food and had pivoted slightly, letting it splatter on the wall next to him. There had been a gasp, as the elf calmly and nimbly dodged, hardly moving to avoid the incoming eggs. There was a pause as the upper class students glanced at each other, and they had thrown a couple more. The elf, this time in a leisurely maneuver had moved and his hand caught the eggs, one at a time, without breaking them and he threw both eggs back at them. One hit a student on the forehead and another in the face. There was a gasp by all who looked on in silent amusement and great laughter had followed.
Students around them had seen what was going on had all laughed at the seniors who wore the eggs on their faces and costumes. They all saw the great rage by the three, holding more eggs in hand as they moved in on the elf whose back was again partially turned away from them as they approached. They had intended to rub the egg in the face of the stranger, and as they ran toward the elf, he merely grimaced when sensing their intentions. He whirled to face them in a flash and prepared to fight, despite he was not particularly interested in fighting with anyone anyway. The elf knew that is not his purpose here today, but it seemed to come to him nevertheless.
A moment later, the elf sensed a hand moving in toward him, and using Aikido training that he had long ago for him, having passed one hundred and forty plus years through time and space, had blocked the incoming hand. He stepped in and blocked the food and the other to chop him in the throat. It was not enough to kill, but stun the student, sending him reeling backwards. A low gasp echoed the hallway as everyone saw the response of the stranger, who stepped in to pivot backhanding the other sending them reeling to the floor after the other had tried to help their friend. The elf backed off, crouching into an easy stance, a fighting stance and panned a gaze at the other upper class of Bellbrook who looked on stunned when they saw the elf effectively take down two in almost the blink of an eye. He waited, and circled, daring them to approach.
He glanced at the staff members that approached on a run, a coupe, minutes later, hearing the chant, fight fight in the hall. Here, Rijiin grimaced at Miss Martin, Mister Yux and several teachers had ran toward them when the fight had broken out. They had not seen what had started it but could clearly see that Rijiin was the only one standing as he decked a couple of the students again who got up to charge him. He kicked again and this time one thought he would be smart, and grab it. He back flipped in the blink of an eye as his foot struck his chin, making the student lift off the floor as he fell backward on his ass. A gasp sounded by everyone as the elf landed on his feet. Someone grabbed him and he stomped on their feet, resulting in an ugly crack and a yelp as he stepped back to catapult them over his shoulder. The elf waited and watched, daring them to cross a line and end up in the same state as the others.
When no one else got up again, he glanced at the astonished teachers who watched the elf fight, and effectively down four students with quick resolve. He refrained from the use of the very real dagger and sword at his side, possible to end life-lines. Rijiin was very diligent not use excessive force, a point he would not cross and take life unless it was absolutely necessary.
“Enough.” Rijiin exclaimed, cursing softly under his breath. “I would suggest you move along...”
The elf had said it coldly, the inflection of the elves strong in his voice, “Before you get in over your head and take those punks with you...”
Around him, a low murmur echoed from the gathered crowd, showing the same surprise as the staff and student earlier who had not been expecting the strange accent from the stranger. He turned his head and met each student's surprised gaze, surprise by his accented voice and at perhaps the hint of starlight that had twinkled brightly from his eyes. The elf turned his head, coldly staring at the melee of upper class students who stood around him.
“Or would you all prefer to be next?” The elf calmly asked, “If so, I can oblige...”
The melee of the many students stepped back quickly. The point had been very clear and concise as they had watched a wildcat take on and down four of their classmates with very little effort. Rijiin had no intention to hurt any of them, just maybe hurt their pride a bit and kick them in their egos, but not injure them too badly.
“I thought so.” The elf murmured, as the students had stepped back. He quickly backed into the alcove, near the office, and watched as a few other students helped their classmates to their feet. They all backed off, leaving him well enough alone. Rijiin stood panning a glance at the hallway in silence, at the familiar faces who stood close by.
“Are you alright?” A voice asked and Rijiin turned as Katie Roth approached from the sea of students. The elf managed a smile, staring at her familiar, youthful features and her youthful features. He quickly remembered her enduring, bright and enthusiastic spirit that was enough for the whole class of ninety-one at Bellbrook. He managed a silent nod.
“That was amazing, are you new here?” She asked, “I have never seen anyone fight like that or have seen you here before.”
“It was nothing me'lady.” The elf replied, “Be at peace, they cannot harm me.”
There was a surprise by the young woman at his antiquated response. A smile appeared on her face.
“Do you have a name?” She asked, as more students, whom the elf quickly recognized while attending here long ago, clustered around him, very interested in the stranger who stood among them.
“...Are you part of the senior class?” Another voice asked and the elf grimaced to shake his head. “Who are you under that makeup or mask?”
“My name is Rijiin L'Theil, the Just.” The elf replied, his accented voice echoing the hall, making the students around him smile, “I am at your service.”
With that, the elf, bowed slightly, and the others around him grinned at the motion, reminding them of something out of Robin Hood. The elf was only using what he knew from a different century and time, in which it was a proper custom to others.
“My name is Katie Roth.” She said, turning to a few of her friends and even fellow classmates who had seen the fight.
“Jade Claycraft… Melinda Morris… Kathy Lehman… Amy Panstingle… Stacey Warner… Rob Paisley… class of ninety.” The voices said, taking turns and Rijiin bowed slightly. He exchanged handshakes.
“Good to meet you.” The elf said, but his reply had made them frown. Even though he had not said it directly, the word ‘Again’, seemed to hang in the air around them. To the students and others who approached him, he seemed very familiar to them and they seemed to frown, acknowledging that sense between them.
“So where are you from?” Katie asked, “That is a wonderful accent.”
“I am from all over.” He said, “Many different places across the Atlantic.”
“Oh you are from Europe...?” A voice asked, “You seem so familiar...”
“Aye,” Rijiin said, “Mostly near the Mediterranean area, close to Greece and Italy and a short time out of Spain. I lived in an area called…uh Adria. I am a visitor to this place.”
The elf’s voice trailed off, his eyes betraying the surprise on his face when they fell upon a familiar face, one that he would think never to see again in a lifetime. A face whom he remembered from his time here and as he faced his own death while lying somewhere in time in the midst of a forest clearing in Adria. His eyes fell upon and beheld a familiar young woman named Emily Montgomery, who had been walking with her friends in his direction. The young woman met his look with no sign of recognition, nodding to a now stranger who wore a unique costume thought for the day. He quickly remembered his homeroom class with Ms. Hill and the young woman was in her class next door. They had waved to each other every morning.
The others turned their heads to smile when they realized whom he was staring. He touched his forehead as he silently bowed to the young woman. Stephanie Riner grinned at the motion.
“That's an old custom, where are you from in Europe again?” Stephanie asked, confused by his motion toward Emily.
“Adria, me'Lady.” The elf replied, “It is near Avignon Italy...”
There was sharp laughter by the antiquated demeanor and his reply.
“Please call me Stephanie.” She said, and the elf grimaced tightly, forgetting that he was in the modern age rather than the Renaissance period of history.
“My apologies...” The elf replied simply, and he met Emily's beautiful smile. She narrowed her eyes at the elf, peering at the green and gray garb and the unfamiliar face. Her face showed the same confusion as the rest of the students of ninety and ninety-one. She approached, and Rijiin turned to greet more of his classmates, and a few from 1990, who approached, with a handshake and a silent bow to them. He turned as he had sensed Janae, who had been in the initial class that had seen him this morning. The elf grinned when he saw her.
Janae Dorn had been walking the hallway to her locker, and had turned the corner to see the stranger. She had immediately realized that it is the cloaked man standing here, the same person in front of the school a bit ago, dressed in the fantastic but strange costume. Angie Stethem, Christine Zucker, Steven Herres, Mark ‘Boz’ Alsobrook and others, all had watched in astonishment of the entire event a few minutes ago. They stepped toward him too.
“Oh my god he was real!” Janae thought, her expression showing surprise. It had been no dream. More people had started to notice Rijiin now. Doug Woolard, Steve “Twinkie” Gardner, Denise “Watts” Watson, and Reggie Wax, in addition to others the elf knew well in another life, another time, perhaps a another dance. Seeing these people again had unnerved him and he overheard the many comments about his old-fashioned costume.
As Emily had approached him, the elf stepped back as he drew them into the alcove and letting others pass in the hall behind. Around him, he sensed a faint shimmer of magic and grimaced at the familiar sense of something that he had not felt in probably seventy-five years. He shook his head to dismiss it quickly.
“Hello.” Emily said, smiling at him. Rijiin in turn had managed a slight grin, staring at the face he had not seen in a long time.
“Blessings upon you...” He replied, and the young woman grinned at the strange greeting. The others around him grimaced at the antiquated greeting.
“Blessings by whom?” A murmur asked and the elf merely glanced at them.
“Nice costume.” Emily told him, “Right down to the makeup, and blood that looks so real.... Can I ask who are you… Are you from the senior class? Who are you under all that makeup?”
Rijiin only managed a grin, and shook his head in a silent reply at first.
“It is with my thanks.” Rijiin replied, as the students stepped forward, clustering about him. “But as I say, I am not from a class here, I am a visitor to this place. I am...”
With that, he paused, contemplating his answer quickly and again wondered how much he could divulge as information that would not harm the time stream. Rijiin thought of the many science fiction books and TV shows that came to mind and how in each program that a minor slip could disrupt future events. As for the elf, he had almost slipped and caught himself before saying an ‘an Elf of Malvern.’ Here at this place of learning, and among the now large group gathered here, he would not have been out of line to say it. The elf sensed no bigotry, racism, or persecution here. His only crime would have been their doubts of his identity.
“… a visitor and old friend… We met a long time ago and you may not remember me.” He continued, slowly panning to meet the smiling faces of those clustered around him.
“A friend,” She replied with a smile, “It must have been a while ago.”
“It is so.” Rijiin replied remembering someone else who had said the exact same thing, “It has been a long time, and I did not appear like this before now.”
“Oh… Well, I’m Emily.” She said, and Rijiin took up her hand, kissing it gently as he bowed. The young woman had blushed at the old-fashioned custom and everyone around them smiled in amusement.
“It is a great honor,” Rijiin said, raising up, “To meet you all, and make your acquaintances. Especially you Miss Montgomery.”
Although Emily and the others present did not hear him say it, they had heard the word ‘again’ indicated, as he replied to their chatter. His words hung in the air a long moment, before turning to meet each face. He managed a nod to each one.
Emily had gasped, frowning at Rijiin. She had not told him her last name, and his familiarity toward her had startled her. She saw the blade at his side, battered, worn and well used, still stained with the blood that covered the blade often. Rijiin grimaced and turned slightly, keeping the blade at his side away from the students, as if almost to protect them from harm. The elf met their questioning glances with a thin pained smile.
“Alas, they are young.” Rijiin thought, as he stared at them, “So young.”
“So, you were the one in front a while ago weren’t you?” Janae asked, as Rijiin slowly met the familiar faces of Katie Roth, now Steph Riner, Angie Stethem, Jen Metzler and now Reggie Wax. He spied Brian Sanner, Brian Rupp, Doug Woolard, Casey Hess, and countless others peering at him from their places down the hall. The elf felt uncomfortable, he felt old and only nodded his head positively to the young woman. More students, who are more familiar to the elf, had walked up.
“Aye,” He said, and her face showed surprise, “I was.”
“Why were you looking at our mascot, the eagle like that?” She asked.
She glanced at the others.
“He was outside earlier, probably just arriving here and he was staring transfixed at our mascot.” Janae explained, “He seemed astonished by the expression on his face, and I was just wondering why...”
Janae glanced at Rijiin.
“That mascot reminded me of something very old, from my past, ages ago.” The elf replied, “I was not sure if I had been to this place before. It has been a very long time since I saw your mascot or that sort of thing in my travels.”
“Huh?” Janae asked, puzzled by his response, as were the others. He shook his head, as if to again clear harsh memories.
“It is of no consequence. I am here.” Rijiin told them and grinned. “Be at peace.”
Smiles appeared on everyone’s faces and they really did not quite know what to make of Rijiin or his presence here. The elf had intrigued them by his presence, his garb, looks, even his accent. They were not sure whom it was that stood before them. Rijiin wondered if he could tell them who he once was without disrupting the time stream. However, even Rijiin had forgotten that part of himself when he was human, those memories long vanished and forgotten.
“You are so strange… I have a feeling I know you from somewhere…” Angie said and the elf managed a quiet chuckle. Others present had nodded in agreement.
“You must be a student here, but your costume looks, and your accent sounds so real. Are you sure you are not from the any of the classes?”
“More than you know.” the young elf thought as he met her smile, “If you only knew.”
He only shook his head in response to the many questions. The elf met the surprised, but dubious expressions on their faces. He smiled when he saw Rachael Fabrick and Dawn Fader walk up toward him. Doug Lehman followed with Joe Laux.
“So Rijiin what brings you here?” Emily asked, intrigued like the others and curious about this stranger. He glanced up, almost replying without thinking, but fell silent as he contemplated his answer. Rijiin suddenly sensed something he had not felt in a long time and it was a powerful sensation, one that made him gasp aloud. The sensation seemed to overwhelm his senses.
“By our lady,” He gasped, shaking his head as he reached out to steady himself on the wall. Rijiin gasped when his inner sight kicked in and he felt an overwhelming sense of a sinister evil approaching. It is the same feeling he had felt almost one hundred years ago, when he had traveled across Europe and an evil power that the elf would fight a long time ago. One that he thought destroyed by his own blade. Outside, as it snowed, a clap of thunder boomed across the landscape and the clouds seem to billow violently. Everyone heard it, a few who were near the doors peered outside. The sky had grown dark and the clouds billowed, an almost purplish in color.
Inside Rijiin swooned, holding onto the wall.
“But that was a long time ago.” He thought, “That cannot be what I am sensing.”
“Are you alright, Rijiin?” A voice asked, watching Rijiin and seeing the astonished, pained expression on his fair features. He turned carefully in a circle as his head and eyes scanned the hall. He straightened, unsecuring the blade at his side, holding and gripping tightly, readying for a fight.
“Correction, it is here,” Rijiin declared suddenly, knowing he had a job to do and would have to fight the evil he now sensed. There was no escape from it, and he only suspected what the evil was, a name coming to mind.
“Katie, Steph, Emily, and Angie… everyone out...! Clear the hall… Quickly…!” The young elf exclaimed, drawing the blade from the scabbard with a sharp metallic sound. There were gasps of alarm as the onlookers saw the blade, and realized it is a real one. Rijiin slowly turned, holding the blade ready and his eyes ever watchful for any signs. It was here nearby, probably watching and waiting.
“I can’t see you, but I know you are here.” Rijiin said clearly, ducking as the whistle of a blade whipped over his head, and a loud clang that followed. Rijiin rolled clear, onto his feet, and held his blade ready. The elf had surprise on his face at what he saw, a man whom he had not seen in almost one hundred years and he thought to be dead. It would not be unlike the elves starlight, green and gray garb, gray cloaks and their magic, all having perished a long time ago.
The wizard was quick to get his blade free, moving in on the elf and Rijiin barely able to react except by instinct. Sparks flew as their blades struck several times, and he pivoted to kick the wizard in the chest, making him back up a few steps. He suddenly remembered the name when a dark overlord named Tantras of Thay whom had forcefully took control of a realm and tried to enslave the common folk. The elf had fought against everything the wizard stood for, having seen his harsh methods of control and death among men, but also not limited to women and children too. He managed a grimace.
“Nice to see you… Tantras…” Rijiin exclaimed sarcastically.
The wizard’s name instinctively came to his lips as the wizard stood before him, clad in the familiar red robes. The elf knew who he was, the purest evil the elf had ever encountered or known in his travels. He held up his blade in a side stance his blade straight up as he stared at Tantras’ leathery face. Rijiin noted the complex scar at his neck, where a long time ago he had cut him the last time they had fought, in which he thought he was slain by his blade.
“By our lady, the man has not changed,” He thought grimacing, “Still twisted and evil.”
“Rijiin,” Tantras exclaimed, his voice a mere growl and he turned to glance at the crowd of onlookers. There were murmurs among students and staff who had heard the growl by the figure cloaked in red. They glanced at Rijiin who stood fast, holding his ground as he faced down the figure in red, showing little emotion or fear. He held his blade, gripping it easily, as he stared into the almost flaming albino eyes of the evil wizard. Tantras snarled and he raised his staff as he stepped in toward Rijiin.
Quickly the pair fought, exchanging flashes of steel that resonated through the hall. Sparks danced from the blades as they met, and a crackle of static electricity echoed through the air. A ripple of fear by the many students moved through the hallway, having retreated. They sensed the hatred between these two and knew that it was deadly real and this was not staged. Many of the students had departed to get their lunch and quickly returned only to see this unholy situation brewing before them. Loud clangs of steel resonated through the hallway, bringing everyone toward the fight, curious what was going on. The senior class stood nearby as did the Juniors and others as sparks continued to flash brightly as they exchanged steel.
As for the elf, he relied on his deftness of foot, his skill at steel-play and his knowledge of battle as he fought Tantras. Many times, Rijiin let the powerful strikes expel into the open air, the wizard’s blade whistling loudly as they came within inches of his person and others he skillfully parried. He spun like a cat in place, letting Tantras’ blade whistle along his back. This fight would be nothing like he had encountered in his travels or like the last time the young elf and the evil wizard would clash. Before when the elves fought, they relied on the starlight that helped them in battle, but again that was a long time ago and there was no starlight now. The power of the elves long since had faded at the end when they gave themselves to oblivion. Strike after strike the elf parried or dodged the wizard’s strikes, pivoting away from him. The whole time, with each motion, Rijiin lured and drew him farther down the hallway deliberately away from the crowd, his intent to protect them so that no innocent blood spilled on this day. The crowd around the elf and wizard dodged and cleared the hallway as they continued to fight.
A door opened and two staff members stepped through the door, gasping aloud when they saw the unholy situation of violence brewing here. They stared at Rijiin, a sword in hand, who squared off with Tantras a bladed staff in hand, as live steel exchanged between them. The elf could see the Martin and Sparrows stood too close to Tantras, who lunged at them, trying to distract Rijiin’s attention to get an underhanded strike at him. The elf blocked one blow that had almost taken Martin’s head off and he pushed her aside knocking her clear. He moved to block as Yux appeared at the door. All three were shocked at what was happening here.
“I beg your pardon messier, mistress.” He told them as he let loose with a fast fist that connected with the wizard’s chin and the elf grimaced when it made the wizard only back up three steps.
“Please Maryanne, please Bob, keep the students back, and the staff needs to stay back too,” Rijiin growled, “This is my fight, and I cannot allow anyone to lose their lives, not to this man. I am the only one who can defeat him. Fear not, I will protect everyone from him.”
“Who the hell is that Rijiin?” The councilor stammered, “What is going on here? Who are you?”
“Maryanne, please,” Rijiin said, making her look up, hearing the urgency in his tone. The other councilor heard his tone too, seeing the look the elf gave him and both gasped that he used their first names. The elf shook his head at both of them. The young elf stepped forward bravely and brought the blade up to block and sparks appeared, lancing out to kick him, pushing him back three feet. The wizard stood there stunned for a moment or two. Martin and Yux both suddenly sensed there was more to Rijiin L’Theil than she understood, and gasped to realize he was no student.
“Much more,” She thought, frowning as he stepped forward toward the figure cloaked in red. Moving in they exchanged several more shots and the clashing of the blades and the thunder outside could be heard throughout the hall.
“Jane, you’d better call the police.” Martin said and the secretary turned. She paused a moment when something extraordinary caught her eye and realized the elf was glowing slightly with an aura. Blinking her eyes, she looked again for confirmation. The students and staff saw the same thing and stared in silent wonder.
“He’s glowing?” Thought Sparrows, “What the heck is that about?”
She found herself unable to move for some reason.
“What on Earth is that?” Martin exclaimed as more staff appeared from the hall and on the run from the front near the staff lounge.
Rijiin had heard Martin’s instruction, and he almost laughed aloud at the absurdity of the thought, knowing fully well that the police would not be able to take Tantras by normal means. He would slaughter them just as he had men, women, and children almost a hundred years ago. The wizard, the elf knew, was uncontrollable by mortals or anyone and he had shown that during his evil reign over a kingdom he had taken over. He dodged several more strikes by the evil one in red, lunging to thrust his blade forward.
“I wouldn’t bother with calling your authorities…” Rijiin told them, “They will die the same way as you all will if I fail to stop him.”
“I-I don’t understand, why is it your fight Rijiin?” Maryanne asked, “What do you mean you are the only one to stop him?”
“He has come for me,” Rijiin replied coldly, “Be at peace, he cannot harm me, Tantras of Thay is a known killer and has been after me for a long time now, for well about a hundred years. He is the purest evil you will ever know. You humans have one life, and if you value it I suggest you all stay back.”
The elf had echoed the warning by Conner McCloud from the Highlander movie. There were smiles as they heard the warning by everyone around them, but those smiles faded when they realized the elf was being deadly serious.
“What!” Gasped the councilor, a look of surprise on her face, “T-that’s c-crazy, that’s impossible!”
“Not if you are an elf and an immortal.” Rijiin said, as he held his blade ready, “I am Rijiin L’Theil. I was borne at in the beginning of the world, living for all times in the forest of Malvern. I am immortal and I cannot die.”
He paused, turning toward the wizard and glanced at the startled expressions around him. Rijiin pointed the blade at Tantras and then put the blade against the floor as if to draw an invisible line on the floor in front of him. He straightened after the motion and held the blade, daring the wizard to cross it.
“Come wizard, take me if you can,” He challenged and the wizard grimaced, snarling venomously. There was surprise by the staff member and the students present who heard Rijiin’s challenge. He stepped forward, trading steel and he cut the wizard on his shoulder. The elf had followed through and had stepped back from Tantras. Everyone saw the bloody slash, the very real blood on the red robe and the splattering of it onto the tile floor. A low murmur followed as the wizard’s blood dripped onto the floor.
“First blood, don’t bother to yield,” Rijiin exclaimed sharply, as he had spun away after following through and stood with his blade ready. Tantras snarled, quietly cursing before he moved in, trying to hit the dodging elf with flashes of magic that he cast upon him. As Rijiin backed, he moved from side to side, letting the blade expel into the empty air and his spells. Students and staff moved aside in all directions as they fought. He motioned for the wizard to follow, drawing him back, and leading him toward the alcove on the far side of the hall. Other staff members had come into the action, and the elf parried to move back, standing between them and the wizard.
“What the heck is going on?” A shout asked as many others had come from all directions.
“There’s two people sword dueling in the sophomore’s hallway.”
All eyes had turned, watching the sword battle and the flashes of energy from Tantras. Rijiin continued to trade steel as he backed down the hall, leading the wizard along with him. Many times people scattered to avoid being taken up in this violence, and elf had made sure to head for the door taking the fight outside. Sparks lanced out from the blades as they struck in the cold air. Above them, thunder boomed despite it was cold and snowing. The clouds seem to be billowing and seemed to be reacting to each strike. There was astonishment throughout the whole building at the thunder and lightning that boomed and the lightning that crackled overhead. Staff appeared at the door, as did the students, watching in silence as the two circled and fought. The elf dodged and did the splits and with a lunge, he pushed and flipped in mid air over the blade of the wizard. There was a gasp and cheer by the students and staff.
“Very well done, Rijiin…!” A voice shouted as cheer resonated across the field. The elf grinned as he landed on his feet to turn and parried Tantras’ blade, sparks appearing in the open cold air.
“You still are as good as you were centuries ago.” The Mage grumbled, “But you are still weaker than I and are still weak for keeping the wrong company. We pathetic humans killed your people into extinction a long time ago, and yet you still care for them.”
Rijiin listened carefully to the statement, as did the others around him. There was a low murmur echoing through the group who watched.
“You are dead.” The wizard said, as a strange aura surrounded him.
“Save the empty threats, as it has been tried before and that has failed. Come and fight if you dare wizard.” Rijiin challenged.
Tantras snarled and leapt in, Rijiin barely dodged the reckless move that would have severely damaged him. The two circled and Rijiin slipped in and he cut Tantras again, his blade slicing cleanly on his throat. A scream echoed the field from the spectators as blood spilled from the wound. Grimacing, the evil wizard’s face showed rage as he staggered backwards.
“Hurt?” Rijiin taunted sarcastically, thinking of the character Ramirez from the Highlander movie. He had taunted the Kurgan character in the fight between them in the movie when he cut him across his throat. He grinned in spite of the situation here. His life certainly had been like the Highlander movie for the years he had been alone, traveling and living many lives. There was a sporadic chuckle from the spectators, recognizing the statement from the Highlander Movie.
“Die elf!” Tantras coughed.
“My cut has improved your voice.” Rijiin sarcastically taunted and he smiled again before ducking the blade as it whistled over his head. The elf had just barely moved the blade in the parry. Again, they circled and Rijiin waited for the right move that would make him victor to this fight, if it were possible. Rijiin dodged as Tantras cast his arcane magic making steaming holes in the snow where it struck. The elf staggered backward as the wizard’ blade flicked out and cut Rijiin’s arm, before the point found home in his chest. Rijiin had only let out a sharp grunt, and staggered falling to his knees as the wizard found himself tackled from behind. He heard the scream and voices from the group now gathered and from others who ran toward the elf.
“Leave him alone!” A voice shouted, as five people had tackled Tantras, including a staff member.
“MISHEAR!” Tantras’ voice thundered and a moment later, he saw the five people who had tackled Tantras, thrown back ten feet. The elf heard a curse, as Janae tackled the wizard, and he watched as Katie followed suit followed by two other upper class students. The wizard drew a dagger and without a word, he cut Janae’s throat, thrusting it Katie’s chest. Blood spurted from the wounds, and both had no chance to cry out. Others were on him but promptly thrown off. Students and staff stood their ground in front of the wizard as a ball of energy appeared over his head as he cast a spell.
“Poran cir argos!” Tantras snarled as the energy thrust out, throwing them back. Many dodged but in the path of the fire, several were not so fortunate. There was a loud scream, as many burned alive. More students and staff squared off before the wizard, much more cautious now as a few of the students tried to help the wounded. He saw Katie and Janae’s classmates held something against the wound in her chest.
A staff member and a couple of students had charged the elf to help him and they knelt beside him.
“Rijiin,” A voice said. The young elf turned his head and saw no one near him.
“Get up Rijiin.” Her voice commanded, echoing in his head. “You must help them.”
“I am finished, my Lady, let me fade.” Rijiin replied, “Let me join the others.”
The group gathered beside the elf heard his reply and raised their eyebrows, wondering who he was talking to. Rijiin closed his eyes for a moment.
“Get up Rijiin! Damn you…” Another voice echoed in his head and he raised an eyebrow when he thought he heard the voice of Mirya, Terrill’s lover. The elf turned his head and thought he could see the images of Sana, Cara, Talla, Terrill, Varden, and Mirya nearby.
Rijiin lay back and closed his eyes. He gasped when he saw something he had not seen in over a hundred years. He saw starlight burning brightly, clearly and coldly in the darkness. He let the starlight flow, something else he had not done in centuries and as it filled in, it did so in a burst of energy. Slowly he sat up, startling the several people who stood or knelt beside him.
“Wait, you will bleed if you get…” A concerned voice said and the elf met the speaker with a silent shake of his head. They let the elf stand on his feet, and they saw the blood had stopped, only covering the leather tunic he wore. The wound was gone. Rijiin motioned with his hand and the blade carried by one of the students flew from his hand.
“Oh my god…!” A voice said, and all attention focused upon Rijiin. Time seemed to stand still, as he began to glow and an aura of starlight energy appeared around him. A wind whipped from behind the elf, making the fallen snow swirl across the field.
“What the f…” A voice exclaimed, “Oh my god, he’s…”
The voice fell into silence as the students, and staff who surrounded Tantras, had stopped and turned. Everyone present had been astonished, seeing Rijiin standing alive, well and walking toward the evil one in red. The wizard himself had also turned, seeing his adversary standing there and his jaw had dropped open at first. Quickly recovering himself, his mouth twitched slightly.
“No.” Rijiin declared solemnly, “I cannot allow this, this is a time that has never known battle and should remain as it is. It shall remain without innocent bloodshed. Come and fight me wizard.”
The young elf had challenged and he pointed the blade at him, “If you dare, because Lord Tantras, you have chosen the wrong timeline and focal point!”
Another shift in time seemed to happen.
“You now have two troubles Lord Tantras.” He challenged coldly, the inflection strong in his voice and full of starlight, “Swords and Elven magic.”
Everyone around them heard Rijiin’s words, the cold icy tone that filled his voice, and he kept the blade pointed at the wizard. Staff and humans looked on as he walked between the bodies of Katie and Janae. He let the power of starlight flow over him and the wizard did not move until Rijiin stood practically in front of him. Tantras roared as he jumped in at the elf, thrusting his weapon toward him and Rijiin had already connected to the stars when the wizard had lunged. The elf expertly brought up his blade easily in one motion to block Tantras’ blade.
Quickly, Rijiin felt the power surge from within and the starlight flowing fluidly through him. The elf moved in easily, able to see images of battle lay out before him. He knew what the wizard planned even before Tantras knew himself. Rijiin’s blade flashed as he dodged, parried or blocked the motion of the wizard as they circled. Both traded steel shot for shot, and Rijiin did not budge letting most of wizard’s powerful strikes expend cleanly into the air. The wizard swung his staff across the body and tried for a head shot. However, before he could execute it, Tantras had to step back quickly, almost breaking his own neck to avoid Rijiin’s blade moving in toward him, but not fast enough. The elf lanced out with another spinning kick, hitting the wizard in his sternum and he flew backwards five feet to land with a hard thud in the snow. The evil mage sat in the snow dazed for a moment, and he reached up to touch his throat when he felt a dribble of warmth on his neck. He stared at the blood, his own blood that now was on his hand and realizing the elf had cut him again. He jumped to his feet.
“Damn you elf.” Tantras spat as he stood there facing the calm expression of Rijiin who waited. The wizard muttered a spell and multiple times his arcane magic and his staff lanced out at the elf with no avail. The wizard’s face showed frustration, as the elf calmly stood there and his bladed staff whistled as he lashed out. Rijiin danced away as Tantras moved in and lifting his leg, the elf drove his knee in his sternum. The wizard exhaled sharply and Rijiin threw him clear. The mage was on his feet, and left then right the elf parried the onslaught by Tantras with his bladed staff.
“This shall end now.” Rijiin exclaimed as their blades clashed loudly. Every strike seemed to resound with thunder across the field as they fought. Lighting and thunder crashed above them, the clouds still billowing as they fought.
“ELTHIA!” The Elf’s voice rang out clear and cold. Students and staff had heard the voice of Rijiin to look up as he parried the bladed staff of the wizard. Rijiin stood his ground his blade at ready. Tantras charged in toward the Elf a second later he saw his opening. He pivoted on one foot as his blade lanced out, slicing the wizard across his throat. Rijiin followed through and pivoting in behind, he let his blade flash as it sliced again. The wizard staggered forward as a grayish complexion appeared on his face and around them time seemed to stop.
No one moved for several seconds as everyone stared at the wizard then to Rijiin. Slowly the head of the wizard, as if in slow motion, slid from his body from the neck. A scream sounded as Tantras’ head rolled three times, and the body fell behind it. It was over and Rijiin stood beside the wizard’s inert body.
A moment later, a glow appeared around the body of Tantras and it became incandescent as the body began to rise upward. White energy and sparks had appeared from the neck of the body that moved outward toward the elf. Students and staff all stared in silence, as the energy enveloped Rijiin and the elf closed his eyes as he soaked in the white energy. He shook as he took in the electrical energy and a moment he screamed as a wind whipped around him. Windows from the nearby buildings blew outward covering everyone in glass. It was same scenario from the Highlander movies after the battle ended between two immortals. Rijiin brought up the blade to his forehead as another burst of energy swirled about the elf before he sank to his knees. Clearing his head quickly, the elf glanced at the others around him, the other students who watched this event from the beginning to end. He stared hard at the body of the wizard.
“What the hell was that?” A voice asked, as a low murmur rippled through the gathered students and staff.
Rijiin held his blade ready as he knelt over the inert body of the wizard. Rijiin's expression became very hard as he peered at the carnage around him and the surprise of the others as he stood there, alive and well.
“No, I will not heal you, damn you.” Rijiin said, almost with a growl, still kneeling over the body of Tantras, his voice filled with cold starlight, “This and your life line will end now.”
Students and staff present had heard him, and they turned, eyebrows raised. The elf’s voice had been hard, without mercy and yet tempered like the steel he held in his hand. Again, glances went from Rijiin to the wizard and back again. The elf, sheathing the blade had turned to walk toward the bodies of those fallen and toward the humans who had gathered around the bodies of their friends who lay in the snow. The staff members and students were baffled. Everyone stayed where they were, as they watched the elf in astonishment and all surprised by what they had just seen.
The elf sighed before he turned and walked to the first two bodies. Here he knelt beside Janae first. Rijiin glanced up at the people who had knelt beside her and they met his look.
“What are you?” A voice asked, “Who was that? Why did you kill him?”
Rijiin said nothing, as a hard look appeared on his face, and an incandescent aura seemed to flow from his hands. The power in his hands seemed to shift as it surrounding him, making him glow brightly. They jumped back as he let the starlight flow and were silent as the strange glowing aura surrounded the bodies of Janae and Katie lying in the snow.
“HEY what are you doing?” A voice asked and Rijiin turned to see Steve Herries standing over him as well as Val and others. Many of the young women were weeping over the dead who lay in the snow. There was a white flash, as if a flash of sunlight pulsed in the cold daylight, the aura still surrounding Rijiin.
“I am and elf and healer.” He replied, “I can help and heal. A talent, I shall lend to repair this madness.”
Rijiin had spoken quietly, and matter-of-factually as he looking up to meet each expression of sorrow.
“But they are dead.” Val said, and Rijiin shook his head. Staff members stood like the students, watching what he was doing, unsure what to do.
“You humans give up too easily.” The elf murmured, “It is so, Val, Steve, but death is only a condition that can be reversed.”
Rijiin pushed back his hair, and revealed his slender ears that showed clearly. They stared at the elf’s fair features in astonishment. They realized he wasn't a student and as he had said, an immortal and a healer.
“What does that… uh… mean?” The young man had been startled to hear his name and like several others had never told Rijiin who they were. Val, like the others had realized that Rijiin had already known who they were from his time together at Bellbrook and where he had been a part of these people’s lives. They had stared aghast at the energy now swirling in a sphere around the elf and their fallen classmates. Rijiin focused the starlight, seeing the wound closing up before his eyes and he felt the young woman’s presence once again before him. Turning he let the incandescence strike Katie and healing energy poured over her. He sensed them both here and living again. Rijiin allowed himself to smile, as time seemed to freeze. He could almost hear the hymn of the Lady sang by Natil as she played her harp, a long time ago.
He looked down at the young woman named Janae and over at Katie who lay in the snow, knowing they could feel healing warmth coursing through their bodies. Slowly both opened their eyes and turning their heads, stared at the face of Rijiin.
“W-where am I?” Janae whispered, “What happened? It’s cold…”
She tried to sit up but Rijiin gently pushed her back. The young woman had a surprised look on her face.
“Just lay there a moment and relax, until you both gain your strength again.” He said, and turned his head to regard Katie who had opened her eyes too. They remembered the last images as a dagger flashed. Everyone looked on in amazement at what had happened. Rijiin had brought them back from death, and healed them.
“What’s going on?”
“Oh my god they’re alive! Look!” A shout said and everyone ran toward Janae and Katie. Janae turned her head.
“What’s wrong? What happened, why are you all staring at me?”
Katie had the same question on her face and they turned to regard Rijiin. They heard the shouts, their classmates and staff members clustering about the two young women. Their eyes never left the elf, kneeling beside them.
“You were both dead.” Rijiin whispered, “All is well, I… I brought you back.”
“I… We were dead?” Katie asked, glancing at Janae, but both did remember the flash of a silver dagger and a brief pain from their slash wound.
“But…h-how can you be alive, we saw you stabbed in the chest!” Katie stammered, staring incredibly at the elf, “You should be dead! I saw the wound!”
“Be at peace, it is very difficult to kill an elf.” Rijiin replied, “Ta nae seasamin. Lle anta est.”
Rijiin spoke Elfish to them, as fluently as he had centuries ago. There were cheers, yelps of joy, shouts echoing around them as Janae and Katie sat up. He stood up, walking toward the others helped up by fellow students. The two peered at the place in the snow where they had fallen over fifteen minutes ago and both wincing at the blood, their blood, that still stained the snow. Many voices echoed across the field, trying to explain to them that they had been dead for ten minutes. Katie’s first reaction was a puzzled glance down at her shirt, seeing the hole and blood on it. Her mouth was open as she pulled the top of her shirt open and peered down at the sound flesh there.
“There is no wound!” Katie exclaimed to herself, still peering at the sound flesh. Her gaze fell upon Rijiin, walking a short distance to the others who had fallen here today and he knelt beside the charred remains of what had been Emily, Stephanie, Brian, Mark and several others, even a staff member or two. Without another word, he reached into his pouch and withdrew an amber stone. The sphere of energy seemed to fill into the stone as he knelt there and it began to glow. Students and staff had turned to stare at Rijiin and had drawn back when they saw the stone he now held in his hands that now was glowing brightly
“Oh my god!” Janae and Katie exclaimed, their smiles fading when they saw the glowing stone. Rijiin sensed their fear and all eyes had turned to stare at him. He thought he heard the harp music somewhere.
“What is he doing?”
“Be at peace.” Rijiin declared, pitching his voice loud enough for them to hear, “I shall deal with the others who perished here this day.”
Closing his eyes, the elf let the starlight flow through him and the orb began to glow dully. There were murmurs of question, yet no one moved, they were just aghast, staring at the strange energy that surrounded Rijiin. Murmuring, he recited the words that belonged to the hymn of the Lady. The aura around the stone grew white hot and he turned to regard the faces of the people around him as he held the orb. He was ready. Outside at the parking lot that he saw the flashing lights of the police and rescue.
“Arae ea circa.” Rijiin said, “Let it come forth. Let time restore to what it was this day.”
“Hold it right there!” An authoritative voice shouted, “Drop that stone!”
“HEY! What is…?” A voice shouted and there was silence as the elf turned his head and flashed a smile.
There was a scream as Rijiin stretched up and as he threw down the orb. A white-hot energy blew outward in a great explosion where the elf stood as the power surrounded the bodies of those slain by Tantras. It blinded everyone as it swirled brightly in a large flash. Rijiin suddenly realized he was doing the exact same thing that Varden had done long ago. He remembered the story of Charity. It had been on a cold winter’s day when his kinsfolk handed the orb to the blacksmith, a protection of magic against the leather woman who lived outside of the village of Saint Brigid. He had been helping her, patching her house, giving her food. The blacksmith had confronted her when she had appeared outside her doorway, and keeping the peace, he handed the orb to her. She threw it down and there was a great explosion. The disfigured woman had vanished and Charity had been borne.
On the other side of the large gym, in the building next door, the loud explosion echoed as the energy raced across the snow and it literally shook the ground. The students of the Junior High next door and staff had ran to the windows and saw a wave of energy appear, shaking the ground as it rolled across each building. As the hot energy flew outward, striking the buildings, there was a flash and silence. Rijiin was standing in the small field outside when the flash cleared, waiting for the effects to wear off and he stared hard at the snow. Time had shifted and everything had seemed different. He looked upon the empty ground at the white snow, then looking up he saw Emily, Stephanie, and the others killed here, standing nearby. He smiled broadly. The vehicles had vanished as time was reverted backward.
“By our Lady…!” The elf thought, “Natil! They’re here!”
His mind had shouted out in relief as he had stood watching them. Their expressions had been surprise. The students killed by Tantras’ arcane magic had been staring at each other in bewildered silence, unable to comprehend what had just happened. Their last memories had been their attacking a man in red, a flash, and then nothing else. Slowly they turned their heads, peering in astonishment at the elf who stood there smiling. They turned to peer at Janae and Katie, then to the startled staff and students, now in the doorway. Blood still stained the snow where the two students, their friends and classmates had fallen. A harsh reminder of the violence that had happened here, but a piece of time was reverted, changed where no one fell this day at the hand of Tantras.
They turned to glance at the silent stone expression of Rijiin as a cold wind whipped around them, rustling the elf’s gray cloak. Large flakes of a steady snow began to fall from the clouds above. Time changed back, reverting to what was and the memory of what the wizard had done to the students was fading. There was surprise from inside as Rijiin glanced at the faces behind him in the doorway and to the few who were outside a moment ago.
“W-what happened?” Katie whispered, “What the heck did you do?”
“I was able to help and heal. I changed the time stream and pulled back time to what was. I saved Emily and the others from death and changed the history timeline that we had traversed.” Rijiin murmured, “They have been restored to what was. They died in this place by a man who had come for me and that was not the focal point of this time stream. I am the focal point.”
The elf glanced at the confused expressions everyone present, who had heard the elf’s explanation. Other students and staff clustered about the elf, the two young women and the few who had been hurt here today. There was a lot of shouting and embracing, especially for Emily, Stephanie and the others. Everyone that had seen them fall, students and staff were glad to see them. Emily and the others turned to the elf as he managed a grin of his own as they clustered about him. The elf stepped back.
“Be at peace, you are all safe, and I must leave. The time stream has been restored to what it was and the evil that happened here is no more.” The elf exclaimed, and he turned with only a swish of his cloak.
“H-how did you do that?”
The elf sighed.
“Humans,” He said, and grinned.
“Thank you, I think.” Emily said embracing Rijiin warmly and even kissed him on the lips. There was a smile and laughter, whistles, catcalls even an ‘Ooh and ahhhs’ out of the crowd. They held it for a full five minutes.
“Thank you Rijiin.” Emily whispered lustily again, the kiss she gave him was sweet, filled with promise. A frown appeared on his face.
“My thanks, but I am taken by someone special, somewhere in time and space.” Rijiin said. “But a young man long ago loved you and he went west to California. One who was in Ms Hill's homeroom last year and you waved to every morning. He is always there and going to love you.”
Emily gasped loudly.
“H-how did you know that?” Emily stammered and the elf merely grinned bowing slightly. Janae and Katie also tried to embrace the elf but this time their hands passed right through him.
“What the…” They both gasped, as a Cheshire cat grin appeared on Rijiin’s face and he felt the winds of time pulling him. Emily put out her hand. The others looked on in silence, as the elf nodded slightly to the groups gathered, and the staff.
“Fear not. You shall see me again if you desire to do so. I shall be waiting west in a high place in the center of your nation.” Rijiin told them and pausing he saw Emily’s hands out and the sad expression on her face.
“Don’t worry.” He told the group, “Hey it’s a kind of magic…”
With that, the elf smiled at the group gathered, disappearing in a flash.
Lying in the camp he had made, back in the fifteenth century, Rijiin stirred from his sleep and slowly opened his eyes. He sat up and panned a long astonished look to the familiar trees and forest around him. Slowly he stood up, and cleaned his camp before turning to walk not more than fifty paces. Here he would stand again at the remains of Saint Brigid. The elf felt confused by the memories and images of battle. Rijiin wondered if while he had slept, he dreamed the whole thing. He closed his eyes to see only blackness there. Even the starlight had been a possible hallucination or part of a dream.
“The memories were so vivid and real.” Rijiin thought, “Was it?”
He did not know or could not be sure if it were a dream or not. He glanced down at his tunic, a hole was there and the remnants of his blood that covered it. The elf gasped loudly, when he saw it, and reality set in. It had happened, he really was there, through time and space. However the questions were still there, why he was jumping through time and space to places he had already been. He quickly repaired the hole, mending it as he sat next to the fire of his camp.
An hour later, Rijiin quickly cleaned up his campsite, putting out the fire and making it look like no one was ever there. A few minutes more elapsing before Rijiin had traveled back to the remains of Saint Brigid and stood in the falling sleet and rain to stare at this depressing sight. Rijiin stood as Natil had, at least a hundred years before him, at the edge of the remains of this village. The elf touched his forehead and bowed slightly. A solemn scene remained there as rain fell upon it and the drops pelted the hood of the elf’s cloak.
“I must go.” Rijiin said, “It is here that I say goodbye and I shall never forget you all. Take care wherever you are and my thanks.”
With that, the elf turned and he walked away from the remains of Saint Brigid. Rijiin had done the same thing as Natil had done too. She had said goodbye to the town and the people who had known the elves and accepted them as is. The Harper then moved off to the northeast and he unknowingly followed his beloved Harper’s steps, as she had traveled the same direction to leave Adria all together.
Walking alone, the young elf journeyed along the eastern road that would take him again to the north, leading to another village not unlike Saint Brigid, called Furze and here he traveled alone through the falling snow. A couple of hours elapsed and he soon came to the familiar fields of Furze. He stepped up to the bridge that would cross the Malvern River into the village itself, walking the road openly and undisguised. The young elf had pushed the hood of his cloak back, and adjusted his hair, revealing his fair features, clearly showing he was an elf as he threw the penny toll into the basket. He glanced at the astonished guard who stood on watch. The guard stared incredulously at Rijiin and the elf only nodded respectfully to him as he crossed the bridge.
The elf, as he entered the village, met the many expressions of the village folk that lived here, as well as soldiers and clergy who had walked through the streets. They eyed him suspiciously and the Rijiin sensed their hatred, disapproval, even fear of him. The people knew who and what he is. He remembered the Inquisition and the conditioned fear that had gripped this village. The common-folk, looked away when they saw the elf, or moved aside to wait for him to pass. Mothers grabbed their children, drawing them back against them. Many soldiers scowled at the elf, and low murmurs echoed by the people present through the town. Rijiin realized he is getting the same reaction as he had received in the northern-western town, Maris. The same one that ended up badly, the elf taking a dozen life-lines of the soldiers, and cutting them down in cold blood. Thankfully the onslaught had ended with the Captain of the guard stepping end to pass him through.
“What do they fear?” He thought, as he nodded to a Dominican Priest who walked toward him.
“Blessings upon you this day good priest,” He told him and the priest only grimaced as he passed the elf. Behind Rijiin, the priest had suddenly paused, turning to realize that an elf, a heretical being they were out to vanquish from earth completely, had passed him. He turned and frowned, staring at Rijiin, like the common folk of the village all had.
“A heretic!” exclaimed the priest, as other clergy joined him and a low murmur passed through his small group. The priest glanced at the guards who stared at him too.
“What are you waiting for?” He shouted, pointing at Rijiin with a shaking finger, “Arrest that creature in the name of God!”
Screams followed as soldiers ran from all directions and Rijiin drew his blade. He parried the attacks with speed and precision, slaying each soldier with without a word. Rijiin with his blade still drawn and still in his hand he walked down the middle of the street.
“Come and fight me damn you.” He snarled at the soldiers who put up their hands and withdrew from the street. He lashed out and his blade flashed as another soldier fell. Others fled from his presence when they realized that this being was not going to give them mercy.
“No not you!” A voice said. “Please sir, mercy!”
Rijiin said nothing and slew him anyway as he continued walking to the far end of the village. The elf headed to the eastern gate that would take him out of here. He fought only the soldiers who had been brave enough to challenge him and others he left behind their lack of action allowing them to watch a wake of violence move through the streets. The elf sensed they were allowing him to leave despite the urging of the clergy who screamed curses at them and at the elf. The elf turned, tired of the shouting and he charged the clergy. Sword flashing he slew each one and they fell in a bloody heap. He held one and he had the point of his blade at his throat. Fear gripped the clergy as he raised his hand to motion the soldiers back.
“Next time, be wary.” Rijiin snarled, “I give you back your life. Easily taken and now freely given. May you use it wisely in the future!”
“You never had it Satan.” Spat the priest, “It is not yours to give or take.”
Rijiin grimaced as he roughly grabbed the priest’s collar front, and in front of the many soldiers and common folk, he ran his sword through him. Blood splattered from his body onto the ground and there was a scream.
“Then die.” The elf said coldly, “And vengeance to my slain brothers and sisters, and their needless persecution. For, I am the last of those folk to roam these woods.”
The priest heard the words and a smile of triumph appeared on his face then a look of fear. The common folk had heard his words and frowns appeared on their faces, a growing hostility toward the clergy and the Inquisition. Rijiin sensed death sweep in to take the soul of the priest a moment later, and he pulled out his blade from the corpse wiping the blood from it onto the dead priest’s robe before standing upright. The elf held the blade ready as he made his way to the edge of town, and walked down the middle of he street. He glanced on either side at the common-folk who stood watching him and soldiers who stood back away from him.
“What do they fear?” The elf thought, “Mass hysteria And paranoia has overcome common sense.”
When the elf reached the gate, he met the look of some soldiers on the gate who had seen the violence in the square and they drew back, allowing him to pass. No one challenged him, no one followed in pursuit, having heard the words of the elf who spoke clear, concisely and his tone ice cold. Rijiin returned a respectful nod to soldiers at the gate as he passed and disappeared into the falling snow. The soldiers and town-folk had grimaced, scowling at the priests and soldiers when the elf had killed them in cold blood. They saw death in his eyes and the hard expression on his face. He was death and he was life, an immortal who was able to do both. The folk peered in the direction of the elf and glanced at each other in silence. However, he was nowhere in sight.
A few hours later, the immortal elf found himself far from Adria on the road to the east where he would travel for full day before he camped. He managed to make it this far without incident, leaving the control and realm of the Inquisition forever. As he sat alone, beside his makeshift cover in his camp and next to a warm fire, he sat with his eyes closed to stare at the darkness. The elf wished he could see the starlight as the elves could a long time ago and wished he could go to the Lady, clad in blue and silver robes to seek her council and wisdom. All he saw was darkness, however, that power the elves once had, was completely gone, long since vanished over the many centuries of wandering by the elf. Opening his eyes at the sound of the crackling fire, he stared at the burning wood and embers as they traveling upward into the star filled sky.
The elf thought of the trip to the future that he had undertaken with Natil and wished that he could return to those times when everything made a difference. A time where there were few elves left gathered in the thickest part of the forests of Malvern. But that was over a century ago as Rijiin realized he was alone now, with no star to guide him in a now vast world of men.
In the future, at the same moment in time, that a lone truck from U haul™ lumbered down the highway known as 50-East as it crossed the long stretch road across the desolate part of Nevada. It is heading east toward the next town called Ely and inside the cab, Katherine and Mimi occupy it. Together the young women travel on the long road ahead with no idea where they are going or a reason why. They both found themselves drawn by an irresistible urge to head east, just as Rijiin had told them they would, after four months of traveling to the shop in Eastridge and not able to find the portal that took them to see Rijiin and Natil. They both packed up everything they owned, after not finding the portal, put it in a truck and departed abruptly from California without warning to anyone.
As Katherine sat behind the wheel, Mimi peered out ahead as she took pictures with her camera and they entered the outskirts of the town of Ely. Each one took turns driving while the other sat with their eyes closed idly staring at the starlight that seemed to twinkle in the darkness, to take pictures, idly chat with each other or listen to the radio. They had a power they still did not understand, one given to them by Rijiin and his beloved Harper's healing powers several months ago on the campus of DeAnza College. A power of help and healing that would change them both into what they were supposed to be, immortal elves.
The elves magic had changed Mimi first but as they did so, the powers swirled and surrounded the rest of the group present. Mimi and Katherine both could see the starlight that the firstborn elves could see, its power changing them as the weeks and month progressed, but the starlight still troubled them both. They did not know what they were supposed to do as elves. Both had traveled frequently to Eastridge and had found the portal that took them through time and space to the past. They had arrived many times, four hundred plus years, where Rijiin and Natil welcomed them warmly with the other elves. Lately, however, they found themselves left empty and hollow after not able to find the portal to take them to Adria. Only this trip had brought them closer together in knowing what they were looking for.
Mouse also knew also that by now that Robert would be going ape shit frantic, finding and reading the note, she and Katherine had left him. Their family also was probably frantic too, scrambling to understand their abrupt departure, which Mimi had described as necessary. Mimi had told him that she loved him, and needed to seek out what called to her. She deliberately omitted her destination, who she traveled with, and when she would return as she did for her family. The youthful elf closed her eyes, letting the starlight touch her very soul and it seemed to calm her excitement and uneasiness of what they expected to find ahead of them.
“Where the heck are we Mouse?” Katherine asked, and Mimi turned her head, opening her eyes and reached out to grab the map.
“We’re 5 miles from Ely, Nevada.” She replied, “We’d better fill up, it is a long way to the next town in Utah.”
Their truck rumbled down the street as they entered the city of Ely, a main drag of buildings, a downtown, and many casinos line the streets. It is an old town, most of the buildings dingy from the heat of summer, and the harshness of winter. Ely is a former mining town that would be their way-point to fill the U haul™ truck’s huge fuel tank and their stomachs. As Mimi pumped the gas, she stood at the station’s pumps taking pictures with her camera while Katherine grabbed some snacks for them to eat on the way. When it was finished fueling, Mimi locked the truck and walked into the convenience store to the bathroom. She returned a few minutes later as Katherine stood outside the truck, stretching her legs, arms and back as they prepared to continue their journey.
“I got you a Dr Pepper™, some chips and some candies.” Katherine offered and Mouse smiled, “...Also got some more film.”
“With thanks.” Mouse replied, stepping up to seat herself in the driver’s side while Katherine took up the passenger seat. The inside of the cab was rather spacious, despite the camera bag, purses and grocery bags that sat on the floor between them. It had a standard two-bucket seat setup, with a bench fold down for a third passenger. It was quite roomy for a truck.
“Say, did you call Robert?” Katherine asked suddenly, “Let him know we made it to Ely?”
Mouse shook her head negatively.
“No way, I told him why I left and omitted our destination, since neither of us knows where that lies.” Mouse replied, “Actually I should, but I don’t think he wants to speak with me. After all, he thinks I am not me, but someone else. He obviously didn’t like what Rijiin and Natil did to me I guess.”
“I can bet that he didn’t like you leaving either.” Mouse added, making Katherine laugh.
“I’ll talk to him.” Katherine offered, and Mouse shook her head again.
“Let’s call him when we reach the next town and stop for the night.” Mouse suggested, “We have many miles to go.”
She was suddenly thankful that she had avoided the abuse she would have had to endure talking to Robert. Mouse found she was glad to be away from that influence to find their true calling of where they now belonged.
“What about your family?” Katherine asked, and Mimi grimaced, also shaking her head. She had talked to her sister not long ago, but even then could not give details to her why she was moving or where. It was because she didn't know where that she and Katherine would end up.
“Off we go then.” Katherine declared with a grin and nod.
Mouse turned over the engine and it idled quietly before she put it into gear. Hitting the accelerator, the truck slowly crept forward onto the driveway. Mimi kept watch for traffic before punching it and the truck roared back onto the 50-East. Once again, they sped down the highway and Mimi sipped at her Dr. Pepper™ while Katherine closed her eyes, to gaze at the starlight she saw there. She thought of Natil and Rijiin as she did so. The young woman wondered if they were alive, well, and wondered if they would find them at their destination.
“They said they were immortal.” She thought, “I wonder if they survived through the centuries and certainly hope we have someone to greet us at our new destination.”
Katherine thought back to when the Elves had come to the campus almost a year now, and the strangeness hey had put upon the group called the DeAnza Rat pack. She managed a smile, sitting with her eyes closed as the images swirled in the ether.
Natil and Rijiin entered the Fireside Dining Room, the few who were in the room who had gathered here on this cold, December morning had looked over at the doorway in astonishment. A low murmur echoed the room, and Mimi's friends had turned too. The group watched as the elf walked toward the table with silent steps, standing silently by Mouse until she turned her head, and curiously looked up at the cloaked figure who stood beside her. Behind him a few students, including a few staff had gathered at the doorway to peer at the cloaked figures in astonishment and raising an eyebrow at the blade at his side. The others at the table were silent as they peered at the cloaked couple.
Rijiin, with a flair for drama, reached up slowly to push back the gray hood of his cloak revealing his fair features and nodded a greeting to Mimi. He then glanced silently at the group around her known to him as the *DeAnza Rat Pack, who are all seated at the table. Their reaction was silent surprise as they stared at his unfamiliar face. Mimi looked upon the elf, noting he was very handsome with his fair features, his long brown hair that cascaded to his shoulders, streaked and sprinkled with silver. She also peered into his solemn gray eyes. The middle-aged woman saw their laughter and a twinkle of what she thought was starlight there. If Mouse had known the elves, she would have been right.
*Authors Note: DeAnza Rat Pack consisted of Mimi, Robert, Dave, Katherine, Chris, Omar, Vi, Steve, Patrick, Cathy, 'Jello' Jen, John, Ray, Christopher, and Katherine as named in story.
Low murmurs echoed the Fireside Dining Room and both of the elves let the many comments pass without response. Everyone present had their eyes locked on Rijiin for several minutes until they finally glanced at Natil who stood beside Rijiin with her cloak’s hood shadowing her fair features.
Rijiin's eyes then fell upon Becky McGough, a youthful woman who sat beside Mimi. The young woman is someone whom he had met not long before his journey into a past and showing recognition, he nodded silently to her. Rijiin smiled when realizing that she has not changed during the time he had been away. She is the same, average, heavyset woman, with hazel colored eyes and long gracious brown hair that spilled to her shoulders. She is clad in a striped t-shirt, black knit pants, sandals, and a thick purple coat. Her reaction had been astonishment, like the others, and had gasped loudly as she peered at the stranger's face who had drawn back his hood. Immediately, the young woman had recognized the strange green and gray leather garb the elves wore, also the pendant that hung around his neck. The young woman had gained a lot of her knowledge to identify the garb and pendant from her boyfriend who practiced the ways of Wicca. Even with some of what he had taught her, she was unsure exactly whom or what she was seeing. The garb, Rebecca knew, had not been around for four plus centuries and neither had pendants, cloaks or swords. She shook her head in misunderstanding.
Sitting on her right, Robert, Dave, Chris and Omar were beside her at the table. Katherine, Jen and Vi sat on the other side of the table. They are all astonished to see the cloaked figures, and then the elf’s face as Becky was.
Rijiin likewise met each gaze with a slight nod of his head and realized that he had not seen any of them for a long time, having changed only slightly than he remembered them.
"Blessings upon you this day Mistress Stewart, the hand of the Lady be upon you." He said quietly, speaking with a calming tone and with that, the elf touched his forehead to bow wide and low.
Everyone sitting with Mouse at the table, including Mimi herself smiled at the old-fashioned motion. Rebecca smiled at the use of the ancient witches greeting, 'Merry Met.', but she also frowned as she pair. An illustration came to mind that she had seen in one of her boyfriend's many magazines from Colorado, from Watterson's New Age Emporium and she managed a gasp.
"No way… It cannot be." She thought to herself and peered incredulously at the pair.
As for Mouse, she intently looked upon the elf's fair features and his ghostly familiar face. The middle-aged woman did not understand why at first, clearly startled, but quickly remembered the hallucination she had yesterday. It had been the one where she found herself spinning in a vortex after disappearing through a circle of energy in the middle of S-Quad. She then found herself flying high above an unfamiliar landscape below, a journey where Mimi had ended up landing in a forest clearing and where she saw two people, like this young man and his strange companion who now stood before her.
Mimi peered at the pendant of a crescent moon, and interlocked, ray star made of gold and silver that hung from a gold chain around Rijiin's neck.
“Holy fucking shit!” Mouse thought, as she peered at the familiar pendant that seemed to twinkle brightly in the fluorescent light. Quickly, she unzipped her belt pouch to withdraw the same piece of jewelry from the main pocket and her eyes darted from Rijiin's necklace, to the pendant and chain in her hand many times. She realized it is the same necklace as the elves wore that the strange robed lady had given to her while standing in the middle of the grassy meadow with her. The same one that had re-seated her in the chair after she had taken that spill in the quad that had thrown her from it. Strangely, the pendant in her hand began to glow brightly with an almost incandescence and Mimi gripped it tightly. The middle-aged woman suddenly remembered the woman, clad in the blue and silver robe, and her statement about a messenger being sent to her, in addition to telling her many things. It made Mimi suddenly wonder, making her tilt her head slightly, as she looked upon the fair features of Rijiin.
Mimi and the others murmured as they peered at the pair and Mouse herself, had cast a puzzled look at the other cloaked figure standing beside him. None of the others at the table had known about what their friend had experienced a day ago, and she had told absolutely no one about it. It would have been uncomfortable for her to explain something that she could not exactly understand herself.
"Rijiini, tir- n'ea…" A voice said softly in elfish and he turned his head to meet curious students, a few staff members of the college, and four security officers who stood nearby. His expression and solemn gaze met their gazes, making them frown when they saw the bright twinkle in his gray eyes. They backed off slowly, and the elf nodded before he turned back to Mimi who sat there staring at him.
Mouse had heard the name and her expression had been puzzlement, and undying curiosity about these strangers.
"Thank you for that greeting, I think, uh… Rijiin, is it? What kind of name is that anyway? D-do I know you?" Mimi croaked, "Have we met before? I certainly don't remember you."
The elf said nothing at first, formulating his answer before he smiled.
"Indeed we have Ms. Stewart. We met once a long time ago, but you might not remember me." He replied smoothly, making Mimi smile when she heard the strange accent in his voice. He managed a thin, almost pained smile.
"I am Rijiin L'Theil, the Just and I am at your service. This is my traveling companion, kinswoman and my beloved wife, Natil." He told them, and glanced over at Natil, to nod slightly to her. The Harper, with the same flair for drama, reached up and she slowly drew back the gray hood of her cloak.
Mouse, the others at the table and around them had gasped openly when they stared at the young woman in astonishment, at her extreme beauty. A few whistles followed and a low murmur rippled through the Fireside Dining Room. Next to Mimi, Robert pursed his lips exhaling a sharp breath at the young and shockingly beautiful elf-maiden who stood beside Rijiin. Dave, Omar, Chris, Vi, Jen, Katherine and Becky exchanged silent glances at each other, turning their full attention to the couple who stood before them. Mouse found herself staring blatantly at the elf maiden.
"My god she's beautiful. She is just like the red/gold haired maiden I saw in the clearing the other day with the handsome black haired young man." The disabled woman thought as she shook her head. Mimi blushed, unable to take her eyes off the strange woman beside Rijiin. Natil heard her thoughts and turned to nod to Mouse. Both of the elves realized, what Mimi was describing to herself, happened to be Mirya and Terrill before they arrived back at the encampment.
"You have my thanks Mistress Stewart." Natil said aloud, smiling at Mimi who grimaced. She suddenly sensed something amiss and did not realize that the Harper had been initially reading her thoughts. Everyone had turned their heads in surprise when they heard the Harper speak, her accent and inflection strong in her voice.
"I-I really do not know you Rijiin or you Natil… Who are you?" Mimi asked, "Where did we meet?"
Mouse sensed their obvious knowledge and acknowledgment of her. The disabled woman was confused and the only link that tied her to the couple was the pendant around their necks.
"Be at peace Mimi, we are friends and here to repay an old debt to you. It is one that I owe a lot to you and will repay it with healing, comfort, and aid. Something my people are known for." He declared solemnly, "Be at peace, no harm will fall upon you dear lady, as I sensed your need and traveled a fair distance to come to you. Among my people you are well known for your courage, kindness, compassion, generosity, and understanding."
Mouse sat quietly in her chair, coloring slightly with his compliments before looking up at Rijiin's strangely familiar fair features. Beside her, Becky was shaking her head.
"But Rijiin, what old debt," Mouse questioned, "I just do not remember you."
She turned her head to frown at the couple. The elves both met her expression with a shrug and Mimi saw his eyes, like the Harper, that twinkled brightly with starlight.
"Aye, we do." Natil murmured softly, "Please be at peace, Ms. Stewart, and trust us that what we say is true."
“To answer you question, beloved Mimi, we met here at DeAnza, a few years ago." He told her, "You were the first person to actually take me by the hand and show me the ropes of this place, and I never forgot that kindness.”
Mimi's mind was a whirl of thought, having helped so many new people on this campus, and realized that he was one of probably thousands she had greeted in her long tenure here at DeAnza College. Perplexed Mimi grimaced at the elves.
“You have met many people Mimi, since you have been here.” Dave said, “He obviously knows you very well and you obviously made a impression upon him to remember you like this.”
“Uhm, if I know you... did you always wear that?” Mimi asked, “Or looked like that? Y-you seem so familiar to me.”
“Nay mistress, I did not look like this when you met me.” He replied, “I was much different when we met. Be at peace, it has been a moderate amount of time that has elapsed.”
“Oh...” Mouse replied, suddenly confused by his answer.
“Well it is a little complicated, but if it helps, I know all of you.” Rijiin replied, pointing at the table, “The DeAnza Ratpack....”
The elf named off everyone seated at the table, making them gasp aloud.
Katherine gasped when he pointed at her, and spoke her name clearly. He grinned at the astonished look she gave him. None of the group had introduced themselves, and it was very obvious that he knew them quite well. She suddenly felt something click, although to her, it was very impossible.
“Jesus, you are so familiar to me too.” Katherine stammered, “It must be someone we know Mouse, and who was in the group with us. if he knows all of us.”
“Yes, who are you Rijiin?” Mouse asked, “Please...”
“I am a friend.” The elf replied simply, trying desperately to not tell them anything that might destroy the time stream as they knew it. As for Mimi, she wondered if it was part of what she considered to be so called hallucination a couple of days when she saw the forest and stood in the meadow in front of the woman that helped her into her chair after being thrown from it. Mouse frowned by the images that she had seen, and shook her head.
“It cannot be what I saw a couple of days ago, the couple in the clearing I found myself in certainly didn't look like Rijiin or Natil.” Mimi thought, “Was it a hallucination or not?”
Behind Mimi, however, in the doorway of the internet room, John, Becky's boyfriend, had opened the door to start the day in the Internet Lab. As he opened the door, stepping through, he had glanced only once to the table where he saw his girlfriend sitting with Mimi and the others. He smiled at her and secured the door, but he also did the classic double take when he looked again, seeing the unfamiliar faces of Rijiin and Natil who stood beside them, surrounded by many others. As his eyes focused upon the couple, he stood watching them, astonished by the garb and the presence of the young couple clad in the strange costumes that were clearly not of this period.
"Holy shit! Talk about a blast from the past." John thought to himself, shaking his head as he looked at the couple, "Elves? In the modern age? It cannot be."
Becky's boyfriend found himself looking back in his memory remembering what he read about elves and the folklore legends in one of his Wicca books. The texts that were about the goddess, the one that warlocks, witches and folklore legends like elves worshiped. It also talked about their ability in magic and powers of healing, known as the fair folk who once resided in the woods of the world. He had known about the old stories and wondered if this was truly what he saw here before him.
"Okay, this is getting to be very weird." John thought, grimacing when he saw Rijiin's features clearly and they matched a spell book illustration he had bought from a magazine located in a Colorado based store. Quickly, he approached the table, and moved toward Becky who sat on the one side. Leaning down he kissed her, and stood meeting the gazes of the couple who had glanced at him. John acknowledged the couple with touch of the forehead, a wide-stance and low bow to them. He squinted his eyes, seeing clearly the pendant that was described belonging to their deity, their Creatrix whom they worship. He stood beside his girlfriend who sat at the table.
"Alanae ea yolisi, Elthia, Vayna oea…" He stated, greeting them formally, " Mae govannen."
Rebecca gasped, as did the entire table, when he spoke Elvish to the couple. Rijiin and Natil both glanced each other, before nodding formally to him.
"Ve' noldo…." Rijiin replied, making the group, and even the room gasp.
"John? Do you know them?" Becky asked, and he glanced at his girlfriend to shake his head.
"Never met them, until now, but it is the proper custom how to address them." John stated solemnly, "With no disrespect, fair ones."
"Aye, none taken." Rijiin replied, and smiled thinly at him.
Inside his mind, a whirl of emotion overwhelmed his senses as he narrowed his eyes, examining and watching the couple. He was very amazed that he was seeing something that should not belong in this century and was wondering where exactly they were from. They were just like the magazine articles and legends, looking just like the illustration in one of his magazines from Colorado. John already knew they were not human, dressed up in the strange garb, and did not belong in the century. Also, by the look of the weapon at Rijiin's side, battle-worn and well used, made him realize that he had seen much battle and probably death, wherever they were from.
“Who are they John?” His girlfriend asked, “Are they...?”
She paused as she gasped quietly, and peered incredibly at the couple.
"Excuse me, Rijiin, are you and Natil…?" She started to ask, and her voice seemed to fail, falling off into a whisper. The elf turned his head, smiling slightly as he nodded.
"It is true mistress." He whispered, only loud enough for the table to hear him, "We are whom you think... we are here to help and heal, from out of time and space, to help Mimi. "
“Bullshit...” Robert exclaimed promptly, making the elf turn his head, and grimace at the comment. "It's probably one of dunderheads loser friends dressed up like this and are pretending to be something else."
“By the Lady...” The elf murmured, rolling his eyes at Natil who shot a questioning look at him. Robert had cut him off in mid sentence, but the elf had let it pass. He did not let the discourtesy and obvious insult phase him. The others glanced at each other when they heard the insult and then back to Rijiin who had ignored it.
"Robert, that was not nice, and to your information, if anyone is a dunderhead it is you…" Becky snarled, "I don't think my boyfriend here would do something like that. I have a news flash. I think we are looking at the genuine article."
She, however, did glance at Rijiin for confirmation. She saw Rijiin manage a slight smile and a nod to the young woman who was seated at the table.
"I am neither the people you speak of mistress, nor have I been paid to impersonate such a thing. I am as I am." His voice stated evenly.
“If it is proof you all seek of my identity...” The elf started, “As all humans do, seeing proof and question everything... Then here it is...”
An aura shimmered around the Elf. Becky's face had showed a smile, but it suddenly faded as this strange aura began to grow around him. It became bright and incandescent as it started in his hands first, then fully surrounding him. The faces of the others, including John, had shown alarm and confusion, making them all back away from the table. Others who had been present backed off also.
"Be at peace, I am here for a reason and do not answer to any of you..." Rijiin said suddenly, turning to Mimi, who sat in her chair, "As time is short…"
She had her eyes tightly closed when his hands touched her shoulders.
"Just relax beloved Mimi." He told her, letting the energy and starlight flow through him, as he utilized the healing powers of the elves of the fourteenth century. Mouse suddenly was reminded of someone else she knew and she instantly thought of her friend, who willingly massaged her shoulders for her. Mimi realized that Rijiin had the same gentle touch as she remembered her friend to have.
The elf suddenly grimaced, hearing her thoughts, and turned his head to focus upon the disabled woman. Natil heard her thoughts too, showing surprise, but also a sad expression appeared her fair features. Rijiin met the Harper's expression in silence as he managed a shrug. Mimi had thought of him when he was human and when he was reported deceased and murdered a year ago. The San Jose Police and the FBI had been called because neighborhood kids found an unrecognizable body, his body, lying in a nearby cement culvert across from Eastridge Mall. They had identified him by his wallet found in his pocket left untouched. The elf suddenly realized, other than the portal not being there, this was the main reason why he could not return to the future. He had been killed and his humanities were returned to the future after he had been transformed into an elf. Everything suddenly made sense to Rijiin and this new fact suited the elf just fine.
"Ta ilya forya, a'mael." He murmured with a sigh, "Reea forya Natili. Mimitti quenea I'-zuz, taea e' I'- silma. Amin curtamanea ta eller."
Rijiin told her it was all right, Mimi spoke the truth. It is in the starlight. I saw it there. The Harper picked up his meaning, and his reaction to it. The reaction to this piece of information, confirmed by Rijiin, was not the one reaction she expected him to take. He had just confirmed Mimi's thought, quickly able to look into the starlight where he could manipulate images of the past, present, and future, his consciousness moving among them effortlessly. Rijiin managed an affirmative nod to Natil when he met her questioning expression.
"Seere a'mael, amin cael- utue amin telaien, amin yestaien. Amin utuea amin yamen e' I' palurin. Ta uumea il'- karn bir n'atyaea tanya amin gurthea. Amin valin- ta tele- ar' amin naa ie' seere yassen ta." Rijiin replied, telling her to be at peace, I have found my ending, my beginning. I have found my place in the world. It does not make a difference that I died. I am happy it is finished and I am at peace with it.
Katherine, sitting on the other side of the table, heard Natil gasp aloud when she heard his answer and she had slowly nodded. The Harper had not expected to hear this answer from him. A look of respect, admiration and deeper love for Rijiin appeared on her face. Beside the elves, Mimi's friends and Mouse herself listened to the strange language they spoke between them. There were murmurs among the gathered people here, who heard the curious language between the elves, and how it freely flowed. Katherine found the words eloquent, and beautiful.
"What language is that, is that elfish?" Becky asked, and there were murmurs throughout the room. Everyone was equally curious about the couple and the strange glow and power they wielded like a double-edged sword that he would carry at his side. It surrounded the group at the table and spilled outward, growing and expanding.
"What did you tell her, it was absolutely… amazing…"
Rijiin had not answered Becky's question as he turned his attention to Mimi, and he placed his hands back on her shoulders. Everyone watched as the incandescent glow appeared around them, and it swirled about the elf, Mimi and her friends who sat with her. Rijiin shook his head after a moment and turning his head, he grimaced at the Harper.
"I don't know about this." John said, "If I am up on languages, I think he told her to be at peace that he found his ending something about a beginning and something about his death that he is happy it happened…"
"Lle quena eldalie?" Natil asked, turning to John and he smiled. The elf-maiden asked if he spoke elfish.
"Bir -elle." He replied with a bow, "Quenjen rangwea I' quenjen en' yuuyo palurinea. Firya, nae Eldalie… “
John told her that he spoke a little that it is best to understand the best of both worlds. Human, and Elven… Natil nodded with a smile, and glanced at Rijiin.
"There is a lot to do still Natil, and I am growing fatigued. Perhaps if you play something on your harp, we can help her together. There is a lot more to do than I can do alone."
Katherine turned her head as he spoke to the Harper and the elf maiden considered his request for a moment had nodded in agreement. She took a seat in an open chair to pull out her harp from under her cloak. The first reaction of everyone present was a questioning look when everyone saw the harp, but soon understood that the Harper was going to play something on it. Natil's small hands danced over the strings as she quickly inspected the cherry wood frame and the bronze strings. She quickly tuned the instrument.
"Naa lle desiel Natili?" He asked her, the Harper met his look with a grin and a silent nod. He asked if she was ready.
"Amin' e desiel, Rijiini," Natil replied, still smiling as she put the harp in her lap, and quickly she readied herself to play. She had informed him that she was ready and positioned her hands on the strings of the harp.
Everyone in the room noted that the room's attention focused on Natil when her fingers rippled off a couple of notes. Mimi's friends sitting at the table had smiled when they heard the notes. Around the room, there were quiet murmurs, before silence completely fell over the entire room. It would be a feat, to Mouse's knowledge, only the second time ever to happen in this dining hall. The Harper's hands expertly moved across the strings with a ripple of notes. As the elf maiden began to play, she played one melody written at the beginning of her existence and the world. The notes were a familiar melody that Mimi recognized from the other day in the quad. The old song came to Natil easily and fluidly as she played, her hands dancing across the bronze strings.
"Ele asta a mirurore,
Cira a ciraie,
Natil sang the words quietly in elfish as her hands danced across the strings of the small cherry wood, and bronze-strung harp. She had played the healing notes, as Rijiin's starlight energy remained focused into Mimi and it spilled unknowingly into the others around her. Mouse of course, felt the warmth in her limbs and the others watched in silence at the strange aura that seemed to surround her and everyone at the table. No one in the room interfered or moved. Students and staff around them looked on as the mysterious young woman played a strange melody on her harp, shifting with several variations. The people who had gathered did not understand what was happening and did not understand that she, with her companion, was helping and healing Mimi.
Katherine's head turned slowly, casting a sweeping look about the room, watching the many faces in the Fireside Dining Room and she smiled. The silence in the room was ominous as the only sound was Natil's harping echoing through its interior. The young woman was listening, with her eyes closed, as she felt the power of the elves.
"Such great power," Katherine thought as Natil played her harp for a half-hour, helping and healing Mimi with Rijiin. She watched in amazement as the healing energy flowed over her friend, becoming a low swirling white energy.
"Healing, comfort and aid, that's what it's all about, and I can help them if I so choose." Rijiin murmured, suddenly feeling differently and now fully understanding his purpose as an elf.
He realized that as an immortal he had potentially great abilities and power to change anything he wanted. The elf had that ability and free choice if he wanted to help the world, giving back a little hope to make it a better place. The question that he asked was what time would he help change and make better… Would it be the past or the future? Rijiin also found himself one with his new existence as an elf, the scrap of soul he had as a human, finally leaving him and his transformation now complete into becoming fully Elven. The elf also realized that he no longer belonged here in the twentieth century and only belonged in the fourteenth century. Time seemed to shift around him as the Elven couple sat in the Fireside Lounge and he helped his friend to give her a better chance at life. The Elf turned his head to peer at the Harper who sat across from him and he smiled at her. He had also found love too, the purest, truest love. He would be with her forever, living out his days with his promised mate, which suited him just fine too.
When Natil sensed his thoughts, the Harper looked up with a smile, her hands continuing to dance skillfully across the bronze strings as she played the melody on her harp to its climax. The energy, she sensed around them, swirled and having already became a bright incandescent light. The aura shifted and swirled in many patterns and in an array of color. It had enveloped Rijiin and Mimi completely until Natil let her hands drop from the harp strings and he removed his hands from her shoulders. The only sound within the room now was the murmur of astonishment by everyone who had seen the elves help and heal today. There was scattered applause that followed, at first, echoing through the room as it became louder as more people joined in their appreciation of her music. The loudest had been Katherine and she managed to whistle as she applauded.
"Beautiful…" Katherine murmured, "Absolutely beautiful."
Sitting across from Natil, Katherine saw the Harper smile when she heard the applause. The young Elven woman nodded to the group and to the other people present, who showed their appreciation of her music. Natil cast a look at Rijiin and gasped as her friend, kinfolk and new lover lay sprawled out on the floor. He had succeeded in his task to help and heal his friend. He had unthinkably changed the patterns making up the woman known as Mimi Stewart and when she saw him sprawled out, she feared the worst. The Harper feared that Rijiin may have given himself too much and possibly sacrificed his life for Mimi's. A statement that he had openly said he would do, if necessary, to protect his best friend. Natil immediately hoped she was wrong with her assessment of the situation. She rose and moved to his side, then knelt beside him.
"What's the matter with him?" Robert asked, and the group turned to stare in fear at Rijiin, who was slumped on the floor. They glanced over at Mimi who was slumped forward too across the table, both having been totally enveloped in the swirling mass of energy for several minutes.
"Rijiin," Natil whispered, as she reached over to shake him with no response.
"Oh dear Lady," She murmured, "RIJIIN!"
Tears formed in the Harper's eyes as she lightly shook him several times, again with no response. It was several minutes before he groaned and stirred.
"Aye Natili… Please be at peace, I am all right." Rijiin told her, pushing himself up as he sat on the floor. His mate immediately heard the change in his voice, thick with the strong inflection and heavily accented like her kinfolk. Everyone around them fearfully looked at Rijiin, Natil and Mimi several times in silent disbelief, sensing that something strange had happened between the three of them.
"Jesus, what was that?" Chris asked as a murmur rounded the table.
Natil still peered at Rijiin, surprise still on her face, when she heard the strong inflection in his voice. The energy that bound the elves had changed him fully, the semi-recognizable face from earlier had gone away, and had left someone completely different. It had surprised the group and strangely, his lover too.
"Oh my Lady," Natil murmured, "What has he done? Did he do what I just think he did?"
The Harper's face softened in understanding.
Katherine stared at Mimi who at this moment sat slumped face down on the table, still half-stunned and disoriented because of the massive healing she had undergone. As she lay there, her first sensation was a tingling throughout her body. The maiden opened her now aquamarine blue eyes and they focused on the table.
Around her, the first person to notice Mimi's drastic changes had been Katherine, starting with the long hair that spilled down her to her shoulders and down her back. The young woman realized that something had happened because Mouse no longer looked like she had after arriving this morning at DeAnza.
“What the hell is going on?” She asked herself, puzzled by the hair, no longer gray, but a deep auburn brown, wavy and thick. Mouse remained where she was, her head down on the table in her arms. The young woman grimaced at her friend as she put put her hand and placed it on the now muscular shoulder of Mimi.
Mimi and Rijiin, in the period of many minutes they were enveloped by the incandescent energy, they both stood on the grassy meadow with the Lady, the Creatrix of the Elves. As Mouse stood here, the moon glared down as if in judgment. She knew what was about to happen and returned the glance by Rijiin then turned to stare into the Lady's gray, solemn eyes.
"I'm not afraid." She whispered, "Please."
The Lady stepped up to stand beside Mimi, her blue and silver trimmed robe shimmering in the darkness. In her hand, she held a staff of pale wood. She had her eyes closed as Mouse heard her whisper something in her own language and another aura shifted around her. As she stood with Rijiin and the Lady, Mimi caught a brief glimpse of a teenage girl clad in green and gray garb who stood behind her. She was excessively young and had the familiar crescent moon and star pendant that hung around her neck. The Lady finished the prayer and looked down at Mouse who knelt before her. The elves' Creatrix nodded gravely and rested a hand on her forehead. Relaxation flooded into her body, as though every nerve and muscle fiber had been oiled, warmed, and massaged into limpness. Mimi sighed softly and almost drifted into sleep, but the woman's soft voice brought her back.
"Blessings be upon you and within you, now and always."
She sighed, bowing her head for a moment then gestured toward the moon. It hung at the zenith, full and round, though she did not recall that it had been in that phase when she appeared on the meadow the first time with the Creatrix.
"This is the Night of Completion. Mimi." The Creatrix of the elves told her. "Watch the moon. Relax and let her light fill you. Let it protect you. Let it empower you."
The Lady smiled at Rijiin who stood nearby, nodding to him in silence. He had his eyes closed, using his abilities from his transformation to help with her change.
Mimi shifted her gaze to the shining disk, breathing regularly, and felt as though she were glowing. The Lady stepped out of her vision, but the quality of light changed and the middle-aged woman realized the staff was brightening as she held it over her head. She kept her eyes on the moon as a tight feeling gripped her. She found she could not have moved if she wanted to and could not even blink. Eyes locked on the moon, Mouse felt herself drawn toward it. It grew larger, filling the sky and her vision, the white light blazing through her, harrowing her soul and mind with a seething glory.
She wanted to close her eyes, to look away, but she might have been stone for all the movement she was capable of at this moment.
"I trust her. I trust the Lady. But I am scared…"
She heard the sea, the sound growling, as the light, its waves, rose up around her. They invisibly swirled around her until they overlapped the meadow and flooded her, turning the moon into a featureless sky of white mist.
Mimi almost lost consciousness, but the thought of being unaware terrified her into full cognizance. She realized she was looking into the mist-shrouded face of a teenage girl with blue eyes, the color of aquamarines and long dark brown hair. The form of the teenager smiled at Mimi and reached toward her with a strong hand.
"I am not afraid." Mimi said, extending a hand and in her mind, a voice answered her:
"Good." It told her.
Mouse realized it is the voice of the woman robed in blue am silver.
A moment later, when their hands met and gripped, the strange teenage girl smiled again and her lips silently formed the syllables of Mimi's name just before her fingers tightened for an instant. Mouse felt herself swept forward as she merged with her. A jolt racked Mimi's body as though she had been struck, and the white mist fled from her sight. The stars appeared, shining, glorious, their brilliance as razor-keen as a warrior's sword. Transfixed by their light, she saw, unfolding like a flower before her, an infinite complex of futures in which all potentials and possibilities bound and connected by a vast web of starlight. It went on and on, each future merging with another and with yet another, a convoluted knot of maybes, and might-bes, and … and …one reality…
Mimi screamed, as her muscles spasm, and she rolled to her side, in a fetal position, fighting for sight, for thought. A river of starlight poured over her. Something widened within her, and the light-flooded in.
"Elthia… Rijiin…! Please help me!"
A hand came down to touch her on the head, and her spasms stopped abruptly.
"Be at peace… Mimi."
Mimi lay for sometime on the ground, waiting for her heart to calm. Behind her closed eyes, the stars shone, and the tenuous arm of a nebula shimmered in the distance. Her thoughts slowed gradually, and she forced herself to feel the grass beneath her, replaying the day's events to re-link her with the world.
Opening her eyes she could see the ghostly shape of her former self as she rolled away from her, and disappeared in a flash of bright light. The young girl was nowhere to be found and that puzzled Mimi. Only the Creatrix of the elves and Rijiin stood in the meadow with her at this very moment. She had frowned in confused wonder as her mirrored self had disappeared.
“Have I been hallucinating? Who was that young girl?” Mimi asked herself, her mind racing with questions.
Mouse, however, had been surrounded in the purest starlight energy. She had found a semblance of peace, despite her many questions that echoed through her mind. The Lady helped her to her feet, and together they stood on the threshold, chatting with each other. The now youthful elf maiden turned her head, to smile at Rijiin. She watched as he stepped up and knelt before the Lady, who put a loving arm on his broad shoulder. The Lady nodded as he looked up into her gray eyes. Standing, Rijiin smiled, before he nodding to Mouse and stepped into the shadows.
A moment later, the meadow faded around her too and Mimi slowly opened her eyes, quickly realizing she was slumped on the table in the Fireside Dining Room of DeAnza College. She had been enveloped in the energy, an almost blinding light, as she was transformed before everyone's eyes. She had opened her eyes, her vision quickly clearing as she focused on a hand, her hand that sat a few inches from her face, as it lay flat on the table. Gingerly, she flexed it, turned it, touched the tabletop, and watched the fingers move according to her own will.
However, she did not recognize the hand at all.
It was still obviously the hand of a woman, but that was all she could find in common with it. Medium and strong, it looked very capable of wielding a sword. The fingers were long and tapered. In the moonlight, they had looked like they were carved out of ivory.
“What is going on?” She thought and managed a frown when finding herself unable to move for some reason. It took her several minutes to attempt to do so. She still peered at the hand on the table, staring at it in confused wonder.
“Mouse, are you alright?” The voice had been an unfamiliar one, and Mimi groaned as she pushed herself backward with the help of a firm arm of Rijiin. A startled gasp followed, especially by her friends and many others who had gathered around the couple and the group at the table. The loudest gasps had been from Becky and Katherine both who were closest to her, and they just stared in silence at the now shockingly young and beautiful young woman who sat in Mimi's chair.
“Uh... M-Mimi?” Katherine stammered, shaking her head as she peered at the dark auburn hair, the now strange and youthful face that looked nothing like her friend just an hour and a half ago. It was young, beautiful and fair, with aquamarine colored eyes. The young woman put a hand to her mouth, totally blown away by the stranger's face Around them, there were a low murmur by the people who had been nearby watching the strange couple who graced their presence on this cold rainy morning.
No one moved in the room as they peered at Rijiin who knelt next to Mimi.
Mouse turned to scan the room at the surprised faces, turning her head at Katherine who had said her name. The now youthful maiden's aquamarine colored eyes darted to the pleased expression of Rijiin. The newly changed elf, Mimi, noted he seemed different from before and his face no longer what it was when he had first arrived at the dining room, even as he stood on the meadow with her.
"What did he do to me? I really feel so strange." She thought, turning to meet the still astonished looks by everyone present around her. Her gaze turned back to Rijiin, who still was smiling and he silently nodded to her.
Mouse had no idea that she had been changed so drastically by his use of elfin magic as she had been surrounded by the swirling energy. Her mind was a whirl of images, the meadow and the young girl that had touched her and a blast of energy rushing into her very soul before disappearing. She had been on the meadow with Rijiin, standing before that very beautiful woman in the robe, and they had manipulated energies around her, to help her. She found she didn't understand and could not account for herself for the last hour and a half. Her watch having stopped for that long during the time she had been inside the swirling energy by Rijiin.
"Huh? What's wrong?" She asked, "Why is everyone looking at me?"
The maiden abruptly fell silent when hearing her own voice, it had changed to a smooth contralto instead of a rough soprano and it was accented ever so slightly. She was amazed by it. Katherine and the others at the table met the youthful face with astonishment and question.
Mimi looked down at herself and the others watched in amusement as she lifting her shirt to peer at her waist and her curved figure. Pulling at the neck of her shirt, she peered down at her now B cup breasts. Feeling a weight on her head, the now young woman took a handful of her now long, dark, hair in her hands. Gasping in realization, Mouse turned her head at the strange face of Rijiin and over to Natil who sat across from him. The elf managed a slight nod in response to her questioning expression. As if almost to say, 'yes it true and it happened.'
"Holy… Shit! What the fuck is going on here?"
“What have you done to me?”
“You look different Mimi.” Becky said, “I don't understand...”
Mouse placed her hands on her face, as-if to examine it and had a questioning look on her face. The now young woman turned her head, regarding the unfamiliar face of Rijiin who was smiling.
"W-what have you done to me?" She stammered, as her head swam with overpowering sensations and she was giddy with disorientation. She tried to pull back, but looked down only to realize that he had taken her hands. Rijiin had sensed the panic in her voice and he touched her head silently.
“Peace.” The elf said simply, and the feelings of panic and confusion subsided.
The group and everyone around her showed astonishment by the simple command. Mimi let out a calming breath. Rijiin cast a long gaze as he met the confused expressions around them, almost fear, as they peered at him.
"W-what you have you done to me?" She demanded again and Rijiin gravely met the clear, bright and piercing aquamarine colored eyes in silence. "W-why have you done this to me?"
The elf silently met the look of anger on her face, and he casually dismissed it. A low murmur rounded the table.
"Peace, I healed you Mouse." He told her, his voice thick with the inflection and accent, "Call it a gift if you like, but I settled our long outstanding debt with help and healing. It is today that I give you back a new chance at life."
Mimi raised an eyebrow at Rijiin's explanation, closing her eyes only briefly before gasping loudly when she stared uncomprehending at the twinkle of starlight that filled in the darkness and perhaps her very soul. It is the very same light Mouse saw when she stood with Rijiin and the strange robed lady on a meadow under a star-filled sky. She had thought that had been a hallucination but it was apparent that it was not. The sight of the stars seemed to calm her disorientation and Mouse did not understand their meaning quite yet, so she kept it to herself.
"There is something strange about the starlight, a meaning behind it perhaps." Mimi thought, opening her eyes curiously meeting Rijiin's smile with a tilt of her head.
"Be at peace Mimitti, there will be no harm to you, only truth, as you and I always kept that between us. Remember that I never will candy-coated an answer to your questions." Rijiin replied with a warm thin smile, "I am here to help you and answer any questions you have and I know you have many.”
“You damn well bet I do.” Mimi replied hotly, “I don't understand. What are you and who are you.”
“As I said I am a friend. Be at peace.” Rijiin replied, “And a maker of death for those who are here to challenge and mob against my wife and I. Be wary.”
A number of the students who had been standing around, including security had backed off when they picked up the point he had clearly made, perhaps a warning.
“Behold, friend Mimi.” He exclaimed, as he let his awareness flow out and over her.
Mouse suddenly knew the truth of the matter, as images of his journey began to form in her mind. She gasped loudly, peering dumbfounded at the elf, her mouth dropping open in complete surprise as she watched the images. She learned what happened before his transformation into an elf and explain a few things to her after his jumping through time and space before coming from far away to help her. The images were like a high-speed movie as they flashed images in Mouse's brain at double speed. She now had full knowledge, as Rijiin promised her, knowledge of his journey but they were also a whirlwind in her brain. She tried to make sense of them, but she was unable to put them in order like a giant jigsaw puzzle with matching pieces. Mimi turned her head to meet the smiling face of Rijiin who sat next to her.
Mimi gasped and she peered at him. "But he, you are dead! How can you be him, it is not possible!"
"Mouse, I am who I say I am." The elf whispered, “You can tell them if you wish. although they might not believe it."
“But...” Mimi started to reply and met the elf's neutral expression and a raised eyebrow.
"I can't Rijiin, it's just not possible." She whispered, falling silent for a moment as tears formed in her eyes, "Your body was dismembered beyond recognition. Please do not make me live through that nightmare again. I finally got over it."
“Steady mistress, you won't ever lose me like that again.” Rijiin whispered, “Amin ilyamenea yassen lle, vee lle nae mellonamin, Mimitti.”
Mimi gasped, when he spoke their language to her, and strangely she understood it. He had told he was with her always and her friend. She his expression and his slight nod before she finally warmly embraced him. Tears were in her eyes as she held him warmly.
“Amin ikotane saesea elea lle.” Mimi whispered, as she held him then gasped as she drew back, astonished she had spoken Elvish.
There was a loud gasp by everyone present around her. Her friends had stared openly at her and stunned when she spoke Elvish to Rijiin and Natil.
“Who the hell are you Rijiin?” A voice asked and he met the fuzzy features of Robert who had stood up beside Mimi.
"I am not doing anything to harm her, Ungai." The elf replied sternly, "Dina…"
Rijiin drew back and turned his attention back to Mimi. Her eyebrows had climbed in absolute astonishment, and she had gasped loudly. A large grin was on her face and it was followed by her laughter. She had heard Rijiin call Robert by the nickname he had given him a long time ago and it confirmed his claim of his identity. Katherine, across the table had briefly yelped with laughter and there was a chuckle among the group. The elf briefly turned his head to meet Becky's puzzled frown as she sat next to Mimi, having heard his use of his nickname. He nodded to her, making her gasp also in pure astonishment. His blatant use of the nickname has shown his identity of who he was and there was a low murmur among the group.
Robert had grimaced when he heard the nickname and frowned uncertainly at the stranger who stood beside him.
“Nathaniel?” Becky gasped, glancing at the astonished faces and all gasped when they saw him nod slightly. He stood up and stepped back as they all peered at him.
"It is true mistress. I was he, but no longer." The elf reassured her with a nod, reading her conflicting thoughts (as the elves could), "As you already know. You must accept what is, my death was probably unnecessary, but I walk a new path and I am safe in a different place. You need not worry."
"But, how is this possible." Mouse whispered, confused by the images she had seen. She need not ask him where Rijiin had been, already knowing the answer to that question and was just astonished, if not glad to see him. She embraced him warmly, tears filling her eyes.
“Amin nae ikotane valin- elea lle, Eruantiem!” Mimi exclaimed, and gasped falling silent again when she realized she was speaking another language. Everyone had turned to peer at her, in surprise, when she had spoken Elvish to him again. Even she had gasped loudly, putting a hand to her mouth.
“M-Mouse?” Katherine asked, totally stunned by her exclamation.
“Mea Culpa.” Mimi said, “I-I guess I have a new talent to get used to... It appears I can speak another language.”
“Be at peace Mimi, that name has no meaning for me, not now.” Rijiin told her, “That person is long dead, and must remain so.”
Mimi gasped again and put her hand on his.
“T-Then its true.” Mimi whispered, “Oh my god...”
“It is no consequence Mimi.” Rijiin said, “Be at peace, I have found my ending and beginning, just as you have. I cannot return to what I once was and neither have no desire to. I have found my place in the world, just as you have.”
Rijiin met the faces of the others and he motioned to his beloved Harper.
"That is enough!" Robert exclaimed, with an almost shout, "Who the fuck are you? What are fuck are you? What did you do with Mimi and who is that in her chair? You cannot be him! It's not possi..."
“Alas it is Ungai.” Rijiin interrupted him and he fell silent. “And I am here before you as who I am. Nothing more or less, just another path I walk than before.”
The elf could hear the snap of disbelief and confusion in his voice. He remained silent, sensing his anger and hostility there.
"It is Mimi… We healed her and gave her a new chance at life, Ungai…" Rijiin replied coldly to Robert's outburst, "Be at peace, she is unharmed, as you can rightly see. She just has been changed and her existence altered through time itself."
"What I see is a lot of bullshit." Robert growled, eyeing John with a nasty look, "And you better not be behind it with him, you asshole."
"They're elves Robert!" Katherine exclaimed, blurting it out as she attempted to touch Mouse's shoulder but abruptly had pulled back her hand unsure if she could touch her. The young woman, like the others present at the table also around them, turned their heads to meet Rijiin's neutral expression, seeing him slowly nod to her.
Robert shook his head, with a sarcastic expression on his face and a look of anger in his eyes as he lunged toward Rijiin, intending to get in his face and yell. He stopped however when elf stepped back two steps, his hand flashing to the well-used blade at his side, resting a hand on it, ready to draw.
Across the table, something had Katherine and John to get to their feet and assist. They both sensed that there was going to be violence here and neither of them knew why. They had suddenly rose from their seats and both had taken an aggressive step toward Robert. They paused when the elf relaxed his hand on the handle of the blade at his side and and motioned to them silently.
"See're, Katherine, everyone." The elf said solemnly. He met their confused expressions with a nod.
"There will be no battle here, he cannot harm me." The elf replied, “I thank you for your assistance, however. But if he tries, he will fall as will so many others.”
"Don't give me that double talk." Robert shouted, "Who are you people and don't give us that bullshit about being elves, or able to help and heal. Only God himself can do that."
Although Robert, even with his limited mind could not say he was wrong what he saw Rijiin and Natil accomplished this morning. He had seen it done with his own eyes but even he was still skeptical, like many people around them. There was only three present, who could say what they saw was real, and the couple before them was genuine.
"Aye, as you wish for you ro feel like that Robert, but truth is truth." Rijiin quietly replied pausing shortly to sigh and his words seem to hang there for a moment. “But as your God was granted this power, so were the Elves of distant past, created as helpers to assist your ancestors in times of need.”
Everyone around them heard Rijiin's reply and so did the others around the table. All of them had a questioning expression on their faces and did not understand his reply to Robert's outburst. The elf and his beloved Harper obviously wielded a power that not everyone in the dining room understood and a power that had not been in existence in probably four hundred years. However, the couple had cured Mimi's Cerebral Palsy, the very affliction she had been born with, and had confined her to a wheelchair for over four decades. They had healed her of other health issues, and had done it willingly, effortlessly as-if it was second nature to wield such a power.
"But that is impossible!" Katherine said, rubbing her eyes as she peered at Mouse and then back to Rijiin who stood up now, having been bent over beside her, his hands on the table. Her head turned to the young Harper and Katherine wondered where she had come from, and how Rijiin got involved with her.
"Rijiin please tell me… Please explain to me… I don't understand all of this…" Mouse sputtered, trying to find words for her question and Rijiin met her confused expression with a slight nod. Taking her hands, the elf, with a small tug pulled at Mimi's hands. A low murmur echoed the table and the room.
"Stand and be recognized Mistress Stewart." The elf said with a commanding tone, “Walk with me...”
"Bullshit." Robert snapped, "She can't walk Rijiin, her legs do not work normally, not with Cerebral Palsy."
"No bullshit, Robert." Katherine murmured, "I think he means it."
"I am aware of her afflictions she once had, Ungai, but no longer." Rijiin replied sharply, cutting him off, "Dina… damn it, watch and understand… if that is even possible for you."
“What do you...” Robert started to complain, but stopped speaking when Rijiin put out his hands to help Mouse to her feet. The young woman gasped as she took a dubious step forward, a normal step and gasped as her muscular legs obeyed her. The elf, flashing a grin at the table and his beloved Harper, also smiling walked with her toward the doorway. Everyone was dead silent, totally stunned by the sight before them, seeing Mimi walk for the first time, in a very long time, without assistance.
"Holy fuck!” Mouse gasped, “I'm walking!”
The young woman stumbled sightly, but Rijiin stepped quickly in to catch her. She peered at the elf, her friend who had nodded slowly to her, responding to the questioning look she was giving him.
The young, now teenager, gasped as she peered at Rijiin in total blown away silence. Around her, a murmur of conversation rippled through the room like wildfire, especially from the table where she had been sitting all morning. The few people who had been around them had watched in startled silence and were unsure what was happening, neither did they rior or lunge toward Rijiin or Natil. They just looked on in silence at Mimi who stood with Rijiin.
Mouse panned a gaze around the Fireside Lounge, unnerved how small and open the room actually was, while standing. Her gaze found a glass picture frame nearby and the gasped when she saw her astonished expression in the glass reflection. She peered at the youthful face, and grimaced as she put her hands on her face trying to understand what and who she saw seeing there.
"I…" Mouse stammered, whirling on Rijiin with her hands still touching her face in wonder. "I want you to undo this…"
He calmly met her frightened expression, and felt her anger.
"Be at peace, Mouse." Rijiin said simply, "I know you are afraid and I really understand. It will take time to adjust to your new form and you now have several lifetimes to do just that. The magic is still in flux, there will be some abrupt changes you will see immediately, but know this there are also a few gradual ones that will happen over time."
Mouse was shaking her head slightly.
"This cannot be!" She exclaimed, "It is impossible! I told you that I wanted to be as I am. I was happy with myself and my life."
Mouse's voice faltered, falling silent when hearing her new voice again and it made Mimi feel so strange hearing it. It seemed silly, her own statement of her wishes, but she had been happy with herself and had not expected to have this happen to her. Not even the journey briefly to the past and standing on the grassy meadow with a stranger robed in blue and silver.
"WHY did you do this?" Mimi whispered, "I cannot accept this… It's not…"
Mouse fell silent by the expression on Rijiin's face, an almost sad look.
"It is not human? It is not, it is Elven. I did it because I am your friend, and I care for you." Rijiin interrupted, "I did it because you, Mistress Stewart deserve the same kindness as you showed me when I arrived here at DeAnza. You and Robert offered your friendship without question or expectations. I always remembered and appreciated that. If not can say I love you dearly, as my best friend in this world."
The elf met Mouse's surprised expression, and they stood staring silently into each other's eyes for a moment before the teenage looking Mouse nodded slightly in sudden understanding. Mimi had confirmed her suspicion by the statement he made. Rijiin really was her friend and it was true what she had seen a few moments ago when he let his awareness touch her mind. The events she had seen were real and he was alive and well despite the major changes that he obviously had gone through. Mimi met his solemn gray eyes in silence but she also found herself shaking her head at the thoughts that she was having.
Mimi suddenly glanced down at her hand, turning it over to reveal the crescent moon and interlocked, ray star pendant and gold chain she still held in her hand. It twinkled brightly in the fluorescent light. It was a reminder of what she had seen with her own eyes and where she had stood in person with the very essence of the Elves and their Creatrix. Mimi found peace and transformation by the strange powers they wielded, by their Lady and could not deny that it happened on that very morning that she had literally traversed time and space. She gasped again loudly as she peered at Rijiin. Here, the elf had motioned to Mimi.
"Walk with me, my kinswoman." He instructed.
Both the elf and Mimi walked alone, far out of range of the table. Together they talked in low tones to each other and he did so in Elvish. No one at the table ever heard Rijiin and Mimi's conversation or understood, even heard what they had talked about between them. No one needed to know but was one conversation Mimi would never forget.
She hugged the elf after a moment, to grin as he fastened the necklace bearing the pendant of the crescent moon and interlocked star that hung from the gold chain around her neck, after gently removing the other necklace belonging to Robert. Together they returned to the table and Mimi, healed, sat lounging in her wheelchair, still holding Robert's necklace in her hand. The young woman sensed his anger directed toward her as she placed the half pendant and chain on the tabletop in silence.
"Here is Mimi, I return her to you." Rijiin told the group. He spoke quietly, and his voice was thickly filled with the strange accent and inflection of the elves. "Human ways are not our ways and we must be going. We must return to where we belong."
"Speaking of that, where is that Rijiin?" Katherine exclaimed, "What do you mean human ways are not yours?"
“And does Natil have a sister, shes hot!” Chris bantered, and there was brief laughter. Rijiin shot a look at the Harper, who remained composed despite the raunchy comments that followed by the guys.
Katherine and Katherine were really curious about the couple and many times both glanced at John who looked on, being unusually quiet as he watched the couple.
"You know, Rijiin, you seem familiar to me too.” Katherine asked, but the elf did not reply, merely grimacing as he stepped back one-step from the table.
"Rijiin, do I really look like the reflection I saw in the glass of that picture frame?" Mimi asked suddenly and he turned to regard the beautiful young woman before him. He met her aquamarine colored eyes in silence with a single nod of his head.
“Mistress Stewart, you are not ill-formed by any means, and quite beautiful." He said solemnly, "Yes, you will look exactly as you have seen, perhaps even more so. The energy that you were subjected to is still in flux and there will be a lot more changes over time."
"Yeah that's an understatement." Dave murmured meeting the nods of Chris and Omar who had heard him, their banter subsiding temporarily as the elf spoke. Their attention returned to Rijiin who stood nearby and all noted more of a change about the elf. Mimi's hand touched her cheek in curiosity and remembered there was a mirror in the Physical Education (PE) Quad in the locker room, making a mental note to go over there to look.
"...There are going to be a lot of changes in the next few hours, perhaps even days. Our power is unpredictable and can choose many different paths. It is hard to say exactly what path the power of transformation will take or what changes will happen. Only time will tell what you gain." The elf explained, "You have though, reached Arae ea oombra, which means the Day of Completion and for you, that day is today.”
The elf paused as he glanced at the other people in the room, then to the table to nod affirmatively.
“Furthermore for you, it is also Arae ea circa, which means Day of Beginnings, which for you, beloved Mimi begins for you today too.”
"Is it because of my healing Rijiin?" Mimi asked. Katherine and the others present saw Rijiin nod affirmatively. The elfish words made everyone peer at Rijiin in curiosity then glance at Natil who was smiling. She nodded her head at him in silence. The group present at the table had felt a jump inside themselves, like an electrical charge, passing through their bodies when hearing the elfish words. John had understood the terms and gasped quietly.
"Are those holidays or something?" Chris asked formally, "I have never heard of that before. Those names sound important or something."
"They are events in a lifeline, like the winter and summer solstice." John replied, "The elves use those terms to mark changes in a lifeline by their manipulation of energy. Kind of like what you saw with Mimi.
"It's not a Wicca thing is it?" Omar asked, suddenly aware that John practiced that ancient religion, but the young man shook his head.
“No, but warlocks and witches do celebrate the solstices, and would be guided by the same markers when they manipulate energy like the elves." John replied, "Although for Wicca, we work in circles where elves do not. It is…"
"It's bullshit..." Robert interrupted, "You are so full of shit John, and you too, Rijiin. All that has happened to us, Rijiin has hypnotized us somehow and you used some of your Wicca bullshit. That is not Mimi. It is someone paid to impersonate her. This so-called change cannot have happened, there is no such thing as elves or magic, it is all fantasy. You and your gay lover John are trying to pull a fast one on us, so spare us the horseshit and tell us where Mimi is really."
John grimaced at the insult and was about to reply in anger but his gaze fell upon Rijiin who calmly grimaced at the banter between them, sensing the dislike between the two. The elf raised his hand silently and shook his head.
"Be at peace, he is not worth it. You spoke the truth." Rijiin murmured quietly, "As it is, truth is truth and for some they just can't handle it."
John tilted his head for a moment, in half understanding before returning a nod.
Rijiin understood what John was talking about and he was respectful of the young man's craft. He had dealt with witches like Roxanne, and Charity back in the fourteenth century. The elf had learned a thing or two from them. He learned to respect the craft (witchcraft), other people's feelings, the laws of nature, and perhaps some humanity that the elf had long forgotten over the course of over a year.
The elf, still grimacing, turned his attention to Robert who continued to spew more disruptive comments. The elf hardly heard them as he turned. He coldly met Robert's bearded features and his hazel-colored eyes in silence. When he finally spoke, it was like a double-edged sword.
"By our Lady, that is enough out of you. Dina, Ungai. Lle vanwa kolien usquentiri huan…" The elf snarled coldly.
The others in the group, seated around the table, gasped when they felt the chill of the cold Elfish words spoken by Rijiin, "You otherwise will have trouble in your future if you do not. Do not think I will not act upon it, as it is a promise, not a threat. I have seen many things and battles in my travels. I have been the life taker of many, slain in their own cold blood, and seen death aplenty... But I have also given second chances to many and lives back to those who potentially have lost them. Be careful the path you now traverse.... Ungai...”
Katherine saw the anger on Robert's face, after realizing the elf had told him to shut up, He frowned as he slowly rose up from his chair.
"…Oh and boo hoo you will call security." The elf added sarcastically, "I honestly do not think you will have the chance Robert. I can take you out in a heartbeat. So remember that before you take the swing."
Robert's eyes had widened in surprise when Rijiin interrupted him again and his train of thought. He had responded to what he was the disabled man was about to say back to elf in the form of an angry threat and what he planned in his head. The elf had been reading his mind, and looked ahead to see him become violent, throwing the first punch in a fight between himself and Rijiin. However, his body language clearly gave away his intentions the most.
"Know this too Ungai, elves are creatures of peace and should not be provoked. We do make formidable opponents, however. I suggest, for your own good, you sit there, be quiet, and listen. You might learn a few things. However, there will be no battle here today."
The elf had turned to Mimi, talking quietly to her and had sensed the incoming fist toward his head. Rijiin, with little effort had dodged, letting the strike expend into open air. The elf quickly blocked two more swings at his head but not a third strike. He lanced out and struck Robert with an open hand, slapping him, making him back up a couple of steps.
Mouse turned her head to see the expression of anger on Rijiin's face, and the bright twinkle of starlight in his eyes. Mimi had her mouth open, clearly surprised and shocked that her boyfriend had took the swing at him. The elf quickly connected to the starlight, and the motions of the dance the elves used for fighting. He saw feints, openings, and many possibilities that lay ahead of him. Robert moved in with another fist. The elf also could see that there was one possibility of swordplay that would take a turn for the worst, when Rijiin would have to slay him. He shuddered at the thought, wishing this could be settled in peace.
Again Rijiin dodged, letting the punches expend into the open air, or blocking using Aikido from a long time ago. He tried desperately to not harm Robert, easily able to injure if he so chose but he refrained with strong tolerance, despite Robert had thrown the first punch in front of twenty witnesses. Two students left the room and he sensed they were going to alert security, and the manager of this building. This whole incident would be an ugly mess if that happened
Robert bent backward to wind up intending, after grabbing one of his crutches, to use it as a club. The elf stepped back, letting the crutch whistle past his face a few inches from it. He ducked when the second crutch came in toward him, letting it pass his body. The elf's hand flashed to the blade at his side, unsecuring it and allowing it to be drawn. Rijiin realized that the sword play he saw would start here, and managed a frown what he her saw that would follow. He glanced at Natil who had a look of sadness on her face when her mate had unsecured his blade, knowing fully that he did not want to fight in this manner and have the possibility of hurting Robert. He saw the look she gave him and the slight head shake. Natil sensed that her mate wanted to solve this a peaceful manner but because Robert took a swing at him, he would have no choice but to use force. The elf continued to dodge each crutches as they were swung at him. A look of frustration appeared on Robert's face when he realized they were not getting close to Rijiin.
The elf, sighing as he felt the futility of it all, drew the blade from its sheath with a metallic rasp, and there was a gasp by all. Sparks appeared as the elf's blade and the metal crutches connected, the elf easily parrying the attack. Rijiin stepped back again and he ducked into a crouch, letting one swing expend its energy over his head. Abruptly the elf brought his blade up and he cut a chunk of Robert's beard down to the skin. Blood trickled from the disabled man's chin after hearing a whistle of the blade pass him by. He felt the pain of the nick of his skin.
"First blood, do not bother to yield." Rijiin exclaimed coldly, turning after following through and stood his ground. Robert stepped back, placing a hand up to his chin, and he looked down in with a grimace when he realized that Rijiin had cut him. He silently wiped the blood from his skin. Overwhelming rage had taken Robert, an almost berserk one at that.
"Rijiin, please no more, that is not why we are here." Natil warned, as the elf stepped back, readying himself for another onslaught. Robert snarled as he thrust his crutch like a sword and Rijiin moved to parry easily. Without warning, the elf stepped forty-five degrees to the right and with his left hand struck him with an open palm in the sternum. The hit made Robert back up two steps and here Rijiin followed through to spin away from the disabled man, coming up, his blade finding its home on the back of the disabled man's neck, making him freeze, as in the blink of an eye the elf put it to his jugular vein. He did not move, feeling the sharpness of the blade and knew if he did the elf would and could end his life quickly.
“By our lady, what is that you seek Robert?" Rijiin demanded, "Is this what you are after?"
The elf held the blade at his neck, and he grimaced at the sight before him. He realized what he was doing, and relaxed his grip on the blade at Robert's neck just so as he managed a low sigh.
"If I would have chosen, you would have been slain here. However, in my travels I have learned some compassion and understanding for humans, despite what I have seen." He told him solemnly, his tone ice cold, "Thankfully you never will understand, or know of our trials. This battle ends, however, I suggest you go get a drink and cool off Robert, also clean yourself up. You should maybe even have someone look at that. Leave peacefully or I will follow through next time."
Rijiin, holding his blade ready, had stepped back. Robert stepped back away from him too. The elf thought the battle had ended but a crutch moved toward the elf when Rijiin had turned away.
"Watch out beloved!" Natil exclaimed, and the elf ducked letting the strike expend in open air, a few inches from his head. He felt the second crutch hit his shoulder, feeling a sharp pain.
Rijiin's blade flashed, as the first crutch was already was coming in at him and he skillfully parried it. The elf backed off, raising his blade and waited for the right opening, realizing that he had no choice what he must do now. He had no choice but to slay him, terminating the potential of his lifeline and future. Rijiin focused on the starlight, desperately hoping for a glimmer of another opening that would not move toward this abrupt resolve.
Across the table, Natil sensed what he was doing and the opening he sought. She sensed that he was going to slay him where he stood and terminate his life. She let out a silent gasp and a prayer when she peered into the starlight and saw the opening he sought was here.
"Here we go." Rijiin muttered, "Just one step, one parry, he breaks the parry and a quick cross body strike across the neck that is virtually not able to be blocked."
Rijiin saw the opening and his blade flashed once to parry, locking the crutch behind the blade. Robert fought to break the hold as the elf was poised, ready to let loose, and his blade would execute the strongest move he had developed in his sword fighting techniques. A technique that he had sprung on Terrill and even with his skill could not parry or dodge. Robert broke the parry and Rijiin let loose. (He had taken from the movie Highlander) In the back of the elf's mind, he remembered that Robert had not been taught in the way of the sword that he was relying on street brawling using his crutches in an underhanded way. His blade flashed, seconds later.
"Oh by our Lady, Rijiin don't do it!" Natil shouted. The elf maiden suddenly realized he was about to execute the move and was about to take life unnecessarily. The elf heard Natil's shout, and pulled back at the last minute, realizing what was happening. The group had glanced in confusion at Natil when she shouted and everything seemed to be in slow motion. Rijiin let the blade whistle through the air to cut Robert's beard and he realized what he had almost done. The disabled man, having started the fight, staggered backward with a look of fear in his eye having felt the wind of the elf's blade, inches from the skin across his throat. The elf spun clear and he held his blade upright, knowing he had pulled back. However, if he had not, Robert's head would slowly be slipping from its shoulders onto the ground right now. The elf held his ground, holding his blade ready, straight up at his side and Mimi stood out of her chair, to step between Robert and Rijiin. The elf was not breathing hard but Robert was.
Rijiin glanced at the nearly empty room as people had bolted, scattering as the elf and Robert began to fight. He grimaced in pain, his shoulder aching where Robert had hit him with the crutch. He was glad that no one else was injured in his or her fight, even on accident.
"Enough." Mimi firmly declared, holding up her hands, "This is not going to solve anything if you idiots fight. Bobby, go get us a drink as Rijiin suggested and cool off. Go to the infirmary and get your chin looked at. Rijiin, you sit down and let Natil check your arm."
"Shut up you imposter." Robert snarled, “Don’t tell me what to do.”
He raised his crutch and the elf sensed he was recklessly going to hit her for no reason. Robert swung the crutch and the elf was in front of her in a flash, blocking the strike and gently moving back to push Mouse out of the way.
"If I were you, I wouldn't try that again, or I will take your life." Rijiin growled, continuing to push Mimi backwards, his blade poised ready, gleaming in the light. Robert snarled at the both of them.
"Jesus, that was close." Mouse gasped, "He really tried to hit me, thank you Rijiin."
Robert screamed as he charged and the elf bent backwards, back flipping. Rijiin's foot struck his opponent under his chin, knocking him to the floor. The elf landed on his feet, the group and a few people watching from outside had gasped openly. Natil had gasped the loudest, not expecting him to use his martial ability from this time in conjunction with the stars of their time.
Robert sat on his butt, dumbly looking at the elf as he landed on his feet like a cat.
"Jesus, that was amazing!" Chris gasped, "Holy shit did you see that? That was almost like Bruce Lee!"
Robert got to his feet as the elf sheathed his blade, and he stood in a fighting stance, connected fully to the stars, focused and ready. Many events flashed in the starlight, as images of the battles to come and might bes flashed in the wisps of ether. He motioned to Robert to come, as his eyes flashed brightly. Robert snarled and left the room and the elf straightened.
"Ram en' templa" The elf muttered, and at the doors an energy barrier now blocked all the entries entering this area.
"You might have trouble with security." Mimi warned, "He is probably going to get them if they are not on their way already."
"Are you alright though, Rijiin?"
"Just like him to be so immature." Rijiin growled, turning his attention to the group. "I am not unwell, Mimitti. Be at peace. Fear not they won't be able to enter here."
"What do you mean?"
The group turned and they saw security and even students walk toward the open door, and hit something to throw them backwards. They sat on their butts staring at the wall perplexed.
"It will dissipate when we leave here." Rijiin said, "Do not worry."
"So Rijiin I have a question, when you meant changes, you mean I will be changing into an immortal elf then?" Mimi asked, "So I am clear on this."
He managed a shrug in reply to the question.
"Perhaps, if that is the path you walk and seek, then you will become just that." He replied, motioning to Natil who had joined him at his side. The Harper embraced him, holding him closely and felt him flinch when she touched his shoulder. The elf returned the warm embrace anyway and leaned over toward her, kissing her on the lips.
Dave, Chris and even Omar were grinning at the couple. Mimi sat with her eyes closed, and she stared at the starlight before her in silent astonishment.
"Rijiin, what am I really seeing?" Mouse asked.
“What do you mean?” The elf asked, already knowing what she was asking about and why. He managed a grimace, despite it.
"I am seeing starlight." She murmured, and he nodded. "What exactly is that about?”
"It is the healing energies that bind the elves, and their power." He said, "They are the lady, who is us, who made the elves."
"Oh you mean the lady in blue and silver?" John had chimed in and Rijiin showed visible surprise at first, but he did not shake his negatively. He in fact had nodded them surprising them all.
"It is so John." The elf replied nodding quietly, but leaned over toward Natil,
"It is time beloved, our task is complete. We can return home and to the safety among the trees." The Harper met his smile with a look of surprise but she also nodded, thankfully in agreement.
"We must go now." Rijiin announced. Mimi, Omar, Katherine, Dave, Chris, even Katherine turned in surprise as he bowed slightly at the waist. "Perhaps we shall meet again, somewhere in time...”
"Whoa, you are leaving?" Katherine asked, "You still have not told us who you are. We have a lot of questions for you two."
Questions echoed around the table, and Rijiin met the grin of knowing on Mimi's youthful face.
"Yeah, that's an understatement Katherine." Omar commented. Chris and Dave nodded in agreement. They were perplexed today, by what they saw and wondered if they had imagined the whole thing that happened.
"I don't know how or what we saw today, but it certainly happened." Katherine declared, "The proof is sitting here with us and I can't deny Mimi's appearance or change as anything else."
"…And you would be right Mistress Savitski. Be at peace. Natil and I do not belong here. We must leave you all now and travel to the place where we have come." Rijiin declared with a nod, "We are as we are, but know this, what happened here has also affected all of you who sat with Mimi this morning."
He paused to scan the room in silence, shaking his head quietly. The elf felt uncomfortable here, realizing that he and his beloved Harper did not belong here. They did not belong in the modern age among humans as immortal elves from the Renaissance Age. He longed for the safety of the forests of Malvern in a different time, lifetime and different dance.
The Harper when she heard his whispered words had raised her eyebrows in surprise but she also nodded slowly. Natil's face showed her acknowledgment of whom and what she was seeing. There was no doubt now that he was fully Elven and no longer human. He half turned to open the pouch at his side and he withdrew cards from the shop in Eastridge. Rijiin passed them out to the people he had once called friends.
"Come to this place, there you will seek the answers to your questions." Rijiin told them and he nodded a couple of times, "It is here that you will find your way."
"Aa' menle nauva calen ar' ta hwesta e' ale'quenle." He said aloud and John grinned, nodding to the pair formally.
“And onto you, fair ones.” He replied and held his girlfriend warmly.
"What is this, a way to what, Rijiin?" Mouse asked, scanning the card, but when she looked up Rijiin and Natil had already gone.
Katherine’s reminisces faded when she felt a hand on her shoulder and she opened her eyes. On the horizon, the lights from the town called Salida, Utah was there and it is at this desolate oasis among the desert they would pull off for their second night out of California. As they pulled into the parking lot, Katherine glanced at Mimi in the darkness, clearly outlined in lavender and purple colors, and then back to the dim lights of the small humble motel that they had spied while entering the town.
“Where are we?” Katherine asked.
“Salida, Utah.” Mimi replied, stretching herself in the seat and managed a yawn. They had pushed over five hundred miles, managing to reach deep into Utah, crossing Nevada in record time. Both of them had risen at 6 AM, a day ago and already they had reached this far, driving straight through.
Grabbing her purse, Mimi hopped out of the truck, followed by Katherine and together they stretched before walking toward the office of the motel. The motel itself is rustic, with a chalet type office and adjacent buildings that make up the rooms. Around them a zoo, makes up the surroundings with a restaurant adjacent to it. Mouse and Katherine both smiled seeing the rustic setting midst this desert setting. The air was hot outside but as they opened, a plate glass door leading into the office, a cool breeze blasted them both in the face. An older man sat behind the desk at the computer, dressed in a tank top and comfortable khaki shorts
“Can I help you ladies?” He asked politely, meeting the gazes of Mimi and Katherine.
“We’d like a room for the night…” Mimi said, “Non smoking.”
“We have one available, for 36.99 a night.” He told them, and put up a form on the counter, “Please fill this out. I will get your key.” Mimi filled out the form quickly, and both signed it. She flipped him her credit card and he took it.
“Can I see your identification please?” He asked and Mimi smiled handing him her new driver’s license she recently acquired over the last two months. He nodded handing both back to her and she gladly took it. The office manager handed them both a key.
“Check out is at 11:00 AM, Restaurant is open all night.” He droned and both smiled, nodding their heads.
“With thanks.” Mimi replied, “Be at peace.”
Together Mouse and Katherine adjourned to the room, a rustic set room with oak furnishings, a dark red shag carpet, yellowish tinged walls, and not very well lit with the amount of lamps that surrounded the room. The bathroom consisted of a marble tabletop counter with a sink built into it, bright shiny fixtures, a door to the right led into a walk in shower and toilet. The bathroom, brightly lit by powerful fluorescent lighting offered a heat lamp. It was rustic, but home for a night.
“Not bad for 36.99 a night.” Katherine had muttered and they piled their luggage in a narrow alcove near the door. They hit the restaurant first, having a quick meal, entering the diner through a series of double glass doors and stood waiting at the sign that read ‘Wait to be seated.’
“Seat yourself anywhere!” A harried middle-aged server called out and Mimi grabbed two menus. The diner was as rustic as the hotel. A medium sized main room and two smaller rooms filled with a sea of tables. They sat on the far side of the diner close to the windows that overlooked the zoo, and after their orders were taken they relaxed.
“The way I see it, we fuel up here, we can easily reach Grand Junction.” Mimi said, “Or head north to Interstate-80 via highway-fifteen to Salt Lake and cross Wyoming and come down to Denver from the north. A few more miles out of the way but a safer bet than trying the continental divide in our U haul™ beast.”
“Whatever seems the easiest, Mouse.” Katherine replied, smiling at the inflection in her voice, that she gained over two months. “We still have to cross mountains even on Highway-80 through Evanston.”
“That’s true.” Mouse mused and she thought a moment, “Either way it’s going to be a climb. I am unsure which would be easiest.”
“I wouldn’t worry. Let’s do that when we get there.” Katherine suggested.
“What do you think we’ll find, Mouse?” Katherine asked suddenly, “We are coming to a high place to the east, at least from California.”
Mimi thought a moment, and shook her head.
“I really don’t know. It will be good to know what we are getting into and if there is someone there to meet us though.”
“Me too…” Katherine replied with a smile, “And I hope heir names are Natil and Rijiin.”
Mimi smiled at Katherine and nodded as they chatted, making small talk as they made plans for the next part of their trip. It was right up until their food came to them, piping hot, and they ate in silence. After they were finished, Katherine paid the bill then both stepped out into the night and gazed up at the sea of stars above them. A shooting star streaked across the night sky, making them smile and glance at each other. The star-field reminded her of another place and a grassy meadow where they stood with the Lady.
When they returned to the room, both showered and lay on the two queen beds on their side. Both lay listening to the TV, and yet both had their eyes closed, staring at the starlight they saw in the darkness. Katherine wondered where they were going from here, and where their destination lay. Opening her eyes, she glanced at Mouse, in the darkened room and saw she was clearly outlined in purple and lavender colors as she had seen in the truck. Blinking her eyes a couple of times Katherine gazed at Mouse again, seeing the strange aura.
“Now this is weird.” Katherine thought as she blinked her eyes again, then realizing that as an elf she could see in the dark. “It appears that we have another skill elves apparently have.”
Mouse opened her eyes and peered at Katherine, her eyes shining in the dim light.
“We can see in the dark.” Mouse informed her, grinning at her companion.
“Yeah I noticed.” Katherine replied, “How much more and how many more abilities are we going to gain?”
“I don’t know Katherine.” Mimi replied, “But thus far it has been an amazing discovery as we move forward.”
“That’s for sure. Mimi.” Katherine replied, grimacing at her friend. “Boy, you look tired, Mouse...”
Katherine had made the simple observation as Mimi yawned, before looking over at her companion to shake her head.
“Hardly that,” Mimi replied, “This is going to be tough. I thought Elves slept. I feel energized after eating and that shower. I feel really strange right now, too wired to sleep.”
“I don’t feel tired either. I know the feeling about being energized.” Katherine replied, “It must be these changes happening to us.”
“Maybe…” Mimi replied, “Let’s try to rest a bit anyway.”
They lay back, but in the darkness, but Katherine and Mouse were wide-awake, their eyes closed, keeping the vision of the starlight as the hours the night encroached into the wee hours of the morning. The next day, both dressed quickly, and together they put their bags in the truck. Together they stepped into the diner, was seated and ordered breakfast, Mimi and Katherine took an hour and ate a hearty breakfast. After settling the bill, they headed to the service station nearby where they filled the U haul™.
Katherine took first watch on driving duty, racing down Highway 50/70 at break neck speed as they set their sights on Denver instead of Cheyenne. They only had a few stops, at Montrose, Green River, and Grand Junction to fuel the truck, get food or to switch off the task of driving. Hours later, Mouse sat behind the wheel, as their truck crested the hill and in the dusk hours that her eyes, focused on the lights as they approached and saw Denver on the horizon. She turned her head and looked up at her traveling companion curiously. Mimi noted Katherine had closed her eyes and she had a strange aura around her.
“Katherine.” Mouse whispered, “We’re here.”
Katherine opened her eyes, turning her head as the lights of Denver grew closer and closer. A smile appeared on her youthful looking face. She cast a glance at Mouse who drove and who was smiling too. Both were glad to see Denver, hardly sleeping over the last two days, pushing far to the east and staring at wonder at their destination where they seemed to know that they were going to meet those people like themselves. They could hardly contain their excitement on that fact and looked forward to tomorrow, their first day in Denver.
“So we’re at Denver, as you asked, what do you think we are looking for, do you think this is it?” Mouse asked. Katherine turned her head to reply and only grimaced, to shrug her shoulders.
“I still have no idea Mouse.” Katherine replied, smiling quietly glad to see Denver on the horizon. She let out a silent breath as she cracked the window, letting the cool fresh air fill the cab.
“The goddess said they would be just like us, as if they are brothers and sisters.” Katherine recited, “Seek a high place in the East. Rijiin said it too.”
“Well we made it this far.” Mouse replied, “The part about seeking a high place in the east, at least. The Rockies are high and east of California.”
“True.” Katherine replied quietly, “I don’t know, but I have a pretty good feeling what we seek will be here Mouse. We’d better stop for the night at least, it is getting very late.”
They stopped at the nearest Motel when they reached the confines of the city of Denver and there they rented a room. Together they had a quick meal in a local diner not far from their accommodations and when they returned, Katherine lay on the queen bed near the far wall. She glanced sideways at companion, sighing quietly as she lay back. Both of them did not sleep. Elves rarely slept, and they both peered at the starlight as they lay with their eyes closed in their hotel room. They let the light sooth their senses and it seemed to energize them as before.
Unlike the first borne elves of Malvern, the starlight had faded over the remaining centuries, as did the elves themselves. Their magic, their ways had faded and Natil had been the last one, so she had thought, traveling throughout the realm, harping for those who enjoyed her music. Katherine and Mimi saw the starlight, and both transformed with the same magic of the old ways. Despite the patterns of starlight, the ones they could see in the darkness, it is not the same as what the first borne elves could see. Their abilities were far from how it was for the first borne elves. The patterns had changed in the darkness, becoming unrecognizable, and both were unable to go to the Lady, the Creatrix of the Elves, as they had been able to before.
“Rijiin I hope you are here.” Katherine murmured, focusing on the unidentifiable patterns in the darkness. She wondered and hoped that was true, and they would find what they were looking for.
The next morning they were still awake when morning encroached on Denver and they had a hearty breakfast at a diner near the hotel. Together they panned a gaze about the streets of their new city, shadowed by the Rocky Mountains. Both of them stared at shops around the area, looking for a sign that would be for what they sought here in the mile high city.
“A people they would know as them as brothers and sisters,” Katherine thought, repeating Rijiin’s words. She glanced at Mouse in silence as she took in the surroundings with her.
A sign caught their eye, one that read Watterston’s New Age Emporium. A look of surprise appeared on both of their faces. Katherine recognized it from the magazine publications that Becky's boyfriend had received by mail. Mimi and Katherine both had sensed a strange feeling inside when they stared at the sign.
As they walked toward the shop, they exchanged a glance before they entered through the plate glass door to find a large room dominated by a long counter with an enormous cash register sitting on top of it. At present, the register, as though impelled by its very size, was totaling up three-figure purchases for a milling crowd of women clad in various combinations of fringes, shawls, bead work, turquoise, silver plated tin, and imitation eagle feathers. Mimi and Katherine both hung back by the door. Mouse could not help notice that at least three shelves of the bookcase next to entrance, crammed with books on Iridology. It was just as Natil had taken in when she had visited here and met Sandy Joy. Katherine joined her and both peered at the books.
“Iridology…?” Katherine said with a questioning tone. “That’s not Wicca I think. That is not even Druid.”
Mimi only shrugged in reply as they scanned the perimeter of the store.
“No Idea, Katherine.” Mimi replied, “I don’t know Wicca, you know that.”
“Yes, I know.” She replied, “It’s nothing, trust me.”
Racks and shelves of books, in fact, filled with every free section of wall and spilled out into the middle of the room in double-side displays, but as Katherine and Mouse strolled through the store, they narrowly avoided collisions with the milling customers, their fringes, and their imitation eagle feathers.
Both noted that Watterson’s New Age Emporium offered much more than books. In fact, it seemed to have one, if not several, of everything. The sections were overwhelming.
Scented oils with astrological correspondence, tiny suede sacks adorned with iron-on Nordic runes, Aluminum cards that attracted ‘Pyramid power’, Crystal Pendants, Feathered sticks, Little chrome balls that jingled mysteriously when shaken, Bags of incense specially blended to mediate the energies of the Solstice, Dark mirrors, Pseudo Native America Shields, pipes, headdresses, and amulets lined the shelves. There were also Talismans of Mercury, Mars, Ariel, Uriel, Jupiter, also several planetary and angelic powers that Katherine did not recognize at all. Baskets of landscaping rocks were here, as was Lumps of clay, boxes of glass marbles, and large arrangements of copper wire and iron ingots that appeared to have something to do with ‘Channeling energy.’
Next to Katherine, Mimi noted the fake Egyptian necklaces, oriental earrings, Celtic bracelets, museum replicas of ancient statuary. There were tons of mass produced replicas of modern kitsch, alabaster eggs, teak wood boxes, color-coded zafus, little pewter figurines of sorcerers and mermaids. Also present were large plaster images of satyrs and nymphs, chalices of stainless steel, brass, bronze, and copper. Wands of wood, stone and plastic were in separated baskets. Gourd rattles. Staves with carvings and without. There were bowls, incense burners, crude paintings of goddesses (breasts and hips prominent) and Gods (penises and horns prominent). Several Muslin robes and colored cord hung from a hangar, quantities of quartz crystals, geodes Apache tears, jasper pebbles, moonstone beads and…
Katherine and Mouse, overwhelmed by the displays found themselves split in two parts of the store, Mimi browsing the merchandise on the shelves. Katherine found her way to the display in the long counter. Peering into the display, she saw magician’s caps, and other accessories used for Wicca. Specialty items and sales items also appeared in the display. Katherine’s gaze fell onto a box containing black stones. She managed a grimace at the price tag with it. It took her a moment to identify what she was looking at.
“Boji stones…?” She murmured to herself, ignoring the woman behind the counter who is dressed in a leather tunic and skirt. She has blue eyes, and her round cheeks almost matched her red hair. She smiled at Katherine as she stood there watching her inspect the display and the many items for sale in the glass case.
“Boji stones for sixty bucks?” Katherine gasped, and her attention turned to another box next to it held smaller ones.
“Holy crap, thirty bucks…?” She asked herself, “For small Boji stones? You have to be kidding and they look like charcoal briquettes.”
“Can I help you?” the woman asked and Katherine politely shook her head as she moved along.
A man in a thread barren robe stood next to the register and from her position in the store, Mouse saw Katherine head his way to have a polite conversation with him, which lasted several minutes. Mouse saw Katherine smile politely putting up her hands to decline the sales pitch he was showing her and a few minutes elapsed before she walked toward Mimi in silence. She had thanked him for his information that was quite helpful to her, tracking down a possible lead of the whereabouts of a certain Harper whom they hoped would be here in Denver. They had no idea of the secret being kept here, and the nineteen elves that lived at Elven Home in the mountains.
Meanwhile their search continued and Katherine approached quickly, so wanting to get the hell out of this place of tourist garbage and fake pagan relics.
“Find anything Mouse?” Katherine asked, walking toward her, and the youthful teenager shook her head.
“Well this is certainly not the place.” Katherine declared in disgust, “The shop owner is interested in nothing more than sex and the greed of Wicca. However he put me on a couple of leads though.”
“What kind of leads?” Mouse asked, feeling something jumping inside by her statement.
“Well he put us to a Kingsley College, where he thought two students currently attend.” She suggested, “He described two beautiful young women, a redhead and a dark blond-haired woman who had come in here, searching for books on casting and books on the Wicca religion. They were searching for others like themselves.”
“That sounds like Natil.” Mouse gasped, “I wonder who the other one is. I know it can’t be Rijiin.”
“No, Rijiin had dark brown hair, streaked with silver.” Katherine said, “He said an unidentifiable and very attractive female. The classes they offer here too are a joke, a farce… He is a petty little man and a traitor who should call himself a Warlock.”
Mouse gasped when she heard her echo John Stack’s words, Becky's boyfriend. She hoped one day she could tell the others, including John, where she was and hoped he could share in this strange journey, also the same transformation as she had. He was, after all, present when Rijiin and Natil had come to DeAnza and had healed her.
“Then let us leave.” Katherine suggested, “Perhaps we can find them at this Kingsley Campus.”
As they walked to the door, Mimi paused, bowing respectfully to the shopkeeper. Together they returned to their vehicle, piling in, and drove the streets in the city of Denver for a couple of hours. They saw the sign that would put them on the right path to get to Kingsley College and where they unknowingly would find the Harper of Malvern named Natil, working as head groundskeeper there. Mimi got off the highway and they soon arrived at the college, pulling into the parking lot.
“Okay, if we can find them, we should be able to get some information on where we need to go and also we can see about registering.” Katherine murmured, making Mimi nod slightly.
Nearby Natil had not been paying attention, working on a row of flowers in the planters as head gardener of Kingsley College. She had her floppy straw hat on, it being early spring, and she worked about the flowers packing the earth about them. The maiden suddenly felt strangely and looked up in alarm at the narrow walkway nearby, waiting and watching. She suddenly had felt a strange presence, one sense she had never known to have before and looking down, the Harper finished her work. Many times, however, she had glanced up again, panning a long stare across the campus quad that sprawled out around her. The Harper did not see anyone near except a few students who walked together toward the Administration building and wondered why she was having this feeling of what humans called Deja Vu. As the minutes passed, the sense had became even stronger as she knelt at the planter, and many times she panned a long stare around the entry quad of the college several times. Mostly in confusion.
“By our lady, This feeling is very strange.” She thought, grimacing as a surge of energy raced through her body.
The Harper turned and had her crew take the empty flower carts to her shed and pick up fresh ones for another area on campus. The elf maiden had not seen the duo that arrived on this campus, people she could have called family after she and Rijiin had healed them, jumping through the winds of history to do just that. It is when the elves still existed in the forests of Adria and the last few remaining in the world of men. Natil had been with them near the free town called Saint Brigid, the last remaining haven for heretics and the immortals as the Inquisition still persecuted the last of their race from existence.
As the Harper worked, she began to reminisce back to the past, where well over four hundred years ago she had been in Malvern and thought of Rijiin, her beloved who had come from this time. A name she had not thought of in centuries, and the one who had loved her without question. Natil’s beloved who had on a cold morning, four hundred plus years ago, had vanished in the forest, saving the life of a young child and the common folk that was lost in the middle of a blizzard that had descended on the forest and the town. She and Rijiin had stood on the road together, and his last words had been, ‘Hey it’s a kind of magic’ as he flashed a dazzling smile at her as he disappeared into the woods.
He had succeeded in saving the lives of the townsfolk and the child they were trying to rescue, escorting them back to Saint Brigid. As for Natil, she had gone ahead at his direction, promising to catch up to her in the encampment. When Rijiin had not arrived at his destination, everyone thought he had been claimed by the elements and the Harper was devastated for a long time after that, unable to come to terms with her loss. She had loved him dearly, returning the love he had shown her.
“Wow, I have not thought of that name in a while.” Natil thought, and she peered at the two women who walked along the walkway.
Standing slowly, she took off her hat and her long, dark red hair, streaked with silver glistened in the light. Her face showed astonishment as she stared at them. The Harper had quickly recognized them from her and Rijiin’s travels into the future, through the winds of time itself, while living in the forests of Malvern over four hundred years ago. They had done that on a whim and in the future, Rijiin had helped and healed his friend.
Natil peered at Katherine who walked with Mimi and their curious gazes moved to the surroundings. It had only been a moment, but Mouse had sensed Natil, and her sharp eyes fell upon the Harper.
“Oh my word…!” Mimi gasped, and her breath whisked away as she beheld the beauty, also the familiarity of the Harper.
“What is it Mimi?” Katherine asked, turning her head as she too scanned the surroundings of the college, impressed by the very size of it. It reminded the young woman a lot of DeAnza. Her eyes moved along the walkway and to the many flowerbeds that lay scattered with newly planted flowers. Her eyes glanced at the Harper who stood beside the largest one. Katherine's breath had been whisked away, astonished by the sight of the familiar Harper.
“It cannot be.” Mimi exclaimed, “I don’t believe it but it surely is.”
“By the goddess, is that Natil?” Katherine replied sharply, doing a double take, gasping as she peered upon her. She had recognized the Harper who came to DeAnza with Rijiin and from their strange trips through the portal in the mall shop where they jumped literally out of time and space to the fourteenth century. A place where they were and many greeted by the couple at the encampment of the few remaining elves that lived in the area known as Adria. She let out a loud gasp.
“Oh my lady… it is N-Natil!” Katherine breathed, running toward the Harper who had spied the duo and who dropped her hat. The Harper was startled when she had seen them, her heart leaping literally upward into her throat. Katherine lunged and embraced the startled elf maiden, as the young woman held her tightly. She was weeping, glad to see the young woman who had been a part of history. The young woman drew back to stare at Natil in total surprise, at her astonished face, who could not believe her own eyes.
The Harper in turn, had just gazed at the fair and beautiful, youthful face of Mimi who had not changed in the long time they had been apart. A long time had passed with the wandering of Natil through time and space and coming to Denver. For her it had been over four hundred years, but to Mouse and Katherine it had only been a year. Recovering from her surprise, the young maiden grinned and inside was very glad to see them. She had not been expecting them to come here, however.
“Natili, Na ta lle?” Mimi asked, “Ya ae llea atara?”
Mouse met the startled face of the Harper, who was startled when hearing Elvish after a very long time and in this place. Natil gasped as she bobbled her head in response to the question, just as Rijiin had taught them in Elfish a very long time ago.
“It is. I have a mother, and I am she.” Natil replied instinctively, echoing her words used centuries ago and when she stood before Paul Del Mari’s soldiers, displaced from Shrinerock Castle. The elf maiden had gasped loudly at the words and narrowed her eyes, desperately trying to place names and the faces that stood in front of her.
“Mimi? Katherine?” Natil asked, finally remembering the names “Is that you?”
“Yes, we’re here!” Mouse exclaimed, and she raised her arms before briefly embracing the confused Harper again.
“I-I do not believe it.” Natil replied with a gasp, “H-how on Earth did you get here? H-how did you know to come to Denver? H-how did you know what time and I would be here?”
“I don’t know, something told us to come here.” Mimi replied and the Harper had gasped, as tears welled up from her eyes.
“Strange, things never seem to change for the elves. We always seem to continue despite the world around us and have visions that result in strange journeys with no explanation.” Natil replied softly, “And I didn’t expect them to come here, or see them again either.”
Her blue eyes examined Mimi, and Katherine, both transformed by the power of starlight from long ago. She saw nothing of what they had been during those times, the magic transforming them fully into elves and the scrap of soul that had been once human had vanished from them fully. Mimi was still a young teenage elf maiden with long auburn hair and aquamarine eyes. Her form still was thin and muscular. She was still as youthful as Natil remembered after she and Rijiin had changed her. Katherine had become lean, curvy and had long dark hair that fell in curls around her shoulders. The Harper had gasped at them, astonished by their appearance.
“You look great mistress Harper.” Mimi complimented and noted a blush on the Harper’s still confused face. The magic had changed them viciously into beautiful, youthful-looking elf maidens and Natil could not see anything of what she had remembered them to be. She smiled at the sight before her, shaking her head silently in disbelief.
“So do the both of you.” Natil replied, “A very welcomed sight.”
“So where is Rijiin?” Katherine asked, and Mimi glanced at her. “Is he with you here in Denver?”
They both saw the grimace appear on the Harper’s fair features.
“Nay, he is not. I…I do not know… where he is…” Natil replied, “He vanished into the forest a few months after we returned to Adria. He risked venturing into a blizzard to save a young child. He perished that night, and never returned. I suspect something must have happened and he was not able to find his way. There is always hope that he still lives, as it is very difficult to kill an elf. Perhaps he will end up here as I have. There is always hope.”
They bowed their heads in silence, stunned by the news.
“I hope so too Natil.” Katherine replied, placing a hand on her shoulder.
“Come, we have a lot to catch up on and it is five o’clock. I shall take you to a place, a sanctuary, where you will be safe.” Natil explained, excusing herself to make a phone call. After she was done, she regarded the duo with a smile.
“Will Talla and the others be there?”
The Harper gasped loudly, peering at them, as a pained look appeared on her face. She shook her head slightly with a grimace on her face. Memories of her family, four hundred plus years ago, overwhelmed her senses and Natil had to shake her head as-if to clear the harsh memories.
“Oh no, they have faded centuries ago…” Natil said, bowing her head, a look of pain still on her face, “I am, at this moment, the last of the first born Elves.”
Natil forced a smile as she stared at them, people whom she had traveled the winds of time to help and heal with Rijiin. She wondered if Rijiin were out there somewhere, if so, where and how the elf would know to come to Denver. The maiden also wondered if he would make a grand entrance, a smile on his face and return to his place in her arms.
“They are gone.” Natil said, “However, in light of that, there is a new chance for the elves, and they have gathered here in Denver.”
Katherine and Mimi had shown surprise at the statement.
“How…?” Katherine asked, “If you all were fading?”
“Yes, if the elves faded long ago, how can they return to the world?” Mouse asked in half understanding, and met the slight nod of Natil.
“The new elves in this world were changed by the awakening old blood in them.” the Harper told them, “They do not know what we had to endure so many centuries ago, and only now are learning of the lady. I have been extremely fortunate to find them here.”
“How come you are here and how is that possible?” Asked the youthful teenager, and the Harper merely grimaced.
“It is a long story beloved.” The Harper murmured.
“Can you take us there?” Mouse asked.
“We have a truck over there.” Katherine added, “We can give you a lift if you like.”
“It is greatly appreciated. In fact, I canceled my ride to the home, explaining I found another way of getting there.” Natil replied, as she hugged each one, still startled by their presence here. She wondered if this was a sign by the Goddess.
The Harper did not know that Rijiin was alive and well, somewhere in time itself. She had no idea that he wandered through time, the world over and having to endure solitude of the many events around him. Her mate was certainly on his way, moving through time just prior to her coming to Elven Home.
As they walked toward the vehicle, they all began to chat among themselves, laughing and carrying on, glad to see the Harper who in turn was glad to see them too. Many events and destiny were looking up for the duo, finding Natil. They were about to discover a new secret in the mountains of Colorado, a secret well kept from all but the few elves who resided in Denver. Mouse drove as Katherine and Natil sat beside her, down Highway 70-West leading them toward the mountains, they made the transition to highway 6. They drove on for at least five miles before Natil motioned at the window at the curve in the road.
“Turn here.” Natil directed and Mimi complied.
“There is no road here.” Katherine said as the truck disappeared into the forest and through the trees.
“I don’t know if this U haul™ beast will make it. But we’ll certainly try.”