A/N- Please Reveiw if you read
This was actually my first story on this site, although I had to take it down at one point. I apologize to all of my past reveiwers for the inconvenience. I have been working on this storyline for a long time (several years by now) and will hopefully be able to get it published should I ever finish it.
There was a great commotion in Glein Village, enough to make the old magician Trile wonder about it. He picked up his pace, smoothed back his graying purple hair, and smirked. It was too bad that he was still dressed in his traveling clothes, little more than some well worn slacks and trousers, and of course the same travel stained cloak he'd had for the past ten years. But what was the point in dressing in nice clothes if you were just going to get them dirty?
By contrast, his staff was always in excellent condition, mostly due to the enchantments on it. It was the staff he'd been granted by the High Council of Magic and proof of his honorary Master's rank. It was the same gnarled piece of wood he'd had ever since he'd first learned magic. Although he could have had a new, straight and perfectly round piece of wood, he'd chosen to hold on to his old staff for sentimental reasons. Besides, the unique shape gave it character. However, to make it an official Master's staff, the High Council had added a gilded sculpture of a phoenix to the head of the staff. The bird glared out with eyes of ruby, clutching the staff in its talons with its wings spread out menacingly.
Trile himself was well respected in the village, and a well-known magician. He had left his cottage in the village to find a copy of an obscure arcane tome that was supposedly held in a nearby town, and he had only just returned after several days of absence. He had not expected to return to such a scene.
Meilon, one of the village's messenger boys, rushed by in a great hurry. Meilon was tall and skinny, dressed in the typical fashion of a shirt, many pocketed pants, and a gray cloak for concealment and weather. His own quirk was a pair of goggles that he always had with him. The boy was in such a rush that he did not even stop to tell Trile what was going on! He rushed to the stables, and moments later, was seen riding off at top speed on the village's fastest hippogriff. Other messengers could also be seen riding off. A small crowd was gathering excitedly together, murmuring anxiously amongst each other. They were gathering near his home!
Trile began to mutter to himself as he walked to his house to see what the commotion was all about. "There's only two things that could account for this! One is a murder and the other…" His mutterings were cut short when Mrs. Pierte, the miller's wife, shouted out his name and ran over. Trile nodded his greeting and said grumpily, "And what exactly is going on here?"
Mrs. Pierte was too excited to be insulted by Trile's grumpiness, very unusual since she would normally give him a stern lecture on manners when Trile would grump at her. She could barely contain her excitement as she half shouted, "It's … It's your daughter. She's finally woken up!"
Trile nearly jumped from excitement, "Really? What happened? When did she wake up? Was my theory…"
Mrs. Pierte did not allow him to finish spouting off questions. "She woke up not an hour ago! It's a good thing that you didn't spend the night at Sheti's like you wanted! She's pitching a royal fit! I can't understand what she's saying, but she seems really angry, and scared. You would not believe her temper, well, maybe you would but…"
Mrs. Pierte sort of trailed off. Trile decided that he had better get to his daughter's room as quickly as possible. He started to dash off, then remembered something, "Oh! Cerani, could you do me a favor?" He waited until she nodded, "Could you get me the book on Thrani magic, from the library? Thank you."
Mrs. Pierte rushed off back the way that Trile had come from to get the book. Trile watched her hustle away, then ran as quickly as his old bones would allow to his cottage. The crowd of villagers that had gathered around his house parted to let Trile pass through. As he opened the door, Trile turned to shout at the villagers, "Well, why are you all still here? I know you all have better things to do than wait around in my garden. And if anything big happens I'm sure you can hear all about it tomorrow!"
Trile slammed the door behind him and walked into the hallway, not even pausing to see if the crowd outside his house would disperse. Trile's daughter, whom he had named Lusia, was the result of his affair with a powerful High Elf sorceress. Trile himself was a Nian Elf, a woodland elf with a strong empathy with nature. Thus, Lusia was a rare breed of elf, a half-blood. She had a High elf's blue-gray eyes and was slightly taller than the average Nian elf. But she had a Nian's dark purple hair. Since she was the child of two powerful magicians, she had strong magic flowing in her veins. Her latent powers alone would make her formidable.
But Lusia had been born into a coma. By magic, Trile had been able to discern that Lusia was physically perfect, but her soul was elsewhere. It inhabited a different body that had been born at exactly the same time on another world. Lusia was an Egomancer, a rare form of magician that had multiple 'selves' scattered throughout reality. The Egomancer could only inhabit one body at a time, but could jump from one to another instantly. However, the Egomancer would retain the memories of the alter egos between jumps, and the unused bodies would remain inert, in a coma. However, an Egomancer was not born with the instinctual knowledge to be able to use this power, and since Egomancers did not know of their own nature, it could be quite disconcerting to wake up in an unfamiliar body with unfamiliar people all around, not to mention the language barrier!
So Trile had placed Lusia on a spare bed and looked after her, in case his beloved daughter should ever awaken. Since the day she had been born, twenty years ago, he had maintained a constant vigil with the help of the townsfolk. But he'd had even more of a surprise as his daughter slowly aged into the most beautiful elf to grace the world since the tragic queen Nelime. Because of this and Lusia's potential powers, a great interest had grown around this sleeping beauty over the years. The royal houses of the Nian nations and even the High Council of Wizards that governed the venerable high elves took interest in her, demanding to be informed as soon as possible upon her awakening. There couldn't have been a better time for her to awaken.
Trile hastily made his way to the back room, where Lusia's bed was located. His son, Chine, met him at the door. "Ah! There you are Dad! I'm sure that you heard by now: Lusia woke up! She seems a little upset though… She keeps making strange gestures, and a while ago she was screaming at us at the top of her lungs. Now she's just sitting there, glaring at us."
Trile asked, "Were you able to figure out what language she was speaking?"
Chine shook his head, "No." Then he looked speculative "It isn't like Nian, and it isn't any like anything else I've ever heard… It seems alien…" He shrugged, "It must be from another world!"
Trile simply harrumphed and said, "Don't be silly. You're jumping to conclusions! Her other body could have been a badger for all we know, or what you say could also be true. But the only way to find out is to try and communicate with her. And I just happen to be prepared! I knew this translation spell would come in handy." Trile began to chant and make dramatic gestures with his hands. Nothing seemed to happen, but he seemed satisfied. Then he turned to Chine and said, "Ok, I'm going to talk with Lusia. Why don't you get her some clothes, because she is probably upset about being nude in front of a bunch of strangers. In fact, Miss Niet probably has some spare garments."
Chine started to turn red, "You mean… do you mean Zora?" Chine said this a little too hastily.
Trile merely nodded leaning heavily against his staff, half-smiling as Chine's face turned even redder. "Well, it isn't as if you need an excuse to see your girlfriend, is it?"
Chine snapped at Trile, "She isn't my girlfriend!" then he said, "Anyway, I've never actually been in her room…" When Trile didn't say anything Chine sighed and walked off to go to Zora's house. Trile mused to himself that Chine had actually required very little convincing, so he couldn't be entirely displeased with his little errand. Trile shrugged and then opened the door, just in time to hear Lusia's latest verbal assault. The effect of Trile's spell did not enable him to speak her language, it simply allowed him to understand what Lusia was saying, and it also allowed anybody to understand him. Lusia was nearly shouting in an irate voice, "Why do you just keep standing there, staring at me! Doesn't anybody here speak English? And where are my clothes? Arrgg!" She obviously didn't expect a reply.
Trile grinned and walked in, saying, "No, actually. We speak Nianic, the southern dialect." Lusia was half sitting up in her feather down bed, modestly holding her bed-sheets over her body. The bed frame was of a low quality wood, and not very elaborate. Next to the bed was a small table. Normally it would have a few odds and ends on it but these were conspicuously absent. However, it didn't take a genius to figure out the connection between the missing objects and the wreckage littering the room. The walls were bare- and somewhat scarred now- with one large window above and to the right of Lusia, who was on the left side of the room.
The two maids were sitting in chairs at the other end of the room, one sewing, and the other with a half-read book in her hands. It looked like they had given up on trying to calm Lusia down, but it also seemed like they had managed to avoid the worst of Lusia's assault. When she heard Trile, Lusia quickly turned to face him, her cascading purple hair nearly covering half of her face for a few moments. Trile continued, "As to your clothes, I've sent my son, Chine, to get you some."
One of the maids said, "Thank heavens, its master Trile!"
Lusia looked startled, but she calmed down somewhat and lowered her voice to ask, "Did you just… understand me? And speak to me? But why could I… I mean, that wasn't… but I could…" When she wasn't shouting angrily, Trile noted, Lusia actually had a very beautiful voice. It was soft and melodic.
Trile replied, "Yes, we can understand each-other. I'm using a translation spell." Then he turned to the maids, "Thank you. Why don't you go prepare lunch, and give me some time to talk alone with Miss Lusia." The maids obediently left, leaving Trile alone in the room with Lusia.
"Finally, somebody I can actually talk to! Can you please tell me what is going on here? I just woke up in a strange room, and I'm not … me… anymore! I have no idea where I am, and you don't look like any people I've ever seen before. And you have glowing lines floating around your head…" Lusia looked like she was on the verge of a panic, breathing heavily with an unfocused look to her eyes.
Trile scratched his head in confusion, "Glowing lines…? Interesting, I've never heard of somebody with so many latent talents. Don't tell me you have the mystic sight too."
Lusia looked around, perplexed. "Mystic sight? Spells? But magic is a myth… look, can't you just give me some answers? I want to know what's happening to me! I want to go home!" She was shouting again, and squeezed her eyes closed. But Trile could see how swollen they were, and the damp lines running down her face. Poor girl.
Trile explained softly, "It might take some time for you to appreciate the full implications of what I am about to tell you. This won't be easy to hear, so please try to keep yourself calm. You are in Glein village, in the Principality of Rotenno." Seeing that Lusia showed no recognition Trile continued, "You probably don't know where that is, but we are now on Gaia, a world inhabited primarily by us elves. You're probably thinking that this is impossible and that this is some sort of dream, right?" Lusia nodded. Trile went on "It isn't. What happened is something like an out of body experience. More like your consciousness jumped into a new body, but you retained your memories from your former self. Very confusing, eh? But go on ahead and pinch yourself, it still hurts. What you need is a mirror, then you could see that you are as much an elf as the rest of us. On your world, something must have happened to your body to displace you into Lusia, the body you are in now. Lusia has been in a coma her whole life, waiting for your soul… for just such an occurrence."
Trile winced at his explanation, it barely made any sense to him, and this girl knew nothing of magic, so it probably made less sense to her. Trile sighed and then said, "But that isn't what's important. Lusia, you are my daughter. This is your home."
Lusia looked troubled, "…But if what you're saying is true, then what happened to …to the…me, me?! Am I …dead?" She'd actually understood him! Trile was nearly dumbfounded.
"I can't tell you. All I know is that you are now my daughter, for the time being. You may be able to get back to your old self, or you may be in that body forever."
Lusia shook her head, "No! This can't be! I… I don't know a thing about your world! Not your customs, and not even your language! How am I supposed to live here?"
Trile said, "I will teach you. What kind of Father would I be otherwise? At any rate, think of this as a second chance at life. It may be a bit difficult at first, but if you bear through you may even find that you like being Lusia better. All I ask is that you give her… give us a chance! Can you do that?"
His hopes were shattered when Lusia stubbornly crossed her arms, and started shouting at the top of her lungs in a strained voice. "No! This is complete… bull! Send me back home right now! I don't want to stay here and you are not my father! I want to be me again!"
Trile winced at her words, not so much the volume or intensity in her voice, but he was hurt by her refusal to accept him. However, he had known it wouldn't be easy. He had to steel himself, and do whatever it might take to bring her out of her mind set before she ended up being in permanent denial. Fortunately, Egomancers had a built in mental resistance, else their unique ability would surely cause them insanity.
Trile slowly approached his daughter, leaning toward her as she edged back away from him. "Lusia, you are you. You might be in a different body now, but your mind is still your own. Here…" Trile conjured a mirror, and he held it between his hands, slowly holding it out toward Lusia so she could see her reflection. Perhaps seeing herself would help to dispel her doubts.
Lusia looked like she might hit his hands away, at first, an she had been drawing in breath for another round of shouting, but when she saw her reflection she froze, her eyes focusing on it. She simply stared at it for a few minutes. She slowly raised a hand, and ran her fingers along the mirror's surface. Then she shrieked, "Get away from me!" She hurled the mirror aside, and it crashed into the wall. The impact shattered it, and then the shards dissolved into sparkles of light. Trile had a feeling that she had been shouting more at the reflection than at him. She grabbed her hair with her hands and started sobbing, saying between her sobs, "Stop it! Stop messing with my head! It isn't real, it isn't! This is all a dream! It's all a dream! It has to be!"
After watching her for moment, Trile couldn't stand seeing her like this any longer. He wrapped his arms around his daughter, and held her consolingly. Surprisingly, she didn't resist. She wrapped her arms around him and cried on his shoulder. Trile held her like that, whispering softly to her until she had calmed. After she stopped sobbing as much, he asked, "Do you feel better now?"
"Not really." Her voice was muffled and frightened. "I fell like I don't know anything anymore. I'm so scared."
Trile said softly, "Its okay. It's okay for you to feel that way. I know this is tough for you. But I will be here for you, my daughter." He clutched her tightly to him. "You'll be alright, so just trust in your father, okay?"
Lusia took a long time before she started mumbling, "I don't know why, but you really do feel like… like family to me. But I have a father! I just don't understand."
Trile said, "I told you this would be confusing. But please, just accept this for now, okay? Even if you can't understand what is happening right now in your head, trust your heart."
Lusia eventually agreed, "It doesn't look like I have much choice. But, where do I begin?" She loosened her grasp on Trile, and backed away from him. Though he was a little reluctant to relinquish her warmth, he respected her need for space.
Trile said, "First things first. Right now you have to re-learn who you are. Your name is Lusia, as you probably already gathered. You have been in a coma for your whole life, until now, but during this time you became quite famous because of your great beauty, and because you are the daughter of two wizards and thus quite magical yourself. I am one of the wizards, your father."
Lusia looked somewhat annoyed, "So what, I'm a magical elf girl now? Just great… Maybe I should…" Lusia's imminent rant was interrupted by a knock on the door.
Trile turned to the door, saying, "Pardon me for a moment." Trile half opened the door, peeking his head through the doorway. Chine and Zora waited on the other side. Chine was holding some folded garments, and Zora was leaning back as if she might have pressed her ear to the door. Trile said, "Ah, perfect timing. Hello miss Zora, nice to see you."
Zora was a pretty young girl with hair that was a color somewhere between pink and purple. Zora said, "I came over to meet Lusia, since she is awake now. And she can have these, they're my party clothes."
Trile politely pretended to be shocked by her generosity, "You didn't have to give her those!"
Zora smiled prettily for a moment, "Well, how could I not. And she will probably need some formal clothes anyway… considering…"
Trile said, "Well that was very nice of you, I'm sure she will be very grateful for them."
Then Chine asked, "Can we see Sis?"
Trile shook his head. "You should wait for a bit. She is rather upset right now, the transition was very hard on her, and her world was probably very unlike ours… or at least to the extent of the people and their culture. I'll introduce you two at lunch, that is, if you plan on staying for lunch, Miss Zora."
Zora said, "Of course I will. This is the first day that you've been home since you left to get that book. And I don't mind chatting with Chine for a while." She affectionately ruffled Chine's hair as she said this, which caused him to grimace, which in turn caused Zora to laugh.
Chine handed Trile the clothes, and then turned to Zora, saying "Come on, let's go to the dining room for now." The two of them walked into the other part of the house, teasing each other. Trile turned back into the room, closing the door as he went.
When he turned around, he saw that Lusia was staring intently at him. "Who was that? I could make out about half of a conversation." She paused and looked down, "but I couldn't tell what anybody other than you was saying, though."
Trile gave a slightly embarrassed smile. "Well, magic does have its limits. My spell only works on me. That is, I can understand and be understood, but it won't work for anybody else. The visitors were Chine, your half-brother, and his friend Zora. Zora is a nice young lady who lives down the street, You will get along well with her. Oh! And in case you're wondering, personally I think there is something between them, but don't call Zora his girlfriend. Chine hates that!" Trile chuckled a bit, and was pleased note that Lusia smiled for the first time.
Lusia said laughingly, "Oh, I see. You know, you elves aren't so different from … humans, what I was."
Trile raised an eyebrow at this. "A human? Really? There aren't any humans on Gaia. They were thought to be mere fantasy."
Lusia sighed, "The same thing could be said of elves and the Earth. This is all so... I don't know... I feel really... out of place."
Trile gave her a sympathetic look, "I can't say that I know how you feel, but I suppose that it is only natural you feel that way. You will probably start to feel less disoriented when you get into the routine of life here. Anyway, here are some clothes that Miss Zora graciously decided to give you. I'll give you some time to yourself so that you can get dressed and compose yourself. Also, I'll see about getting you something to eat. You are probably quite hungry after this mess." Trile placed Lusia's clothes at the end of her bed, then walked to the door. He opened the door and stepped through, and as he closed the door he turned to give Lusia a few last words, "Keep a strong heart through all of this, don't do anything foolish! Just remember that though we cannot replace the family you had in your other life, we love you all the same." Then Trile closed the door and walked down the hallway to the dining room.
He did not get very far before he heard Lusia's muffled voice, "Do they really expect me to wear this?"
Trile paused to shout back, "It's what all the young nilf's wear these days."
Lusia shouted in response, "But I'll freeze to death in this! And what's a 'nilf'?"
Trile rolled his eyes and shouted, "A 'nilf' is a female elf. And you will need clothes like those because we have a warm climate!" When after a pause Lusia did not respond, Trile shrugged and continued towards the dining room.
As he passed by the kitchen, he heard the maids having some kind of argument. The older of the two, a short plump lady in her late thirties with lavender hair was saying, "... just don't think it would be good to have so many dishes. She will need to time to get used to our cooking, that's all."
Then the younger maid, a tall but skinny nilf with green hair argued, "I agree that she knows nothing of elven food, but I think we need to experiment and see what she likes. What's the harm of doing a little extra cooking if it helps us in the long run? Besides, we'll already have to cook a big meal, Zora came over with the Master's son..." Trile decided not to interfere, the two could work it out themselves. Then his stomach growled and he decided that he was on the younger nilf's side.
Trile entered the dining room, and took his seat at the head of the large dining table. The dining room was the biggest room in the cottage, decorated with a griffin head over the kitchen door, various paintings of Trile's family and close friends, and a grandfather clock in one corner. In the center was a large oak table, the legs carved to resemble serpents. Around the table were ten chairs, four on a side, and one at each end. The chairs were mismatched, varying from simple to elaborate. Chine and Zora were sitting in the two closest chairs to Trile's right, talking amongst themselves.
Zora said happily to Chine, "This sure is exciting! I'm actually going to be able to meet your sister, and find out what she's like." Then she said somewhat more sternly, "Although she certainly has not displayed the best of manners thus far. I hope she doesn't take too much after you!" Zora was giving Trile a stern look. Trile could only shift in his seat and give an embarrassed smile, "Now, now, miss Zora... no need to be critical. Besides, we don't know what kind of customs she may have, what we interpret as rude, she might see as minding her manners, and vice versa." Zora did not look very convinced. "Even if that is true, she's gonna have to learn our manners real quick. I can only imagine the trouble that she might cause if she's rude to the High Elves."
Trile's expression darkened, "Yes, those High Elves. Hopefully she'll make a good impression, because if not... that could be real trouble. I wonder if..." Trile's musings were interrupted by slow, cautious footsteps coming down the hallway.
Lusia called out in a perplexed voice, "Umm... Mr.? Where are you? Which way should I go?"
Chine and Zora looked at each other, then at Trile. Chine asked, "What did she say?"
Trile shushed them and then raised his voice to be heard, "In here. Second door on your left."
Lusia's voice was heard again, "Thank you." Moments later she walked shyly in. She was wearing a silk robe that trailed down to her ankles. It was clearly a little small for her, since normally they were supposed to reach down to the floor, dragging softly behind her. The robe was awkwardly tied around her waist by a silk sash. It was not very visible, but under the robes Lusia was also wearing a light dress which extended as far as her knees. Both the robe and the sash were beautifully decorated with peacock patterns. The way the robe was light and airy, it seemed to leave a colorful trail behind Lusia. Lusia looked around the room, then at each of the occupants. She seemed to spend a smidgen more time looking at Zora, noting that she was dressed similarly. However, Zora's robes were light blue, and had no decorations. "I see that you were right about the way ... um, girls dress here. I saw the two ...nilfs? ...nilfs in the kitchen, and this young lady here. But why are my clothes so much more fancy?"
Trile said, "These were Miss Zora's best clothes, that she will be letting you keep. You should thank her. But first, I have something to give to you." Trile reached into a pocket in his dirty robes and pulled out a golden necklace. It had a golden figurine on it, a dragon taking flight. Trile gestured the necklace toward Lusia, but since she was at the other end of the massive table she made no move to take it. Trile passed the necklace to Chine, who handed the necklace to Zora. Zora examined the necklace for a while. She commented, "This is beautiful." Then she passed the necklace to Lusia.
Lusia examined the necklace much as Zora had, but did not put it on. "This is very nice, but how is this supposed to help? I still can't talk to anyone other than you, um... and come to think of it I never got your name. I'm sorry, but I don't know if I could call you 'father'."
Trile did his best to disguise his disappointment, "Hmmm... Well, I'll introduce you to everybody once you put that necklace on. Go ahead, it is my gift to you. And it will be a lot more useful than you think."
Lusia hesitated a bit, "You're up to something... Still, I suppose I had better see how it looks." Lusia slipped on the necklace, and stumbled as a sudden wave of dizziness washed over her. This sensation passed quickly, however. Lusia straightened herself out and said, "Well, how does it look?"
Zora and Chine both nearly jumped. They said in unison, "I understood that!"
Trile grinned, "The necklace is magical. I had it made a long time ago, but never really used it. It works a lot like my spell, you'll be able to understand anything that anybody says, and anybody will be able to understand what you say. Of course, you should probably still try and learn Nianic, because if you ever take the necklace off you'll lose the enchantment. Oh, speaking of magic, did either of you two see Mrs. Pierte?"
Chine said, "As a matter of fact, she stopped by when you were talking to Lusia. She chatted with the gardener for a bit, and handed him some book. Why? Were you expecting her?"
Trile said, "As a matter of fact, I was. I sent her to get a book on Thrani magic that might be able to shed some light on Lusia's abilities. I'll get it from Mr. Nedrag later." Then Trile said, "Ah, that's right... I don't need to be keeping this spell up." Trile stood up, pushing his chair back with the back of his legs. He stood completely upright and made an expansive gesture with his arms. First he held them straight out with his palms outward, then he moved his arms so that they pointed sideways and opposite each other, then upwards. Then he simply dropped his arms and sat back down again as if nothing had happened. But Lusia was giving him an odd stare. Trile could only assume that she had seen him draw the lines of power back into himself.
Lusia decided not to say anything, and instead she began talking to Zora, "You must be Zora. Thank you for these clothes. They're beautiful. I really appreciate you helping me out."
Zora shrugged, "No big deal. To be honest, I thought they were a bit too flamboyant for me, but they look very nice on you."
Trile cleared his throat, "Ah, now that this is all taken care of, I think I should introduce everybody. I am Trile," Trile gestured towards Chine, "This is Chine, your half-brother."
Chine waved shyly, "Hello... Sis."
Lusia extended her hand. "It's very nice to meet you, Chine." Chine looked at Lusia''s hand, perplexed. Lusia sighed and lowered her hand, "I'm guessing you people don't shake hands. It's a custom where I'm from, I just didn't think..."
Chine said, "No big. Anyway, nice to meet you too."
Trile gestured towards Zora. "This is Miss Zora, who lives just down the street."
Zora made her greeting, "It was nice to meet you. I'll have to show you around sometime."
Lusia responded, "Thank you, I'd like that. Thank you all, you've been very kind... If I may ask, where is my mother?"
There was an awkward silence around the table. Trile looked down, his expression troubled. "I'd hoped that you wouldn't ask that."
Lusia looked around nervously, "Oh… Well, forget I asked."
Trile shook his head. "No, you do deserve an answer. Your mother was a High Elf, and they are very... well... snobby. Shortly after you were born, she was called in front of their ruling body, a council of wizards. They decided that a High elf and a Nian should never be together. I never saw her since." Trile looked sad and angry, "They sent a messenger... to tell me that you were my responsibility. That was before you became such a big deal, and even then they decided that they must adhere to their previous decision." Trile's expression brightened a bit, "Eventually I got over my heartbreak and settled down again, there was not really anything else I could do. Then I met Chine's mother, Sheti. We fell in love, got married, and then found out that we absolutely could not live in the same house together! So eventually she left, and she lives in a nearby village. We still visit each other regularly, in fact I just got back from her place."
Chine said, "But father, I'd heard that it had more to do with the fact that you were both powerful wizards than that she was High Elf."
Trile shrugged, "There was lot of unusual things in that relationship."
Lusia looked at Trile, "I see, I'm sorry that things haven't worked out well for you. I guess it must be pretty rough on you..." She paused for a moment, "Do you think I'll ever be able to meet my mother?"
Trile said, "I wouldn't be at all surprised. In fact, you will probably see quite a lot of her when you go to visit the High elves." He sighed, "I often wonder how she is doing. But I guess she would have moved on by now. And you might want to be careful around her, she is very prideful."
Lusia nodded, "Which brings me to my next question: what will happen to me? You said that I had become well known, and I can't imagine that people will overlook my waking up."
Trile looked up with a stern expression and said, "No, they won't... the moment that the townspeople learned you had awakened, they sent out messengers. I expect that these messengers will return with invitations from the royal houses of the Niafold nations, and most likely a summons from the High Council of Wizards. I imagine that the High Council will want to make use of your powers, and probably the royal houses will try to get you to marry into the nobility. I suspect you'll have to visit Prince Kallan very soon. He's our prince, and his castle is but a short ride from this village. So, you should enjoy this free time while you can, since things are apt to get a lot busier."
Lusia paused, "W- wait. Prince Kallan, as in he's a prince? Okay, so I'm attractive, and I have strong magic. Is there something else you aren't telling me about myself?"
Trile said, "Your mother wasn't a princess, if that's what you're asking."
Lusia asked, "But then… why the interest? I mean, if I'm not from royalty…"
Trile said, "Oh! You must be worried about the class difference. It is a complicated issue, but I'll try to be simple about it."
While Trile paused to think, Chine said, "Wizards are a little better off than other commoners. It isn't out of the question for one of the nobility to marry someone with the gift of magic. But they usually choose somebody with weaker powers…"
Chine trailed off, not sure how to finish his explanation. Trile picked up where he had left off. "That is simply because somebody with stronger powers might be able to put a spell on everybody in the castle. But since you haven't been trained in magic, you wouldn't pose that threat."
At this point the green-haired maid walked into the room. "Masters Trile and Chine, miss Lusia, miss Zora. Lunch will be ready soon. We prepared a feast for you, with a variety of dishes so that Miss Lusia may have a fair sampling of elven foods." The maid nodded and left.
Trile said, "Ah, excellent! Well, while we're waiting for lunch, why don't you tell us about your world, Lusia?"
Lusia started to respond, "My name isn't, Lusia, it's…" She trailed off, slightly flustered. "Then again… I guess it doesn't really matter, under the circumstances. Well, I don't really know where to..." She was interrupted by somebody rushing into the room. He was an elf with short purple hair dressed in dirty clothes and gloves, holding a small garden scoop in one hand and a book in the other. He seemed to be quite excited about something. "Master Trile, there you are! I was looking all over for you! Its... you have to see this!"
Trile smiled, "Calm down Rait. What is all the trouble?"
Rait did not calm down, and he seemed like he was ready to start jumping up and down. "It's... It's your roses, sir! They..."
Trile frowned teasingly, "My roses haven't wilted, have they?"
Rait shook his head vehemently, "No, sir, its nothing like that! They've grown! Enormous! They're the size of trees!"
Trile half rose from his chair. He raised an eyebrow, "What? Are you pulling my leg?"
Rait earnestly continued on, "No. I'm serious, cross my heart and hope to die! I've never seen anything like this!" Then he looked around and said quietly, "Were you doing any... 'experiments' on the roses, sir?"
Trile turned his head more towards Lusia so that Rait couldn't see him wink. Then he said in a severe voice, "Are you implying that I may have used my magic on them? Hmm?"
Lusia tried to stifle her laughter as Rait visibly cringed. "No, I didn't mean... mercy, sir!" Then he noticed Lusia, and he gave a little bow, "And whom do we have here? I don't believe I've seen your face before, miss."
Lusia said, "Hello. I'm Lusia, nice to meet you."
Rait seemed taken aback, "Wait, you're Lusia? And you're awake? They don't tell me nothin'! They rush off to tell the king of some far off land, but do they tell the gardener, no!"
Trile said, "I suppose I shall have to introduce you to the gardener then. Lusia, this is Mr. Nedrag."
Lusia nodded, and Rait said, "Hello, I'm Rait. Rait Nedrag's the name! Nice to see you awake, miss!"
Trile continued on, "Rait here is a good fellow. A bit energetic, perhaps, but nobody can tend to my garden like he can. Ah, by the way, didn't Mrs. Pierte stop by? With a book for me?"
Rait nodded, "Yes sir. That was my other reason for coming in, though I was more thinking of the giant roses. You had better take a look at 'em. I just hope they don't grow mouths or something! Just this morning they were as normal as normal could be, but when I went back to check up on them not five minutes ago, they gave me a real shock! I almost had a heart attack...!"
Trile yawned, "Yes, yes, I'll see to it after lunch. Why don't you join us, I'll go tell the maids to set an extra spot."
Rait looked pleasantly surprised, "You mean it, sir?" when Trile nodded, "Thank you! Very much!" Rait then half-walked, half-ran to the chair next to Lusia, plopping down in it.
Lusia turned to face Rait. "You seem to be very excited. I take it this kind of thing doesn't happen too often..."
Rait looked back at Lusia, "Well, perhaps I'm overreacting a bit... but when a plant suddenly becomes a giant, it makes you wonder. Anyway, I'm sure it's nothing you need to be worrying about, miss. You just enjoy lunch. I sure will. The maids here are excellent cooks!"
Trile stroked his goatee musingly for a while and said, "I don't know... To be honest, the roses really do sound like they were affected by some sort of magic... not mine, but... It may have been an assassination attempt, or something of that nature. After all, the roses are right behind your bedroom wall, Lusia."
Lusia looked genuinely worried, "What, you think somebody tried to kill me? But… why? I haven't done a thing to anyone!"
Trile was still stroking his beard. "It probably isn't that, though certainly a jealous sorceress could be a lot of trouble... Still, Examining the roses couldn't hurt."
There was another awkward silence at the table. Lusia was simply sitting there, looking worried, Trile was stroking his beard as before, Zora and Chine were simply looking at each other, and Rait was gazing around nervously. The silence was finally interrupted when Chine asked, "So what was your world like, Sis?"
Trile said, "Ah, yes. She comes from the Human world, which is apparently a lot like ours."
Chine looked surprised, "A Human? Really? I heard the stories, but I thought they were just fairy tales. According to the stories, Humans have no magic, but they make up for it with technology. Is that true?"
Lusia blinked a few times. "That's a weird question." After a while she answered "I guess its true, though. Magic is just a myth on the Earth, a way to explain the inexplicable. But we have done amazing things with technology. There's these things called cars. They are like carriages, I guess, but they don't need horses."
Zora joined the discussion, "I also hear that the animals on earth are mystical hybrids. Like horses, which have the rear end of a hippogriff and no wings. And then peacocks, that use their tails to hypnotize people and then eat them."
Lusia responded, "What? No, peacocks don't eat people! And their tail feathers don't actually hypnotize people; they are just very nice to look at. I think that they use their tails to attract mates, or something. But if Earth's animals are legends here, then are mythical creatures from earth… are they real here?"
Zora said, "I don't know, what creatures do you mean?"
Lusia began to name off creatures, "Like dragons, and griffins, and harpies…"
Zora said, "We have griffins. They aren't too dangerous if you don't provoke them and if you don't threaten their nests. But dragons are a different story! Normally they don't bother elves, I hear it's because they don't like the taste, but every once in a while a dragon will go nuts and start attacking cities. Dragon attacks are comparable to natural disasters! Just about the only thing that can stop an angry dragon is a wizard."
proudly, "Yeah, as a matter of fact, Dad stopped two dragon
Trile grinned embarrassed, "Well… I might've thrown a fireball or two, or three… but that was a long time ago. At any rate, such an undertaking is never to be taken lightly. Those creatures are dangerous, what with being able to breathe fire and having huge physical strength. Only a legendary elephant could go head to head with a dragon in terms of physical power, and unfortunately, there are no elephants."
Lusia said, "I've seen elephants." Then she regretted it when everybody at the table turned to look at her. "No, really, I have! You see what some people like to do is keep a variety of animals in these parks called zoos. There they keep small amounts of the animals in a replica of their natural environment. And they have places like these all over, so that people can see animals from all over the world. That is where I've seen elephants."
Zora said, "It is hard to believe such a creature could exist! Are they really the size of dragons? And do they have those huge noses and gigantic tusks?"
Lusia nodded, "They really do look like that."
Chine said, "But what could they eat to grow so large?"
Lusia shrugged, "Well, I don't really know how they compare to dragons, but they are quite huge. I understand that elephants are herbivores, though. So they probably just eat tons of grass and leaves."
Chine said, "An herbivore? You're kidding! I've never heard of a creature getting so huge and not eating other creatures!"
Trile said, "Don't be so sure of that, Chine. Remember the sand worms in the expansive desert to the east? They don't live by hunting animals."
Chine said, "Yeah, I guess… but that isn't what I've heard. Well, I guess Sis does know better than me…"
At this point the maids came in with lunch, and Meilon. The maids got busy setting the table and bringing in the dishes. A nice aroma soon filled the room from the meal. Meilon walked over to Trile and stood silently by as lunch was being brought out. Trile looked up at him and said, "Ah, Meilon! That was fast! You must've worn out the steed, going at such a speed!"
Meilon shrugged, "I got a new steed for the way back, and a message from his majesty, Prince Kallan."
Trile said, "I expected this, I suppose we've been invited to dinner at the castle?"
Meilon said, "Well, I have an invitation, but it is only for Lusia. My orders were to hand it to her personally to make sure she gets it." He shrugged, "Seems like the prince has been under a lot of stress lately, what with the rebellion and all…"
Lusia stood up. "All this for me? It seems a little silly."
Meilon walked over and handed her the invitation. "I'm sorry that your family can't come with you, I don't know why the prince gave those orders. It really isn't like him. But, I suppose they can at least see you to the castle. Anyway, the prince will send an escort from the castle. They'll be here in about four hours, so you had best be prepared by then."
Trile looked surprised, "It's tonight? That seems rather abrupt."
Meilon said, "There was a casual ball being held, so I suppose that means that His Majesty will be taking miss Lusia as his date."
Lusia took the invitation and thanked the messenger. Meilon nodded, and left. Then Lusia looked at Trile, "An invitation to a castle… from a prince, no less. You weren't kidding about that! But how will I… what will I say… and why can't you come with me?"
Trile said, "Not to worry. Prince Kallan is a decent person, I'm sure he will understand your position. I hear that he is still single, so he might just be doing this to keep me from getting between you two." Trile chuckled a bit, "Not that I would have any objections should you fall madly in love with the good prince, now." Trile winked.
Lusia looked embarrassed, "But… but I just… I don't know if I would be ready for such a… commitment. Even if he is good looking, and rich, and powerful. I'd like to sort things out before I do anything else. Can't I ask him to have the dinner at another time?"
Chine said, "I dunno… I suppose you could refuse to go, but it might not be such a good idea. For one thing, you don't want to offend the prince. Besides, he always throws the best parties! Even if you don't go to meet the prince, you should at least go for the food and the fun!"
Zora said, "Yeah, this is a chance that most nilves would kill for! You get to have a wonderful feast, mingle with royalty and knights, and I hear that the prince's new ballroom is gorgeous!"
Lusia looked doubtful, "I suppose you're right… but this could have come at a better time… I don't even know what he's like."
Zora said, "I've never met him myself, but everyone says that Prince Kallan is absolutely dreamy."
Trile said, "Well, I won't force you to do anything you don't want. For now, let's eat lunch, and then we'll have to get you ready for the dinner."
By this time the maids had already set out lunch and taken their respective places at the table, so plates and bowls containing the various dishes were passed around. The dishes mostly consisted of various cooked or raw vegetables, lightly seasoned with herbs and spices. Lusia decided to take a little of everything to see how she would like it. Then she began to slowly eat one dish at a time. Trile and Chine ate with gusto. Zora ate with a little less enthusiasm, and Rait was eating slowly but took huge bites from his food. The maids ate very small meals. Presumably they had already eaten some of the food that they had been preparing to make sure of the quality. After the meal was over, Trile said to Lusia, "Well, from your expression I presume that you found the meal acceptable."
Lusia said, "It was very good, thank you. It is a lot like the food I'm accustomed to eating. I particularly liked the cucumber salad, it was just like the kind that mom used to make. But, there wasn't any meat. Are you Nian vegetarians, perhaps?"
Trile seemed to be interested in this subject, "No, actually. But we don't eat meat very often. Its just too expesive these days. Except for fish."
Lusia looked surprised. "You don't eat fish?"
Trile shook his head, "No, we eat plenty of fish, when we can get it. But it has been getting harder to get fish lately."
Chine said, "Yeah, the Merkin have been expanding their domain of late. They keep moving in closer to our coastal villages, and they don't like people going out on boats and fishing over the open waters. There's been some bad blood between them and us, especially since the Merkin are so paranoid."
Lusia asked, "And what are these Merkin? Are they some kind of monster, or something?"
Chine replied, "No, the Merkin are an aquatic race of elves. They can breathe underwater and have webbed feet. Some people claim that they can turn into fish, but I think that is just superstition."
"Oh, I see… So then they have this underwater kingdom?"
"Yeah, but like I said, they are paranoid. They don't want to have much of anything to do with us 'surface-dwellers'. Lately they have been moving in closer to our coastline, stirring up trouble and raiding villages. Because of that, a lot of people have been moving inland and it's getting harder to find fish. Of course, they do have trade with us. They give us trinkets from the sea, fish, and seaweed. In return, they want metal stuff and glass, and fruit."
Trile said, "In fact, haven't you seen a few Merkin, Chine?"
Chine said, "Yes, twice." Then he noticed Lusia's questioning look; "I work for a merchant. We traveled to many places, and twice we traded with Merkin merchants. The Merkin did their business quickly, and only spoke to haggle with us. When the trading was over they left very quickly."
Lusia said, "Exactly how many races of elves are there? You've mentioned three races: Nian, High, and Merkin. Are there more?"
Trile said, "There are four races of elves that we know of. The three you mentioned, plus the Dein. And I've heard rumors of these 'Dark elves', but its probably just nonsense. We Nian have a strong empathy with the woodlands. The Merkin have a strong bond with the sea. The Dein are nomadic desert elves. They live in tribes and are more warlike than most other races of elves. Also, it is said that they have strong ties to the dessert, much as we have strong ties to the forests. Mainly we don't have much to do with each other since the great war. But they frequently fight amongst their tribes. They are always vying for supremacy and over the various oases across the desert."
Lusia said, "You said that all the races have a bond with their environment, but you didn't tell me what the High Elves have."
Trile said, "Well, the High Elves don't have a bond with any particular environment. But they have the strongest magic of any Elven race. Almost every one of them has magical powers, and many more of them than any other race are wizards."
Lusia said, "Oh, I thought they might be sky-elves, or something. But I guess that answers that." The maids began to clear off the table. Rait thanked Trile, "Thank you for letting me eat lunch with you, sir. The conversation was very interesting. And here's your book." He passed the old, sinister looking tome to Trile. "It almost looks like a scowling face on the cover. To be honest, the thing was giving me the creeps, it was! Maybe it was the book that affected the roses…"
Trile took the book and set it on his lap, "Don't be silly. I've never heard of such a thing."
Rait said, "But I've heard that wizards will sometimes booby trap their spell-books with curses!"
Trile held up the book, "First of all, this isn't a spell-book! And secondly, even if it was cursed I could easily counter-spell it! This book is safe."
Rait said, "And speaking of the roses, sir, you said that you would examine them after lunch right? Well, it's after lunch now so if you would please come to the garden…"
Trile sighed, "Alright, alright. You don't have to rush me now. Say, anybody want to see the great magician at work?"
Chine said, "No, thanks."
Lusia stood up. "I'll go. After all, the roses are right outside of my bedroom so if they were a threat to me I would like to know. Also, I'd like to learn about magic."
Trile stood up and stretched, "Very well, then. Let's go." Trile, Lusia, and Rait walked out of the room, through the hallway and out of the front door. When they opened the door they were greeted by a blast of warm air. Trile said to Lusia, "Right this way, around the back. And stay behind me, just in case."
They walked around the back of Trile's cottage, through a well-maintained garden. Lusia admired the eye-pleasing arrangement of flowers and shrubs, as well as the pleasant fragrance that was coming from them. She was almost tempted to go up and smell a few of the more exotic looking flowers, but decided to keep focused on the task at hand. When they turned the last corner, Trile and Lusia paused, surprised. The rose bushes were indeed the size of trees! The roses themselves were enormous, easily the size of plates, and the thorns were as long and sharp as daggers. The actual trunks of these plants were not visible, because there were too many leaves and branches in the way. The rose scent was overpowering as well. Rait said, "Well, here they are sir. They weren't like that this morning! How I'm ever going to trim these down I have no idea."
Trile cocked his head to one side, and began to examine the plants, peering at them intently, and even casting a few spells. He walked around and around one, checking first the branches, then the leaves, and finally the flowers. After about five minutes he took a few steps back, still watching the roses. Rait said, "Well, was it magic?"
Trile said slowly, "It was definitely magic, no question. They have been drastically altered, you almost couldn't call them roses anymore." Then he continued more excitedly, "The interesting thing is, this wasn't done by a spell!"
Lusia asked, "But if it isn't a spell, how could it be magic?"
Trile was getting very excited. "Spells are a controlled form of magic. That is, with a spell, the spell-caster exerts control over the forces he sets loose. But this, this was more like an undisciplined burst of magical energy, which is very different. For one thing, a spell always yields predictable results, which the spell-caster can influence. This result, on the other hand, was quite random. We might have had snap peas growing mouths and fangs…"
Lusia asked, "But what could have caused this?"
Trile shrugged, "It appears to have happened quite recently. Actually, about the time that… you… woke…up." Trile and Rait looked at each other, then at Lusia.
Lusia took a step backwards, "What, you don't think I did this? I can't do anything like this! I don't know how! I don't know anything about magic!"
Trile said, "It isn't really a matter of knowing how to do this. Like I said, this was a burst of uncontrolled magic. I've heard that very powerful magicians often had trouble as children, when their powers got out of control. It's possible that when you first came into this world… That's right, you were quite upset, weren't you? Maybe that is what caused it to happen. You felt somewhat threatened by the circumstances and maybe your powers… reacted!"
Lusia said, "So, then this could happen again, because I don't know how to control my powers?"
Trile said, "It's possible. I could be wrong about this, though. But if I'm right, then it will probably only happen when you get very upset, or angry, or fearful. Or this might have been a one-time thing. There is no way to be sure, and we don't even know how your powers might manifest a second time.
Lusia suddenly looked up, and gave a small cry of surprise. Trile looked over at her, "What? What is it?"
Lusia was pointing up above Trile's head at the rose bush, "It moved!"
"The rose, it moved! The branch was coiling around like a snake!"
Trile watched the plant for a few moments, "I don't see anything moving. Are you sure that your eyes weren't playing tricks on you?"
Lusia looked a bit miffed at this, "I know what I saw! The branch moved!"
Trile shrugged, "Maybe the magic hasn't worn off yet… I suppose this means that we shouldn't do anything about these roses until we fully understand how they're being altered. And since that is the case, Why don't we head back indoors for now, Lusia. Rait, keep an eye out in case anything else happens in the garden, ok?"
Rait nodded, "Yes sir, I'll do that. Anything happens, I'll tell you straight away!"
Lusia waved goodbye to Rait, "It was nice to meet you, Rait. And Trile was right about you being a great gardener; I love what you have done here."
Rait said, "Thank you, miss. It was nice to meet you too."
Trile nodded and started to walk back towards the cottage. Lusia waited a moment, trying to think of something to say, but she couldn't so she just ended up following Trile back into the cottage. He led her into what appeared to be a sitting room, with bookshelves covering one wall, and a table with upholstered chairs arranged haphazardly around it. The table had a sloppy stack of books on it, as well as several empty tea-cups. The room had the smell of musty books, and was somewhat dusty. Trile sat down on one of the chairs, and gestured for Lusia to take a seat as well. Then he opened the book that Rait had given him and began to study it, muttering to himself as he read. Lusia sat in one of the chairs, causing a cloud of dust to billow into the air, and slowly dissipate. The cloud of dust caused her to go into a fit of coughing. When she was able to speak again, Lusia commented, "It's a bit dusty, isn't it?"
Trile didn't look up from his book, "Yes, I told the maids not to clean in here because whenever they clean up the room they organize everything and I end up not being able to find anything."
After waiting for a while, watching Trile flip through the book as he muttered to himself, Lusia asked, "So, what is it that you are reading?"
Trile looked up for a moment. "This is a book written about a study on a Thrani magician that had a similar problem to yours. I learned about it only recently and I thought it might shed some light on your present situation."
Lusia said, "And by my problem do you mean the body jumping thing that you were telling me about earlier?"
Trile said, "Of course. It is called egomancy, the magical alteration of one's self. It is different than metamorphosis, though a few powerful wizards have been able to master aspects of this power without being born to it, as you were. But the means of controlling this ability are a complete mystery to most people, and those who learned the secrets have closely guarded this knowledge since the ability can be quite dangerous."
Lusia said, "I see… I suppose I should thank you for looking into this for me. Maybe I can find a way back. By the way, have you arranged for me to learn Nianic? I know that the necklace you gave me will allow me to communicate while I wear it, but I won't be able to rely on it forever."
Trile was about to answer Lusia when the green-haired maid and Zora walked into the room. Trile looked at them and said, "Ah, what do you ladies need?"
The maid said, "We need Lusia. We're going to do her hair so that she looks presentable for his Highness."
Trile said, "Very well, then." Then he went back to reading the book.
The green haired maid got behind Lusia and began to drape her hair over the back of the chair. The maid asked Zora, "How do you think we should do her hair? I think we should do her hair like Nelime did hers."
Zora said, "No way! First of all, that would be inappropriate for the occasion. And anyway, I think you should do something simple, we could just comb out her hair and let it loose. Or we could braid it."
Lusia protested, "Hey, what do you think you're doing? My hair is fine the way it is!"
The maid said firmly, "Not for a trip to Kallan's Castle. You'll need to look your absolute best." She began to comb out Lusia's hair, making her wince. "But I must say that I like the idea of braiding Miss Lusia's hair. It's simple, yet elegant. Maybe we should add a ribbon!"
Zora and the maid spent the next few hours preparing Lusia for the party, braidng her hair, choosing accessories and making adjustments to her outfit, and when they were done they had Lusia stand in front of a large mirror to admire their handiwork, and she gave her approval, though she looked somewhat strained. Zora confided, "I'm very envious, Lusia. I would love to meet the Prince!"