Chapter 8

"I have come here before you, King Zepher to swear my allegiance to you and to only you, though I ask that neither my family nor those of Melthron Valley learn that I have come to you and you alone to ask to train within your army." Eristan bowed deeply before the King who stood on his dais waiting with a proud smile for the young Elf to stand up to receive the small pendant that would mark him as a soldier of the Northern Region. The pendant was nothing special though on a silver chain and tiny the soldiers were not required to wear the mark openly unless if on foreign soil. Eristain stood and looked into the eyes of his leader with fierce determination.

"Young Nhal' Darthint you have been accepted though you will become a great warrior and a scout for the army so that your training will not be revealed to those you wish to hide it from. You will become a spy for me eventually but until such a time you will learn the quickness of a ranger, the strength of a warrior and the intelligence of the mages. Now stand and receive your official mark of your rank." Eristain leaned forward and allowed the King to drape the pendant around his neck. He stood back and bowed again before being dismissed with kind strong crystalline azure eyes. Eristain left the audience chamber of King Zepher and headed to the mages tower of the South end of the fortress that was so vast that most called it a palace. The corridors though constructed out of large slabs of stones were warmer by far than most stone structures thanks to the mages of the South Tower who lit the corridors with magical fire that gave off more heat than light. The stones on the walls between the huge windows covered with tapestries and paintings of the history of the Eldar. One could stare at the paintings, tapestries for hours at a time, and still not know what was going to happen in the future. Unlike other cultures of the elven races, the Eldar had only one thing occur occasionally in history and that was war, though the reasons and the causes and effects of those wars were all ways different and very few were connected to one another other than both were in the history of the Eldar. Most of the paintings were of important people during the old days and many still did not know why in some of the paintings there were odd markings on either the elf depicted or in the background. There was all ways an artist working on such painting when they would begin to chip from the heat of the mage's fires or even an artist working on a new addition to the history. The life of the artist was shorter than most but their family's life would be long and worth the sacrifice of the artist. As the youngest Nhal'Darthint walked along one painting in particular made Eristain stop in his footsteps. It was one of the very first ones in the corridor that held an image of one of his ancestors on a parapet holding aloft a magnificent black and blue flamed sword. The scene was so accurately depicted that Eristain could pick out the color of the warrior's eyes, the orbs were silver just like his! As far as the young Nhal' Darthint understood there was no one in his family line that anyone cared to mention had the same silver eyes that he did, and he had never heard of such a sword either.

"Interesting isn't it, the things that people don't care to tell us about?" Eristain turned slightly to his right catching the outline of the prince with a book in his hands and leaning against the window ceil close to the young warrior.

"What do you mean?" Eristain asked Khellin the young prince who was as knowledgeable as anyone he knew but also just a pesky as a young elfling could be.

"This painting, is not of the past, but of the future in what the oracles and all of the mages have predicted. Though why they put it here with all of the heroes of the past is unknown to all except for the deities honestly. As far as I can tell it has to be a Nhal'Darthint and it has to be the only one we all know about who is stubborn, strong headed and very determined to finish anything and everything that he gets involved in. Oh and he has silver eyes. And, unless if I am mistaken that is you." Khellin said pointing his quill at Eristain. Eristain turned back to the painting and looked at the date at the bottom of when it was painted.

"It was painted over two thousand years ago."

"Before you were born and before your parents were old enough to understand the meaning. Right, and both of your parents have seen this painting as well as you older siblings, and yet no one has ever dared to tell you huh?"

"Yeah, this is the first time I have even heard of this, or for that matter seen it."

"I am so sorry my young friend, but well, at least now you know. Though the real reason I came over here was to ask you if you'd like to join me for some pie?"

"Pie, your highness?"

"Oh poppy cock and throw it out the window, I am nothing more than a humble man who unfortunately has royal loins, just call me Khellin and we will be grandiose friends. And, yes pie." The prince grinned at the young Black who was half of Khellin's age even if Khellin did not act his age one bit.

"All right, Khellin, what kind of pie?"

"That is an excellent question, I guess we will find out when we get to the kitchens aye?" Khellin winked and grabbed the right arm of his newest friend and spun the young Nhal'Darthin around easily and led him to the kitchens.

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"I don't care what those old geezers say, I am going to take over this government and turn it into a more powerful being than it has been since the beginning of this culture. Now bring me those maps and be quick about it. I want to know what that creature meant." The Queen seethed with agony dripping in her melodic tone that almost caused Nymeth to laugh because of the watery tone to her words that reminded the young blue haired elf of the mind flayers of the Abyss. Arigel clenched her fists as the thoughts of ultimate control took over her mind and the lasting thought of that deity had haunted her thoughts for several moons past drew blood from her palms. She did not want to loose. She would take her husband and that powerful family of the Nhal'Darthint down even if the entire government went with him and everything became chaos. Over the last few days, some of the council members were facing death of family and fortune if they did not comply with the Queen's demands; and others were all ready at the hands of the torture block and were like the Queen's personal slaves so long as they did not have to return to that torture chamber. If only the other council members were not as intimidated by the Queen's mood and her overall presence than the government of the Eldar people might run smoother Nymeth thought as he sat on his stool behind the desk right below the Queen's throne playing with is long hair absentmindedly wondering why the Queen was even awake at this hour. He silently wondered what kind of creature she was talking about to begin with. The High Councilor though decided that it was really none of his business but just in case he silently hoped, it had nothing to do with the mind flayers of the Abyss; just because those creatures were not even worth attempting to trouble with matters that did not agree to their own desires. The Queen was pacing back and forth barefoot before Nymeth and occasionally muttering something along the lines of 'damn ranger' or 'Nhal'Darthints will pay' or 'nosey deity.' Nymeth was not so sure at that point if the Queen was actually sane or not cause as far as Nymeth understood the ways of deities were to know everything about their people and thus meant to be nosey.

"Most salient to me is my conquest; but that is not what she meant is it?" The Queen suddenly said staring at Nymeth curiously wondering why he looked so confused suddenly.

"Milady, excuse my ignorance but who said this to you?" Nymeth asked wondering why he even bothering to put in the title in the first place.

"The demon in my dreams said that I have to find my most salient, but I do not understand what she means." Queen Arigel grabbed a hold of her tussled brown hair and threw it over her other shoulder letting the clasp on the end of the mussed braid clank against the metal arm bracelet on her left bicep.

"A demon milady, what did she look like?" Nymeth was much more curious now wondering if what his tutor had said about the demons. They only came to the Eldar to taunt the race back into the submission of the demons.

"Bottom half black scales with three toed feet; walked like a dragon with extreme grace. Top half elf-kin with horns on the top of her silver hair and her eyes were silver too. Hands were long and elf-kin like." Arigel pointed to herself physically as she was describing the demon. Nymeth began to wonder if the visitor in the Queen's dream really was a deity by the end of the description though cause as far as Nymeth knew there were no demons fitting that description in all of the knowledge of the Eldar though it is possible that a deity had disguised herself as a demon.

"What else did she say?"

"'That I shall not rule much longer, if I destroy what is in my way I may live longer than intended to.' I do not know what is in my way or even what is not in my way. Nymeth," Arigel sighed as she sat on his mahogany desk, "Why do the Black's have to have most of the influence, even the Whites have more influence than the royal family. What am I to do is the ships to do not arrive at the right time and place and the Black's discover something odd?"

"Milady, I am not so sure what you are talking about, what ships?"

"My allies that will help me stop the influence of the other strong houses from completely stepping over their bounds." the Queen answered with a forelorn look which confused Nymeth and a thought came to him that maybe the other council members knew exactly what the Queen was rambling about. Why would the other three houses step outside of the bonds that tied them to the culture of the Eldar? Is what the Queen says is true or has she suddenly become completely insane?" Nymeth wondered curiously as the other thirteen council members rushed in with parchment, ink, and maps galore in their arms. Nymeth nearly groaned at the thought that he would be spending the next several days pouring over maps and having no idea what in all of the deities the Queen was planning.

"'We have the maps from the Abyss that you wanted, milady."

'Maps from the Abyss, oh no not the mind flayers!' the curious thought caused a small grin the spread throughout Nymeth's handsome features and the midnight blue in his hair to suddenly flair with violet highlights. The high councilor of the Eldar was very amused with the idea of their even being maps of the unmarked territory of the Abyss.

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Hebrahlayith watched her mother curiously from the small alcove wandering what had driven her off of the deep end and into the Abyss itself. She fidgeted slightly with the hem of her nightgown still wondering what had caused her to come to this alcove in the first place. She studied the small group of councilors scuttling about around her mother pointing out different areas of the Abyss on the map. The young princess did not even know that such a map existed of that dark and mischievous world in the first place. She watched the high councilor in his typically bored fashion watch from afar with a small grin on his face as his elegant fingers flipped through the parchment of the old leather-bound book. He had pulled out of his desk while the other thirteen councilors were trying to figure out what kind of demon and what part of the Abyss the damn thing came from and she wondered if he might be about the answer the question that was burning the princess's mind.

"My Queen, I believe the creature you spoke with was a deity considering that she is not known by any of the people of the Eldar as a demon and there is only one deity that prefers that shape and form. The one demon deity of Daethica; she was once a demon many millennia before the time of Total Dominion and when she became a deity she was one of the lesser known and when the Total Dominion ended she became one of the most powerful deities of War and Hope.'" Nymen read carefully from the book in his hands. Hebralayith looked to her mother then wondering if she was sane enough to put the information together in her head.

"War and Hope you say? I did not know that she held presence over both and thrived in both. Are you quite certain that it is Daethica and not Klesmen?" Arigel asked in her normal sane voice that sounded like a songbird in the early morn.

"No it is not Klesmen, the goddess of the wind; no she does not like being half of something she is not. It is definitely Daethica. The Deity that the Nhal'Darthint family worships and all ways has worshipped since the time of Total Dominion." Hebrahlayith noticed the slight twitch in her mother's posture when the high councilor mentions the family that made her mother most agitated. Though no one knew why exactly; well maybe her father, King Zepher might know but other than that, no one knew why Queen Arigel disliked the kind yet mysterious Blacks.

"That explains why Dayono, was in my dream also and that dark elf who is all ways hanging around the Mansion. But that does not explain the white haired ranger." Arigel muttered aloud to herself not realizing that her daughter who loved Dayono, the eldest son of Zalkar Black, was listening to her. Nymeth too seemed to catch onto the interesting little tid bit about the oldest of the well-known children of Zalkar though it seemed from the strange expression on Nymeth's face that he thought there was someone else that the Queen was forgetting.

"Have Saifian search for all of the Rangers that are of the elves and have her find out what they all know of a silver haired and silver/green eyed ranger of their kin. Make sure that if she finds one fitting that description to bring them to me. I want a word with this ranger who is interfering with my sleep." Hebrahlayithe watched as her mother sauntered over to her throne and relaxed her tense muscles as soon as she sat down. As soon as Arigel relaxed, Hebrahlayithe scuttled backwards to the revolving panel behind her and easily slid back into the upper corridors of the Temple. The young princess was worried about her mother's mental health and if the queen was truly loosing her mind the more she worked toward a goal that not even her daughter could figure out. Though, she was wondering if her mother was also planning on getting rid of her father which could mean civil war between the Northern Region and Melthron Valley.

The young princess shivered at the thought of a civil war; and war in general, she did not like seeing blood even though she was desperately in love with her betrothed who was a great warrior and a member of the great family. How her life ended up with all of the interwoven twists is completely beyond the princess. Hebrahlayithe though was not as pompous and thick headed as her mother, in fact she was more like her father in the realm of politics; picking the right choices even if for herself they may not be as pleasant personally. Her mother, Queen Arigel on the other hand was completely obsessed with power and if her father had been in his right mind, then he may not have married the woman in the first place; but then again it was a betrothed couple. As she thought about marriage she nearly tripped on the stairs and fell down the entire flight but managed to regain her balance enough to float down the stairs to the bottom and to her favorite guard. The handsome Zahkora, her betrothed's best friend and the only guard who was willing to send a message to the Black's in the first place.

"Zahkora, I have some news that I'd like you to send to the Black's and let them know that it is about my mother and her insanity."

"Yes, Milady," the handsome blonde elf answered extending his hand to help her down the last few steps of the staircase.

"Thank you, Zahkora. Uhm, do you know when Dayono will be back?" the princess asked shyly, a small blush touching her skin. Zahkora gave her an amused look before answering.

"He told me a ten-day, but knowing him it won't be for another few days afterwards. Sorry milady but that will be a while." Zahkora smirked as she squirmed slightly with his words. Everyone knew of her obsession with the tall dark and handsome eldest son of Zalkar Black, and those who did not relish in the act of teasing her about it were hopelessly lost to some amusing entertainment that only the princess herself could provide.

...to be continued...