III: Where is Home?

Soundtrack: The LetterBlack Perfect

*it is possible for girls to be jealous, though Ren'erei was not portrayed like that in the novels. Dawnthief is awesome.

The archer, Ren did not like Jaren. She came back on the third week and glared when she noticed Jaren in the living room. "Hello! My love, just in time. Sit, let's have a nice meal together!" Ren gaped at her mate, the fast talking mage who cast spells, cooking! He was in civilian home clothes.

At the table, they ate together. Both women sat opposite each other. Ilkar did not notice the tension, ready to enjoy bonding time. When she spoke, it was not to her but at her, "How long is she staying?" Her tone was frigid.

She swallowed her food. "I won't impose very long. I will be on my way."

Ren smiled in satisfaction.

Ilkar cut in, frowning at Ren. "As long as I am here, no friends will be neglected or asked to leave. Jaren is my friend. " His hazel stare was firm and passionate. Ren fell silent, steaming. Rebraal did not say a word. So, he didn't remember pointing a knife at her. The Sandguardian was relieved until her mind supplied the reasons. Jaren's face reddened, the Major deities had warned her that when events changed drastically, conflicts would be more intense between the intervening was a minor player so he was least likely to be angry. Meaning to help the mage, she had also affected the people closest to him.

He changed the subject as he was the most chatty of them all. He talked about the weather, how situation had improved, people going to trade and asked if the meal was okay. "I spent quite a long time in the kitchen, with some friends' help."

His brother answered something, she nodded. Within, the new girl denied her fault- Yes,butIjustcouldnotletIlkardie.Notlikethelastlifetime.Whatisdonecan'tbereversed.

The topic swung back to her again.

The mage was still speaking to Ren, who was shouting back. The woman used curse words. "How can you fucking believe her? We've known the Raven ten years and more. Fought together. This one, less than a week, we didn't even see her before and up she pops! Are you blinded now? Love her more than me eh?"

He stopped being calm and retorted hotly. Rebraal shrugged.

Jaren quickly ate and went outside. Staying indoors would simply be awkward. Why couldn't Ilkar and her live together, just the two of them? No need for anybody. She shook her head. No, of course not. No matter how much he argued with the girl, Ren was and always would be his soulmate.

Ilkar had no appetite left. What a disaster! He couldn't explain to her, neither should he turn Jaren away! Bitter hurt that she'd doubt his friend and word, anger and sadness warred within. Then it subsided to resignation. Mentally , he softly hit his forehead.

What had possessed Ren? Couldn't she take pity on this poor lonely girl? Jaren is my angel!

"Women." His brother mused.

Ilkar smiled wryly. "And I thought humans are more emotional! When will you have one?" His brother refused. Both the males' leaf ears pricked in unison and they laughed a bit.

"Going after your girlfriend? Or shall I?" Rebraal offered. He was the only one who had finished his food. Ilkar scowled, all his cooking was gone to waste. How could he eat it all?

"No need. I believe they need space. Help me eat." Ilkar ordered him. They shared some companionable time. A little consolation.

Later night, he stepped outside, calling for Jaren.

But she was out of sight. His worry peaked. Had she run away?

Unwittingly, his telepathic voice reached the time traveller. She smiled and could read his anxious body language. She replied, I'mfine.Iwillcomebacklater.

Sure enough, the girl was back the next morning. She smiled at him, and jumped up from the chair on the other end of the room. "Good morning!" The elf replied the same.

Ilkar decided he would take her to a new place. She assumed it was related to their argument, about her imposition. That did not lessen the feel of rejection though. As they rode together, Jaren asked him.

"I am all right being alone. That has been my way."

The elf replied briskly, "What? No, I'm not sending you away… We're going to a special place. I need a break. And we can spend some time together!" She relaxed at his exuberance.

He waited a while before adding, "Look don't let what happened get to you. I didn't expect Ren to become unfriendly."

"Ilkar I'm sorry. I don't mind leaving."

"Don't talk about that. I trust you, even though we've not met for long. You're my friend too. Shush look! Over there!" He grinned, spotting a bird's nest. Jaren chuckled. They took turns to show the other who could spy animals better. Nature's wonders. Ilkar had great eyesight and funny commentaries, astute observations about how they nested. Soon the bitterness of the previous day had lifted. They dismounted to stretch their legs. Jaren watched him preparing a fire to make food. He could do it manually, and did not resort to spells. Then he cooked some food he had brought.

Jaren ate to accompany him. After they ate and rested, she asked him about magic. Ilkar pepped up. His most favorite topic!

Beginning with simple casting of mana to make a flame, Jaren also could hover, but for a limited amount of time. "Can I ever fly up to the tree, master?"

He laughed at this name and bowed. "Takes years of practice. Don't think about that yet. Learning is a process, to cherish. Don't be someone forcing magic and abusing powers to corrupt. Let it flow." He picked up a soft leaf and blew. "Like this leaf, magic can be bent, shaped. It is possible, even for me it is draining."

"I see. Um, how old are you?" She queried.

"Not a youth. Hope you will not mind. Sometimes I do tend to be longwinded." Ilkar said good naturedly. "And yourself? Twenty summers?"

"Um, I don't know. I have lived… many lifetimes." Jaren flushed. He was tactful enough not to press further and went on about his knowledge. How long did a mage take to train to become an expert? Hundreds of years, though a human lived a shorter span, he or she could still train regularly to reach the same standard. Ilkar could be old, but his voice and enthusiasm was youthful and vibrant. Ilkar could be old, but his voice and enthusiasm was youthful and vibrant.

"If you're interested, I don't mind sharing my knowledge….. " He talked more of mana sources, taking from plants, but not excessively, in moderation. "Different teachings give different lessons. There's Dordover, Lystern and Xetesk. I don't like the last one. Their methods are unorthodox. Such as using sacrifices to obtain energy and resurrecting the dead."

"Not really, I have seen some cultures that have blood sacrifices. I gather, Julatsa is the only way to go eh?" Jaren commented, smiling. He did not appear strict but on this opinion it couldn't be budged. He shuddered at her new information.

NoIdon'tmeanthat.His eartips reddened and he cleared his throat. "An example only. I would take too much time to explain everything. It's not recommended to learn from them."

When dusk fell, he said they would stop. He needed to sleep. Of course she did not need any. He soon drifted off. Jaren reached one hand to carress a dark strand adhering to his nose.. She could almost hear her lover's voice next to her, what is for dinner today?

Ilkar did look like him, with dark hair. She was content next to this elf and the illusion of love…

Hearing that musical voice, a tad lower than Ilkar's,askingherwhatwasfordinner,andhecouldn'tmoveanothermusclefromfatigue.Shehadbeenahe.Anxiouslyshehadurgedhimtorestandahealer.No,thatelfhadtoldher.Justaslightcold.Mynamethenwas-Cerelian.Cerelianrelivedtheregretsmanytimesover.Thenextmorninghewasgone.Thefaceswerejustashadow.Thencallinghisname,peopleledtoanotherhouse.Hehadcollapsedthereandnomorepulse.


Come back to me! Don't go! Jaren cried out and in this moment she gasped, crying.

Ilkar felt drips on his face, using his hand to ward it off. Why did it leak under a shelter? Crap! He cursed. Jaren couldn't stop, rubbing her eyes. The mage was still lying down and only roused noticing her distress. Gently, he touched her arm.

"Hey why are you sad?" He said some soothing words. Jaren's heart rippled. As an Observer, keeper of justice in the Sands she never had these emotions again.

She told him in snatches of faded memories. "The last day.. he looks like you." Ilkar nodded and allowed her to cry fully.

It must be very hard to accept the death. He had cheated death, and his friends had been very emotional about it too. Ilkar wished he could ease her pain more. "I won't leave you. Come let's see your smile." He coaxed. She sniffled.

He said the best thing to cheer one up was the sunrise. He had always slept past it. "Hm I need to keep warm." He used a cloak and they saw the golden glow fire across the horizon. Black turned to pale blue sky. So breathtaking! Ilkar didn't get enough sleep, so he lay down again.

"Wake me later. And kindly don't water on me."

Jaren still had to go on the missions when she was summoned. He had been looking for something inside their supplies. What a bother, she wanted every moment with him now! An instinct to disobey the rules popped up. But she didn't want to be banished to another realm.

"Sorry, I'll come back. It won't take long." She knelt and explained. He looked up, golden eyes wide.

"Oh. Will you be all right? Be careful."

"I will be. If I don't come back and supplies are down, it's ok to leave. I know my way." A Sandguardian had the natural talent of scouting. Ilkar wanted to wait. And he was sleeping on the fourth day, a little further down in a cave. It was warded from wild animals. Jaren smiled, kissing him.

"Oh about time. It was urgent?"

The mission had gone fine but someone higher than her got authoritative. The Major boss of the department assignments with a king's attitude. Jaren loathed him. He said the whole council disapproved of her attachment to the Julatsan and some serious consequences would be meted out. "Don't you hurt him! I have my duties. You have no right!" she'd attacked him with her blades. The man balked. Everyone hit its target but because they were immortals, did not die.