Ten years later.

Uthed glowered at his parents, who were bowed over a map and discussing something urgently. Well, parent: he had always known Areli was not his mother. Yet, she was the woman his father loved, the woman who had raised him, and – Four forgive him for that break with nature – the woman who had taught him to fight. He had seen his real mother, once. Well, seen her with a cloth over her face. For some reason her skin was purple, and he could never get a good answer why from his father.

A little girl with a ridiculous amount of black hair tugged on his sleeve.

"Bro-ther, I want Mother. Get Mother for me."

"They're busy, Netale. Go play with something for a few minutes."

Netale groaned dramatically. "But I need her to fight someone for me!"

"Do it yourself!" Uthed growled, going for a full minute before he'd realized what he'd said, and how naturally it had come to him. He turned about, trying to find his half-sister before she got herself killed.

"This is the wrong way, see? Fuathae is up here. If we want to get to the Maw, we have to turn-" Arduin was saying.

Areli laid a hand on his cheek, and spoke in the gentle tone she used to correct their children. "I love you, but you're wrong. We're going the right way. If we weren't, the Ranger over there would not be following us, and Netale would not be trying to fight him."

Arduin turned to look where his love was pointing. His face paled, much like his eldest son's did, when they saw the little girl waving a stick at the newly-appeared lar man frowning down at her.

"She's got her grandfather's arm," Areli said with a wistful smile.

"And her mother's trouble streak," Arduin grumbled. "Netale, love, come here. Don't bother the man with the knife."

"Look, you guys want some of this food or not?" Tolon yelled, waving a ladle at his friend's family. Armed men sat behind him, dubiously sipping at the fare.

"That depends," Areli said, arching a brow at him. "Did you cook it?"

"The best I've ever made," answered the trader.

"Then no, I don't think I want any," the woman said, absently laying a hand on her cheek.

Uthed pulled his small sister away from the Ranger, breaking her stick in half. How he had gotten into this situation, he did not know. Not that he was complaining.


AN: Thank you all very much for reading this! If you enjoyed this story, feel free to check out the other stories I've written in this same universe.

-Alexis