A/N: Alright, from here on out this is all brand new stuff! =o) Thank you very much to all my reviewers (all three of you **smile**). The song she sings in the beginning (the Song of the Faerie) is all mine! =o) She only sings a part of it, but I may use all of it at a later date. =o) Also, ArwenAria18 said she thought the Queen saying she 'never was good with affairs of state' seemed misplaced, but you see, she usually left everything up to her husband or took the nobles advice. She rarely had to come up with any 'royal decrees' herself. Also, you said things are happening a little quickly, but I tried to fix that as much as possible. I am trying to pace things, but this is an action/adventure story. =o) And sorry this took so long to put up, I have a lot of stuff on my hands. Hopefully chapter 4 will be up quickly. Okay, that's all. Please r/r! **AS**

Chapter 3: A Hidden Lineage

"In the woods there dwells a creature
No mortal can behold.
Her faerie grace and stunning gaze
Weakens the most bold..."

Elwyn groomed her horse, Korrim, whilst singing the Song of the Faerie. Her father had taught her a part of it, and she often sung it, especially when she was avoiding her royal duties.

"Alone she wanders empty paths
No one has ever tread.
The deer and birds watch over her
And keep her protected.

How she came there,
No one knows,
But this is how,
The story goes..."

"Your highness?"
Elwyn spun around and was faced with a nervous stable-hand. "Yes, what is it?" Elwyn asked as politely as she could.
"There is someone here to see you," answered the stable-hand haltingly.
Not another suitor, Elwyn groaned inwardly, but the stable-hand's manner made her suspect something worse.
"Very well, I'm coming," she said aloud, putting down her brush and leaving Korrim's stall. She hoped it was not an important visitor, for she had been in the stable all morning and was far from presentable. Not that I mind, but the nobles would have a fit, she thought with a grin.
She strode swiftly into the hall and immediately a disheveled, anxious peasant rushed up to her.
"Milday, you must help us!" he squeaked, his eyes full of fear.
"Alright, but what is wrong?" Elwyn asked, slightly startled.
"Raiders!" he cried. "Raiders from the North! They have crossed the Northern border and destroyed my village!"
Elwyn sighed wearily and slumped into her throne. The Raiders had lived in the mountains as long as anyone could remember, but lately they had been crossing their border and raiding Sargoth's villages for apparently no reason.
"General, take some troops and go back to this man's village. Do not fight the Raiders unless you are forced to. Also, see if you can capture one of them. I would like to find out why they are doing this."
"Yes, Milady." The General bowed and left the hall to gather some soldiers and supplies.
"Sorell, take this man to a room and let him rest. Bring him food and drink, and new clothes if he wishes them."
Sorell, a servant girl, bowed and led the grateful peasant away. When they were gone, the nobles approached, frowns on their faces.
"Milady, these Raiders are becoming a problem," one of the nobles said grimly.
Elwyn sighed and rolled her eyes. "I know that, Genet! But what can we do? Our messengers cannot pass through the mountains, and we cannot start a war with the Raiders until we try peace first."
The nobles fell silent, for once at a loss for words. Taking advantage of her opportunity, Elwyn rose quickly. "I must go think about this, I will speak to you all later."
Turning swiftly she strode quickly from the hall. As soon as she was outside, Elwyn stopped and leaned against the castle wall with a sigh of relief.
What is wrong with me? she thought angrily. I can't stay in a building for many than ten minutes without feeling claustrophobic! Every time I'm inside I act like a dog anxious to be released for the hunt. Elwyn pushed her blonde hair back from face and glanced to the East wall. The green tops of trees were barely visible over the high ramparts. Ah yes, but another mystery, Elwyn thought with a sigh. She had always loved the woods and had often gone in there with her father, but lately it was like they consumed her. If she was not in the woods, they were in her mind, filling her with an uncontrollable urge to run into the woods and stay there forever.
"I think this wolf stuff is getting to me," Elwyn muttered, heading towards the stables.

Eliya strode through the royal gardens, trying to reach a decision. I should tell her, she has a right to know, but what will happen when a tell her? I do not think I can keep her here anymore, but is it safe to let her go? Eliya sighed and glanced up the sky. I know what Azul would do, and I always trusted him. I just wish there was another way. With a sad shake of her head, Eliya left the gardens in search of her daughter.

"Just a minute," a voice called from Korrim's stall. Presently Elwyn appeared, covered in dirt. "Sorry, Korrim was rolling in the dirt again and -"
Eliya cut her daughter off with a smile and a shake of her head. "Come with me, I need to speak with you."
With an absent-minded brush at her filthy pants, Elwyn followed her mother. What could she want to talk about? The Raiders? She has that look in her eyes, the one she gets when she thinks about father. I wonder what's wrong.
Her musings were cut short as she and her mother reached the gardens. Her mother sat down on an ornately carved bench and motioned for Elwyn to join her. Elwyn sat down slowly, watching her mother's face closely.
"Elwyn, there is something that I must tell you. Something I probably should have told you a long time ago," Eliya said quietly.
Elwyn looked at her mother warily. "What is it?"
Eliya took a deep breath. "Your father is not from Sargoth. He comes from the land of Layre."
Elwyn stared at her mother, wide-eyed with shock. "What do you mean father is not from Sargoth?" she asked shakily. "And what, where, is Layre? I have never heard of it."
"Nor will you," her mother replied. "It passed out of men's knowledge many years ago, reduced to a mere legend mothers tell their children."
"You never told me," Elwyn said accusingly.
"That is because I knew the tales were true and I was afraid of what might happen if you heard of the land," her mother said apologetically.
"And just what might happen?" Elwyn pressed.
Eliya sighed wearily. "Nothing that has not happened already. I can see that you have come to dread the castle, spending your time outdoors and in the woods especially." Elwyn shuffled her feet but said nothing. "It is not your fault, nor is it a part of the curse. It is your Layrien blood."
"Just who, or what, are the Layriens?" Elwyn demanded. "Father looked just like a Sargothin to me."
"Of course he did!" Eliya laughed. "The Layriens are part human, so they do resemble us."
"And the other part?"
My dad was part faerie... this is too weird, Elwyn thought, trying to make sense of all her mother was telling her. "Let me get this right, I have faerie blood in me?"
"Yes, but more importantly you have Layrien blood."
"What's the difference?"
"I am not sure, but it has something to do with the mixture of Faerie blood and the blood of Men," Eliya said, trying to remember what Azul had told her.
"So what are the Layreins?" asked Elwyn. "Where do they live? What are they like?"
"They are a people of the forest," Eliya said, shrugging her shoulders. "They are skilled warriors and their King and Queen are supposed to have as much power as the faeries. They control the woodland realm of Layre."
"Where is Layre?"
"You know the woods to the East? The ones you love so much?" Elwyn nodded. "If you enter the woods and head North you will come to the Exiar River. That is the boundary of Sargoth. If you cross the river and enter the woods on the other side, you will be in the Kingdom of Layre."
Elwyn frowned. "I have been to the Exiar many times, the wood opposite looks the same as the one in Sargoth."
"That is because the Layriens no longer live on the outskirts of their kingdom. They keep to their capital deep in the forest's heart."
Elwyn sat quietly for a few minutes, dwelling on all she had been told. At last she spoke. "Okay, why did you keep this from me, why are you telling me now, and how, why, did father come here in the first place?"
Eliya smiled wearily. "I kept it from you to protect you. A Layrien's heart, even a half-Layrien, is always in the forest. I thought if I kept it from you, you would stay away from the forest. I am telling you now because I see that you have fallen in love with the woods anyway, and you deserve to know the truth." Eliya took a breath. "Now, as for your father, he was a rather adventurous Layrien. He was the fifth son of a peasant, and as such he often wandered, exploring the woods and studying creatures. He knew little of the world of Men, but that little bit intrigued him and created a desire to know more. So, taking his few possessions, he traveled through his woods to the Exiar river. He found a crossing and entered the East Woods. He came out near the castle gate, but I fear his first glimpse of the world of Men was not pleasant."
"Why?" Elwyn interrupted.
Eliya smiled. "I was about to tell you. The reason was he came out in the middle of a battle. You see, Salaron was not always as evil as he is now. At one time he was advisor to the king, but he began to desire the throne for himself. He tried to get the princess to marry him, but she saw through him. Furious, he decided open rebellion was the only option left. So he gathered an army and marched on the castle. It was during the battle that ensued that Azul arrived. Not a very good first impression, wouldn't you agree?"
Elwyn nodded. "But wait... you were the princess, right? Salaron tried to marry you?!"
Eliya grimaced. "Unfortunately."
"Well, what happened next?" Elwyn pried eagerly.
"What happened next was complete pandemonium," Eliya said with a shake of her head. "Everyone was preoccupied with staying alive, and took no notice of Salaron and the king who were fighting a slightly uneven fight, since Salaron was using magic. My father probably would have fallen if it had not been for Azul. He drew his sword and charged straight at Salaron, drawing the wizard off my father. Even the lowest Layriens must have a bit of power, because Azul was able to withstand Salaron's magic and at last Salaron was forced to flee. But he swore he would have his revenge.
"Azul was praised as a hero, and when he and I fell in love, my father had no objections. Axul told only me the truth about his past, and I asked him not to tell you or the others until you were older."
"How much older?" Elwyn asked, raising a suspicious eyebrow.
"Well... he did tell your brother."
Elwyn's eyes widened. "You let him tell Erwin but not me?"
"He was seventeen when he found out, and you are seventeen now," Eliya pointed out.
"True," Elwyn sighed. "Well, what do I do now?"
"That is for you to decide," Eliya said quietly. There was a long silence. "The sun has almost set."
Elwyn looked up and saw that what her mother had said was true. "Time to explore," she said with a half-hearted smile. "See you in the morning, mother."
Elwyn rose and walked towards the wall and the East gate; the one that led to the forest. I know not what you will do, Eliya thought sadly. I only hope you will decide wisely.

End Chapter Three