Forever and Always

A Catharsis

Jared sat alone in his cold bedchamber, the war had been won and his people freed from the opressive worries of a mortal enemy. Even the elves had been rejoined with the humans! Although, somehow, Prince Mythos was not happy. With all of the wondrous gifts that had been bestowed upon his people, he should have been joyous, but something still pulled at his mind, something was missing. Jared knew perfectly well what dampened his mood, the fact that Ellriand could never see this unity that the races of man and elf now shared.

The prince released a shuddering breath and tied his much longer hair into a sleeping braid, walking to the window to watch the newborn stars. He didn't know why it still bothered him, it had been nearly 10 years since the war ended and the charismatic elf was lost. The man sighed deeply and stared up at the sky in a lost fashion, asking them for a reason, perhaps the elven 'Star Mother' would finally choose to answer him now. Then he snorted and glanced away, she hadn't answered him before in all the ten years he had asked, so why should she now? A sudden cold at his back startled him out of reverie and Jared turned about sharply, "Who's there?"

The man nearly collapsed with shock at what he saw. Standing there in a beam of pale moonlight was a pale apparition, gauzy like silk, but startling in its realness. The King, undaunted, but chilled by the spectre, took a shaky step forward to examine the wispy being. It had no definite shape yet and it appeared no more than a silver mist in the pitch of night, but somehow, it called to the King, beckoning him forward. As he reached forward to touch it, to test its reality, the fog shifted like quicksand in the desert, revealing the being underneath.

Slender fingers reached up to caress the hand that had reached out, gripping it like a drowning man clinging to a lifeline. King Mythos looked upon the newly shaped face in childish awe just as a pair of intoxicating midnight eyes opened to contrast the pale alabaster face. Jared removed his hand from the spirit's grip and stepped back to take in the whole image, the ghost's gossamer hand still partially reaching out although the hand it had held was gone. The Human King's eyes went wide in almost joyous disbelief when he recognized the spirit for the first time, "Ell…" The elf smiled with tears in his ethereal eyes, his slender hands now clasped in front of him.

Jared approached without fear or apprehension this time, so eager was he to hold his dear friend again. As he wrapped his friend in a brotherly embrace, a voice, so like Ell's, but with the resonance of many speaking at the same time, whispering in mist met his ears, "King Jared Mythos, I have not long on your physical realm. I am glad to see you as well, but things must be said here and now or I fear they may never be cleared from the air." The king nodded seriously now, "Indeed Ell, such as why you changed your heart so suddenly. Why you sacrificed yourself without need."

The elven spectre cocked his head to the side and sat down on the bed bidding Jared follow suit, "Jared, my heart was changed because of you. Your words and actions gave my people a chance for catharsis, a chance to redeem themselves. When you took me as a friend and then freed me as though I had never belonged to you, you showed that the humans were indeed ready to accept us back into the world again. In a way, you are my people's saviour and it does my heart good to see the two races integrating so freely again." Jared looked deep into the almost wistful blue eyes that stared off into space blankly, " That still doesn't explain why you threw your life away!"

Gossamer hair shimmered and rippled as Ellriand shook his head, "Twas not thrown away King, but freely given in exchange as atonement." Jared leaned close and grasped an ethereal hand, "Ell, you needed not atone for anything, my heart still aches to think that you died needlessly." Ellriand's hand gripped the King's tightly, "Then let your heart ache no longer, I died to preserve the delicate balance of the future. Had you died then who would've held this country together? Made sure that the people of this country rebuilt to the glory that is today." Mythos looked lost and sad, "And what of your own people? What of the elves?" A warm, fatherly smile of reassurance, "Jared, my people had Damascus and Mathyus. My life was but a small price paid in the face of such blessings wouldn't you say?"

The King stood suddenly and walked over to the window, his fists gripping the sill as he watched the people below, "Not everyone is happy Ell." The elf was suddenly behind him, "And they will not be as long as living hearts have emotion. With each new dawn there will soon come twilight. It is simply the way things work and will continue to work until the end of time. I have known this since birth as have my brothers, they knew why I had to die and so also should you."

The elf waved a transparent hand in the air and before the astounded King appeared a great web of threads, all wound together like long lovers, "W-what is….—?" Ellriand retracted his hand to his side, "These are the Threads of Fate, they represent each living being and the balance they help to preserve. See this one," he motioned to one in particular that cut off sharply, "This particular one is mine. If you notice where it ends, it is in perfect alignment with all the rest, if it had continued on, it would have collided with this one here."

Suddenly his tapered finger came to rest on a particularly large one that came to twine with another and branch off into two separate paths, "This one is yours Jared. See here, it comes in contact with another? That is when you met your significant other, but this part here, this is yet to happen." He traced along the split in the thread with a sly smile on his face.

Jared stared at him for long moments afterward as the information slowly sunk in. Finally he looked over his shoulder to Ellriand, "Why did you show me this?" The elf shook his head and approached him, "It was the only way to get you to understand that what had to happen, had to happen. I want you to understand Jared, I never wanted to leave you or this world, but I was called to depart. It is time for your mourning me to end King for you have a long life to live and I will not let you spend it in sorrow." He reached over and kissed the King softly on the forehead, "Forgive me Jared Mythos, but I must depart."

Jared ran a hand through the elf's still-soft raven hair with a wistfully fulfilled smile gracing his rugged features, "I understand Ellriand of Moonholme. Thankyou." The elf's alabaster face was serene for the first time since Jared had first met him that fateful day in the gardens. Slowly, the lovely creature's form melted away into the mist once again and Jared was left alone, his heart light for the first time in a decade.

(*****)

Many months later, the Human King, Jared Mythos' wife blessed him with an angelic, golden haired son. As the King sat in the sterile room of white and gold with his newborn son laying placidly in his arms and his loving wife asleep in the clean bed, he could hear a soft sound. As he listened just a little harder, he could've sworn it was the laughter of an old friend.

Author's Ramblings

Well guys, NOW it is finished (or maybe it isn't, but at least Jared and Ell's part is.) I hope that this one made you guys not hate me as much for how the previous leg of the story ended (the plot-chibis made me do it! I SWEAR!) Anyway, please review to tell me how I did! Thanks y'all!