“Where did you get the raspberries?” Larien asked Eärwen as they swung in the breeze high in a tree.
“The usual place,” Eärwen replied nonchalantly as she popped another berry into her mouth.
“You realize, Dweena is going to catch you red-handed, with your fingers in her stash of berries, one of these days, “Séreméla warned Eärwen. “I can guarantee she will retaliate.”
The three friends had strung hammocks high in one of the young Sentinels and were relaxing as they ate Dweena’s berries.
“Do you mind if I take some home for my mother?” Larien asked.
“There is going to be lots left,” Eärwen replied. “And we all know how much Serenity loves raspberries.”
“Do you think she knows where they come from?” Séreméla asked, out of curiosity.
“Probably,” Larien answered. “Mother is on to most of our tricks. She just smiles and shakes her head at me.”
“Does she know about your new talent yet?” Eärwen asked.
When Eärwen came home, after the planting ceremony for the new Talisman was finished, Larien was waiting for her with news. She was developing a new talent; one that Serenity had developed when she was approximately the same age. She was beginning to be able to communicate with all the Dragons. The talent was one that was causing her anxiety, for when a second Elf developed a major talent of that type, it usually signaled the change of leadership. She understood that would be a long time before it was suitably developed, but there it would reach its potential, and the fates would act upon it. At this point, she was glad that it seemed to be tied in with the younger generation of Dragons, who wouldn’t be mature for the next two to three thousand years. Nevertheless, she wasn’t happy about the implications, for it was not only a sign of a change of leadership, but was usually a sign that the current White Dragon was beginning to fail. She couldn’t begin to imagine a world without Alleria. She worried about what losing Alleria could mean for her mother, as the two were so heavily bonded as Generals. She was afraid that when one went, the other might follow in the way of Life Mates, although, it might not work the same way. She didn’t want to lose either of them, no matter how far off that might be in the future. She wasn’t about to let her worries bother her now though, because things could change, and she might be obsessing for no good reason.
“I would be shocked if she didn’t.” Larien replied. “Alleria tells her everything and she would be aware of the changes. They didn’t break their bond, despite father’s objections.”
“Is he still feuding with Alleria?” Eärwen asked curiously.
“I think it is more of a game with those two than a feud.” Larien admitted.
“Mom and dad like to play games like that. But with them, it always ends up in the same place.” Eärwen was sure her friends knew what she was talking about. They were adults with parents too.
“What is it like now that Ennacas has left home?” Séreméla asked.
“Quieter for one. She isn’t running around in a panic, and screaming at me all the time.” Eärwen replied.
“Most of the things she was panicking about were things that you did,” Séreméla pointed out before adding. “She would screech because you drove her to it, like you do to Dweena with her berries.”
“With the way Ennacas used to carry on, you could have sworn I was interested in Endiku.” Eärwen replied.
“Wouldn’t have blamed you if you would have been.” Séreméla answered back. “Ennacas has one yummy looking Elf for a Life Mate.”
“I personally prefer Eöl,” Larien admitted. “That is one hot Elf. I could sit and dream about waking up next to a man like that all day.”
“You must know a lot about him; after all, he spends every chance he gets sparring with your father. What do you think of Eöl?” Séreméla asked.
“He is all right I guess. I can’t say I have paid much attention to him. He is father’s friend, not mine. As for the rest, I have better things to do with my time than moon after some old Elf.” Eärwen replied with her trademark indifference.
“What could be better than watching Eöl?” Larien asked, before heaving an exaggerated sigh. “He is such a hot looking Elf.”
“Are you sure you don’t have a thing for old men, Larien? I never noticed that about you before. If you think he is so great, perhaps you should check to see if he is your Life Mate. Who knows, you might be lucky.” Eärwen snipped back. She was beginning to get tired of Larien’s infatuation. Eöl was all she ever seemed to talk about, although Eärwen knew she wasn’t serious. Larien just liked the look of a well-developed Elf.
“I wish, and I already checked. Nothing. Such a disappointment, and he isn’t that old, I checked on that too, he is just the right age for us.” Larien replied with another exaggerated sigh.
Eärwen rolled her eyes at Séreméla, and Séreméla giggled. She was having fun. She also knew something Eärwen didn’t. After five hundred years of laying traps and staying up late trying to catch her, Dweena had finally caught sight of Eärwen rifling her raspberry stash, and was planning some revenge. She had no idea what her sister had in mind, nor did Dweena, probably, but it would be a good one when it happened.
Dweena smiled secretively as she walked down the trail that passed under the Sentinel that the girls were in, and she wasn’t alone. She had met up with Eöl along the way and, they were talking as they headed towards Gabriel’s. She was plotting, as she looked for a way to pay Eärwen back for all those years of lost sleep and berries. She had no idea what she was going to do yet, but she was working on it, and the sound of voices coming from the top of the tree was giving her some delicious ideas, starting off with sending one, too smart for her own good, berry stealing Tratchar, flying through the air and off the hammock in the tree. She wasn’t worried about hurting her cousin. Eärwen was very good at taking care of herself. If there were plants around, there was no chance that she would get hurt.
“One moment,” Dweena stopped, as she pulled the bow from out of its carrier. She nocked an arrow, aimed it at the end of one of the hammocks above, and let the projectile fly.
“What are you doing?” Eöl yelled. He was horrified by what Dweena had just done. Someone could get hurt falling that far from a tree.
The arrow flew true and, Dweena gave a short hoot of victory, as it severed one of the ropes that were securing the head of one of the hammocks to a branch. The occupant gave a startled yelp, as her perch gave a twist, and she flew through the air.
Larien and Séreméla, looked over the edges of their hammocks and watched, as Eärwen plummeted towards the ground. They grinned, as they saw Eöl brace himself, to catch the falling Elven maiden, and knew that their friend wouldn’t get hurt, not if Eöl was there to catch her.
“That went well,” Séreméla noted, as Eärwen safely landed in Eöl’s arms.
Larien quickly shushed Séreméla, so she could hear Eärwen’s reaction below.
Eärwen gave a sound, as most of the air seemed to be driven from her lungs on impact with something solid. She opened her mouth to thank the Elf who had caught her, and looked into the brightest pair of silver blue eyes that she had ever seen.
“No,” was the only word Eärwen spoke, as she flipped out of Eöl’s arms and took off for home on the run.
Séreméla and Larien exchanged another look, this time of shock, as the biggest smiles they ever saw crossed both Eöl, and Dweena’s faces. A moment later they threw themselves back on their respective hammocks and burst into laughter.
“Did you see the look on Eärwen’s face when their eyes met?” Séreméla gasped between peals of laughter.
“Life Mates,” Larien managed to speak, between bouts of her own laughs. “Couldn’t happen to a better couple.”
“Eärwen didn’t look very happy about it,” Séreméla pointed out.
“Give her time to get used to the idea. Eöl looked happy enough for the both of them. I am sure he will find a way to get around her objections.” Larien sounded pleased.
After Eöl left to follow Eärwen, Dweena climbed to the top of the tree, to join her sister and friend. She retied the end of Eärwen’s hammock to the limb she had knocked it from with her arrow, and made herself comfortable, while she joined the conversation.
“Did you see the look on Eärwen’s face? I thought her eyes were going to pop out of her head. She then shot me a look of disbelief, as if she didn’t think I would consider doing something like that to her. Silly girl.”
“Did you suspect that they might be Life Mates?” Larien asked.
“No, but I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised. I have never seen any two Elves better suited. I don’t know how they escaped noticing that connection before, Eöl and Uncle Gabriel spend a lot of time together.” Dweena answered.
“So now what?” Séreméla wanted to know.
Dweena shrugged a shoulder carelessly, as she replied, “I guess this means we get to watch the fun.”
“You believe you have pulled off the match of the century, don’t you?” Séreméla asked.
Dweena answered. “You know, I just might have? They make such a cute couple.”
“You think you are going to get away with your little trick?” Larien asked.
Dweena replied. “Nope. She is going to come back at me like a tigress. I am such a dead Elf.”
“You don’t look very worried about it,” Séreméla noted.
Dweena laughed as she answered. “Our cousin is going to have her hands so full with that male Elf, she isn’t going to have much time for anything else for a long time.”
Larien gave a playful groan as she complained, “Dweena, the picture you painted in my head with that remark borders on sinful. I am so jealous.”
“Ha,” Dweena came back at her. “As if you really care, although I have to admit, he really is one hot Life Mate. By the way, do either of you know where she put the rest of the raspberries?”
“We ate them all,” Larien lied shamelessly, as she popped the one last berry into her mouth for emphasis, before replacing the cover on the basket of berries that she had planned to take home for her mother.
“There is no way you gluttons could have eaten all those berries. You would be sick. Cough them up, Larien,” Dweena ordered.
“In your dreams,” Larien’s response came back at Dweena.
“You are asking for it.” Dweena warned.
“So what are you going to do to me?” Larien taunted, “knock me out of a tree and into my Life Mate’s arms? If so, go for it. I am willing.” She knew Dweena would back down from the challenge, she always did.
“You wish,” Dweena replied. “I am more apt to drop you on Danith, you know what a crush he has on you.”
“He would be more apt to blush than anything else. I could think of worse fates.” Larien knew her indifference would bother Dweena, and that particular cousin could use getting a little of her own medicine back, she was always pulling pranks on others.
“I will think up something to even the score if you don’t give me back those berries.” Dweena warned seriously.
“Get your birds to bring you more.” Larien advised. She was not going to give up those raspberries; they were going home with her for her mother, and that was that.
“I will ruin your next tryst.” Dweena resorted to blackmail.
Séreméla watched the two friends spar with interest. She wondered who would come out the victor. Dweena won more arguments than she lost on the average, but seldom against Larien.
Larien got tired of the threats quickly and decided to bring them to a halt. “I am warning you, Dweena. Give it up or I will get Dreck to flame your new dress. The one you keep saying you like so much.”
Larien knew that as far as dresses go, Dweena loved that new one more than any other she had ever owned. Dweena would back off. She wasn’t stupid, and she knew that Larien could back her threat. Dweena also knew that Dreck was the only Dragon that could still fit into her closet to get the job done.
Dweena sighed and let the issue drop. For the moment, she was one up on Eärwen. That would have to satisfy her. Challenging Eärwen was one thing, taking on Larien was another matter altogether. You had a good idea how Eärwen would react, as her attacks came at you head on. Larien could be a dirty fighter, if she felt cornered, and her manner of fighting was to take no prisoners.
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