Chapter I ‘Standing in the Light’

CHAPTER I

A week after the celebration of the light festivities ended, Emperor Lothrariel ordered an emergency session of the Counsel of Kings in the meadow. As the last King took his seat, he confronted Lothrariel, “Why are we here again when we were told to go home only a day ago?”

It wasn’t Lothrariel that supplied the answer, but Eden as she approached with Gabriel by her side.

“I was told to send for the Kings by the Talisman,” Eden spoke to the counsel members. You will hear what we are to do from the Great Guardian herself.”

A soft feminine voice flowed through the minds of every Elf in the Empire. The message it contained was simple and to the point, “My people, the time has come to finish our task. The Empire must be made complete. Listen closely and I will tell you what needs to be done, for it is time my children were sent to their homes.”

No one had any doubt they were listening to the voice of the Great Guardian and they were awed by the purity of the love they could feel coming from deep within her soul. They didn’t question how this was happening either, for this was their Talisman and anything was possible. Even King Askandar couldn’t think of any circumstance when the ancient tree had spoken to the entire population of the Elven Empire. They had no idea what to think this might mean, or what had happened to bring it about. They needed to know more but, for now, the Talisman seemed to be content to leave them wonder.

As the Elven Kings sitting at the counsel table pondered the situation not one word was spoken, they knew there would be more forthcoming from the Talisman. For the moment, they were being allowed to come to terms with the idea that things were about to change again. All they could wonder was if the Talisman would speak to them as it had before, or if it would choose a different path? Why had it addressed the whole?

Again the voice spoke. “I want my people to know things are changing. They have a great responsibility to the world to perform. Yours is the task of caring for the next generations. You must raise them to be strong and wise so they can stand in the light as we do. To those whose services are required now, I will speak to them privately. These are my orders and you must follow them to the letter.”

“King Daroth,” The Talisman addressed him first. “You are to return to the Light Elven Kingdom. There, you will choose your finest Pegasus horses and send them to the leaders of the Kingdoms. There is no Talisman standing within their boundaries. They will rendezvous with us in the City of Torendal within the next few days.”

King Daroth didn’t say a word in return. He stood, bowed to the members of the counsel and left. He had a task to perform and no time to waste.

To the rest of the Kings of the Empire, the Talisman ordered, “You are to all return to your homes, except for those that have arrived from the lost lands. While you are there, you will each choose no less than ten families to accompany each of my children to their new homes. They will be expected to serve under the guidance of the Tratchars my daughter, Eden, and her High Lord General Life Mate choose. Each King will be expected to supply the most powerful and learned from amongst your people. If you do not possess the talents that are needed or specified, they will be chosen from another, but make no mistake, I expect my children to be raised by the best in the Empire. Clear so far?”

“Yes,” the singular word came from the Kings.

“Each family sent on this task will have a prime talent in the following talents,” The Talisman insisted. “Elementals. Healers. Wizards. Tree Elves. They do not need to be those that serve you, but I will expect great potential in the young at the very least.”

“We understand,” The Kings responded and they scattered to do as they were ordered, all but those that had come to the lands the Great Guardian had specified earlier. They had not heard the instructions the Talisman had given the others and were still waiting to find out what they were expected to do.

The Talisman continued, this time focusing its attention on the Emperor Lothrariel and those still remaining around the counsel table.

“Those remaining will travel with Emperor Lothrariel to the City of Torendal where I await everyone I have commanded to heed my words. My daughter, The Tratchar Eden, already knows what is expected from her. She has begun to assemble the Tratchars she considers worthy of serving my children. I will expect to see them in Torendal before the others return. They will need this time to prepare for the great task they are about to be assigned.”

“We will be there,” Eden promised. She then added. “For now our people are busy collecting seeds and saplings from the Sentinels and other trees. It may be a time of peace, but this cannot be taken for granted. As the new Talismen grow and mature, so will the Sentinels and other trees that will make up the forests that will surround them. They will not be left vulnerable to attack from others, nor will they be lonely as they age, the Tratchars know what is expected from them. The beauty you see here will once again cover the land from one end of the Elven Empire to the other.

“We chose well when we brought you into our heart,” The Talisman praised then turned to King Askandar, “Within your lands there are many Tratchars. Is there anything they will need?”

“Nothing that I can think of, although I have a feeling there could be at least two Tratchar Warriors that will want to return to our land.” King Askandar smiled at the thought of Galador and Timorean being close at hand. They were both men he could appreciate. They could also take Endural’s place if his brother decided he wanted to remain here to watch over his future Life Mate. He had a feeling, however, that was highly unlikely.

It was as King Askandar was considering what Endural would do when he noticed how Gabriel was standing so rigidly beside his Life Mate and, he knew, something was happening to upset her. In an atmosphere like this, Gabriel should have been at ease, not looking as if he was on duty. He wondered what was wrong.

“Has something happened that we should know about?” King Askandar wondered. “The High Lord General and his Tratchar Life Mate are showing signs of distress. I would have thought this a joyous occasion.”

“Sometimes great responsibility comes with mixed blessings,” Emperor Lothrariel explained. He didn’t need anyone to tell him what was about to happen. He knew Gabriel and Eden’s families were about to be split up. They were going to be sent to different Kingdoms in the Empire to serve the Great Guardian. Their children were all too talented not to be expected to take their places amongst those the Talisman wanted to guard her children. He could see them in the back of his mind serving the saplings that would one day grow into Great Guardians large enough to rival the one standing in the City of Torendal.

King Askandar didn’t spend much time pondering the situation. He knew what Emperor Lothrariel meant. Gabriel and Eden’s older children would be expected to leave their homes to travel into the new lands. Their grand children would grow up without the guidance of their family elder. They would still develop as Eagle Claws were expected to, but it wouldn’t be the same as watching them grow into adulthood on their own. The only salvation for them was their own younger set of children. It made him wonder how much of this the Talisman had seen or known would be happening in advance.

From everything King Askandar had been told about Gabriel and Eden, which had been a lot over the last few weeks, Eden should never have been able to conceive when she did. They had performed the spell they had cast many times without consequences because she was supposedly barren, this had not been the case at that time. This meant the Talisman had interceded on their behalf for reasons of its own. Still, he could see where even the younger members of this great family could be affected by what was happening. He had watched them play and train together. They were not merely a part of different facets of a big family, they were a unit, they were Eagle Claws and this was how they thought of themselves.

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