“My Lord? I am curious…” her question faded away as his silvery eyes looked keenly at her. For a moment, her own dull red gaze dropped away. “Ask whatever you wish, Eiralann – I am here to help you as much as I can.” Again, he restrained himself from examining her thoughts. Instead, he smiled at her in encouragement. “Before – when I was with the Lady Melisande and afterwards with the Great Lady and you also, when you came to us…” She faltered a little once more, worried that the question was too intrusive, but took heart from his warm silence and went on more strongly, “your speech my Lord. It is different now? Your words are now as spoken amongst the Shiânfolk?” He laughed and answered her softly, “We are different creatures, for we Anghali are an ancient race and, amongst ourselves, we do not speak like you or the other Shiânfolk…” In turn, he tailed off, taking time to choose his next words. “I know, my Lord – you all spoke to me, and to Faenelloth when we were dreaming and being cleansed. A kind of… thought speech?” As she spoke, he gave her a slow smile, for he often wondered since she had been passed into his care, whether he should speak to her on this matter. With a wry nod, he began to explain a little of what was in store for the Creedhor. “There will come a time, and soon now when the Tíréadan and the Berladan will pass into the West and into the full care of my kindred in Arbhalla. I and the Ladies Nardia and Melisande will remain here for a while longer. The People of the Wood and Waters will abide here on this Eastern Shore for many years to come, and some will not pass over the ocean at all. At that point, the Lady Nardia and I will no longer roam here in Ferandreath, and only the Lady Melisande will remain with the Cráinnadan who choose not to sail Westwards. This is when you will be reunited with Lady Melisande, as we told you.” “But meanwhile, I am to stay with you and learn how to fight the Demon Lord and his troichann?” “Yes. There will always be enmity between him and the Creedhor, and, because of your knowledge and need to atone, we will be together for many years, studying the Enemy and learning his ways together. When I must leave you, the Lady Melisande will need your help to defend the Cráinnadan, for there will be war, and the Creedhor must be ready for it. So, the answer to your question is that I – and Lady Melisande – now must speak as the Shiânfolk do on this side of the ocean. She, because she must be your people’s guide and guardian. You will be one of her chief instruments of defence against the Enemy, in terms of understanding and purpose in the trials to come. While I am with you, I must be your true companion in arms and brother in battle. Together, we are going to learn how best to fight them, both physically and mentally and so, as you cannot become as an Ainghal, I must become as like a man in all respects. Think like the Shiânfolk, talk like you and act like you.” “And that is why you will not speak to me in thoughts now?” Again, he laughed softly then nodded. “Nor will I attempt to bend your will, nor force you to act in a way you do not wish to.” “Like HE did!” Her eyes flamed now, hot as translucent rubies and her voice was a snarl at the thought of all she had been subjected within the Iron Tower. “Now you are restored and no longer being fed poisons, your will and your mind will never be overcome by those means again. Nor will I, nor my kind, try to dominate you in such a way without your consent. “While you were in Lady Melisande’s care, we learned from you, during your own healing. When you were first taken, the loss of your spouse and your infant weakened you considerably – in your grief and innocence, you had no defence against the Lords of Darkness. Through what we have now learned, and will learn together here, over these coming years, we will teach the other Creedhor how to resist and reject the Enemy. They are strong, but so are we – elves and Anghali together. They may wound and kill us, but they will never again manipulate or crush the will, or the wit of the Creedhor on these shores! This is my promise, and for the others of my kind, to you and to all the Creedhor – never again shall one of you be desecrated or demeaned as you, and the other lost ones were.” Her eyes were feral, and hot with anger and rue now. She nodded curtly at Arathorr, and her voice was low but hard as granite. “As long as it takes – I will fight them. That is my Oath.”
The future Eiralann in the Forest Kingdom? Image by Wayne Reynolds on Pinterest.