“On that note, you both will be out of here Wednesday.” A voice said and Rijiin, Natil and the young girl turned their head to the clear English voice of a man clad in a suit and tie. He is an older gentleman with a full beard, mustache, and sideburns. The suit is an old style double breasted suit, colored gray and his tie is a deep red color. The older man had a sprinkling of gray in his dark brown hair, making him look even older.
“I AM Sam Gray, from American Embassy in Mexico City.” He said, bowing slightly at the waist.
“It is a pleasure to meet you, Mister Gray.” Rijiin said, glancing at his smiling wife, “What is the news, good I trust then?”
“Excellent news… You both have been renewed to living status and will be returned home to the United States.” He said with a chortle, “Colorado was it? Ah yes, great skiing there.”
The Elf smiled broadly and both nodded slightly.
“So, how does this work, we leave from here or the embassy?” The Elf pressed, “Forgive me, as I never had to deal with an embassy before.”
“Well yes, once the papers are processed, we send you from here. Unless there is a reason to hold you over then you will be taken from here to the Embassy at Mexico City.” He said, “So far, nothing seems to be out of order.”
“Excellent, I do have one request, however, that you do not alert our relatives right away, we want to surprise them.”
“Well, we were in the process of contacting them as we speak, but that’s left up to the staff of the embassy.” The man said, “If they got a hold of them, they probably know already.” He bobbed his head.
“Miss Grace is coming with us.” Natil said formally, “Since she had nowhere to go, and her family has disowned her as an imposter…”
“We can’t release her to you, unless we get a release from her family.”
“After all the yelling and screaming I just went through, and a family who wants nothing to do with me… you can take that release and…” Katherine started to reply sharply, but it was cut off by Rijiin clearing his throat.
“Be at peace.” He said simply, “You still will go, release or not.”
“Thanks Rijiin, I’ll take you up on that offer…”
“Be at peace, everything will work out.” He replied and he moved toward the wheelchair to stand beside her.
“I can’t allow that unless we get a release from her folks allowing her to leave with you, after all she is only sixteen.” Gray said openly, “She will be returned to the states, but put in protective custody first.”
A look of fear crossed Katherine’s face, and she shook her head. Rijiin raised his hand and motioned to her to be quiet and she did so. He continued to fill them in on the procedure and they acted like they were listening but clearly were not. The Elves were excited to return home, and ready to show Katherine her new home at Elven Home.
“Be at peace beloved, we will come for you and take you out of here. You shall not endure anything like that.” Rijiin whispered and the young girl exhaled sharply, staring at Natil’s husband in silence.
“It will be good to be home again.” The Harper commented, “To be able to put this nightmare behind us.”
“Yes.” Rijiin replied casually, winking at Katherine.
Sam turned to the couple, and nodded his head. “The papers, notices, and passports should be here in a day or so.” He told them, “Be prepared to leave, immediately from here.”
“Thank you, Mister Gray.” Rijiin said, and he paused.
“Don’t thank me yet, till we get you all out of here.” He said and he exited the room, passing the guards, posted at the door. Rijiin’s wife was openly smiling.
“What about Katherine though.” The Harper asked, her smile fading and a look of concern setting in, “You said you had a plan?”
“Aye, I do, but not here.” Rijiin replied simply, and his wife slowly nodded. The group dispersed and returned to their rooms, but there was a strain in the air as the Elves and Katherine did not speak over the next two days.
As two days elapsed quickly, the passports were delivered by Sam Gray from the Mexico City, U.S. Embassy as was the other papers stating their living status, and returning them to a living state. Natil hugged Rijiin as she excitedly saw the papers and the passports that would allow them exit from the country. She wanted to go home, and Rijiin smiled in understanding at her excitement. He suddenly was reminded of Katherine when he peered at the passport, and he hatched a plan. He would use a portal to get her out of here, and take her to Elven Home where she would be protected. The Elf shook his head, as-if to clear the thoughts and turned his head to his wife who had spoken to him.
“Rijiin, are you alright? Beloved?” She asked and here he nodded to her. The Elf turned his head to Sam Gray who handed him and Natil their passports. The Elf saw a third one and a smile appeared on his face as he opened it. It was for Katherine.
“Shhhh.” He said, “The ambassador and I both agree, that if you want to be an adoptive guardian until she’s eighteen, he has no objection. Just keep it quiet. She is not cleared medically to leave by hospital, however, and the Mexican government. She’s to be held at the Mexican Consulate when she is released, and that we cannot have. She would endure molestation at the hands of the people down in the orphanages in Mexican Territory, which again we cannot have. We would rather send her with you than have that happen.”
“I will endeavor to provide that guardianship, and much more, Mister Gray.” Rijiin whispered, making the older man laugh and nod his head. He motioned the couple to follow. They went to Katherine’s room and they did not find her in her room. The Elf frowned, noting her stuff was gone, and he muttered a curse.
“Be at peace, I will find her.” Rijiin said, taking her passport and he walked into the hallway. When no one was looking he muttered under his breath.
“Irma Haeannon.” A shimmering door opened and he stepped through, and he ended up in a different area of the hospital. He walked quickly down a hallway, muttering the spell, and hopped all over the hospital, level by level. Rijiin, when he finally turned the corner, had stepped in behind the young girl as she sat next to a door and he put out a hand to grasp the handle of the wheelchair, making it impossible for her to go forward.
“What the…” The young girl cursed and she turned in the chair, looking up at Rijiin who stood over her.
“Rijiin!” She gasped, and he continued to hold the wheelchair handle.
“I know what you plan to do, it is not advisable.”
“How the hell do you know what the hell is advisable?” She snarled, “You get to go home, and I get an orphanage, after I am held hostage at the Mexican Consulate. What do you…” Silently, the Elf held the passport over her head in front of her face and she gasped loudly.
“It was granted, with compliments of Sam Gray of the U.S. Embassy.” He said, “Come let’s get back to your room and pack. We have a long journey ahead of us.” Katherine grinned as he pushed her quickly to the Elves’ room and they gathered what stuff given and had bought with a slush fund given to them by the American Government.
The next morning they were escorted to a car, the three of them, and they were driven to a restaurant where they would dine with the scrutiny of police on hand. Afterward, they would evade the police as four cars were driven from their place of dining, each one splitting up to different parts of the city. On board the airport one, which was stopped, were dummies and the one had the trio drove around the city as they speed to the airport.
Rijiin held Natil’s hand as they ran down the hall, pushing Katherine Grace in the chair before them, as she held on, holding her crutches upward. They ran to the gate, just in the nick of time as they held out their tickets, just as they started to board. All three were able to board quickly, and took a seat in the front of the plane and there they waited as the rest of the passengers boarded. The Elves and Ms. Grace are unaware that the police still follow the vehicles from the consulate until they were all stopped to realize they had been deceived. Police raced to the airport, as Sam Gray watched the trio’s plane begin to push back.
“Stop that plane!” They shouted, but the gate had long since been closed and the plane taxied to the runway. They moved to the control tower a few minutes later. The plane had already taken off and departed into the sky.
“I need you to stop a plane bound for Los Angeles, California, United States.” The Detective demanded, as he flashed his badge, “There is a fugitive on board that is leaving the country illegally!”
“Do you know the flight number?” The head controller asked and the detective glanced at his men who shook their heads, as the plane remained sky bound. When the police got the flight number they headed to the tower to have the plane return to Cabo.
Back on the aircraft, the trio sat calmly in the seat, as they drank cold soda between them.
“It won’t be too long, and we’ll be home, beloved.” Rijiin murmured to Natil and he leaned over to kiss her gently on the lips. Natil nervously peered out the window as she watched the ground speed on by.
On board the flight, on the radio in the cockpit, the message was sent to the aircraft.
“This is Cabo Control, to Flight LAX5517. You are instructed to return to Cabo immediately.”
The other flight, bound for Los Angeles was pulled back to Cabo, and when the police stormed it an hour later after it landed, they realized they were not on the aircraft. They had been tricked again. The trio was on another flight, now far over the United States Border and having landed safely in San Francisco where the trio entered the terminal thanks to Sam Gray’s switching them off the LAX flight to the SFO flight.
Meanwhile, in San Francisco’s sprawling terminal, Katherine watched as many planes took off and landed at the SFO airport. As they stood there, they held their carry-on, adjusting the strap as a wheelchair was brought to them, and the Elves pushed Katherine through the cavernous interior of the airport. As for young Miss Grace she had never been in SFO before, and as she rolled by the many windows, her head was turning back and forth as she took in the surroundings. The Elves quickly escorted her to the far gate where they would make connections to Denver, and home. It would be a new home for young Miss Grace who had nowhere to go after a trying few days with her family with no success.
“I am sure glad we’re going to be going home after all we’ve been through. It will be good to settle back into the routine of being home.” Natil said, and Rijiin laughed.
“Aye, it will be good to be home.” He replied, “We can tell of our adventures on that island. It will be hard to believe, but we three know…”
The Elves turned to note the sullen, silent young woman in the chair, who sat with a furled brow as she was deep in thought. Katherine was having second thoughts of what had happened, even though she was glad to be out of Mexico and not in the orphanage on Mexican Territory.
“Are you not well, Miss Grace?” Rijiin asked, glancing at his wife and both turned their attention to the young woman.
“Just thinking, maybe I should try to get in touch with my family. I don’t feel right having to live with you guys.” Katherine said, and Rijiin shook his head.
“Be at peace Katherine, You will be welcomed with open arms, as if you are part of the family we have already.” He said, “Trust us when we say that.”
She peered at Rijiin, at his eyes that seemed to twinkle brightly with what she thought was starlight in them, and she could not take her eyes off him. It was the same with his wife. She was not sure what she had gotten herself into. Katherine nodded slowly to the Elf. Deep down inside the young woman an uneasy feeling leap out of what she thought to be her very soul.
“Who are Natil and Rijiin?” Katherine thought to herself, “They are so strange, just like it was on the ship the first night, on the island, and now.”
When they arrived at the next gate, they handed the tickets to the flight attendant manning the gate. The attendant took each ticket, and managed a smile at Rijiin who nodded politely.
“Welcome Mister and Missus L’Theil, and Ms. Grace, to American Airlines ™.” She said, “We will be boarding in about twenty-minutes, you will be coming on first, since Miss Grace is in a wheelchair.”
“With thanks.” Rijiin said, and stepped back bowing slightly to her. The stewardess grimaced uncertainly at the old-fashioned custom. Rolling Katherine back, they sat near the gate, and all peered out the window as the busy airport, the jets taking off and landing was a hustle of activity. The Elf put his arm around Natil and held her.
“So what is your home like?” Katherine asked, “You said it was in the mountains?”
“You’ll see. It’s a good place.” Rijiin promised, and with that he nodded his head. The Elf turned when he sensed they would be boarding soon, but in the meantime he stood near the window and peered out at the water of the Bay. He suddenly had a familiar memory of this place that somewhere, long ago, his adventures started not far from here. It is where he jumped time and space to end up into the past five hundred years. As the Elf watched the air traffic, he whistled a song quietly, a very old song, one that he could not remember its name, but it came from something from his youth as a human. Nearby he was watched by his new wife, who frowned dubiously at the odd behavior that he was exhibiting.
What was up with the elf, is that he had made a full circle again, returning to a place he once called home, and found the portal that took him the past five hundred years. He had very few memories otherwise, ore could remember much of the past now, his adventures beginning when he had stepped into the shop in that mall, and found transformation into an elf by Natil’s kinsman. He wondered if his former family still lived in the city south of here, or any of his relatives, even though he was dead and his body buried a long time ago. Rijiin found it hard to believe that he was back here, after so long away and standing with Natil in this place. He shook his head slightly.
“Rijiin, are you alright?” Her voice called to him and he turned to focus on his wife. He nodded quickly to her.
Natil had sensed his apprehensiveness for being in San Francisco, and remembering that once upon a time he had lived here as a human until he had given it up after stepping through the portal and then later when they appeared via Elven Magic to this place again, to help and heal Mimi and Becky who joined them in Denver.
“I am fine, beloved.”
“Uh-huh.” Natil replied, unconvinced.
“It’s time to board.” Natil informed him and he nodded his head. The Elf walked back to Katherine in the chair, and pushed her toward the gate where all three handed the tickets to the flight attendant who smiled and handed back the packets to each one of them.
“Have a good flight to Denver.” She chirped politely.
“Thank you, we shall.” Rijiin said with a smile, pushing Katherine toward into the walkway that connected the aircraft, down the boarding ramp, soon arriving at the plane. Getting up from the chair, Katherine hobbled on her crutches into the plane, followed by the Elves who found their seats with her. Quickly they stored their stuff under the seats that appeared to be next to the starboard, forward emergency exit. Katherine said down with a sigh, facing the Elves, putting her crutches on the floor so they would not trip anyone in the aisle.
“I’m sorry you cannot have your crutches like that.” The flight attendant said, as she passed and gathering them up she held them. “I’ll put them up front for you, when you need them, let me know.”
“Okay.” Katherine replied warmly, and glanced at Rijiin and Natil who busily worked the seats they sat in. She gripped her husband’s arm and with her head motioned toward the young woman.
“Rijiin, you should… really.” She said, “You know…”
He glanced at his wife. He picked up on her meaning and he nodded. She had suggested that he heal the young woman’s leg as he was able, making for a more comfortable flight for her, and more mobility when they reached the other end of their flight. He cocked his head and thought about it, shaking his head slightly.
“I shall, but not here, beloved. I will when we get to Denver.” He said, “She will have full use of her leg then, I promise. I don’t want to start a commotion with the other passengers if I use our magic in front of them.” The young maiden thought about it and she nodded slowly.
“I trust you were able to get through to the college when we were at San Francisco?”
“Yes, they were relieved that everything is okay and our deaths were a mistake.” Natil replied, “They, no doubt, are going to have a welcome home party for both of us like the others. They are waiting for our return.”
“Hell, I am looking forward to it.” Rijiin said with a laugh, and it made the young maiden laugh too.
“I thought you would embrace it.” Natil replied with a smirk and he managed a polite nod of agreement.
“You know I would.” Rijiin replied, and Natil laughed quietly again, taking up his hand to grip it, and stared into his gray eyes.
“It is our beginning, Rijiin.” Natil told him quietly, “As it was in the beginning, Arae ea circa.”
“Aye, and I like where this is going.” He replied, “We have our lives ahead of us with our firstborn on it way. How do you feel and say you my beloved wife?”
“I know, and I cannot wait.” Natil shot back, “I am nervous and excited to see what is ahead. Although I wonder what Varden would have said, had he been able to see ahead for the future of the elves of Denver?”
“He would have embraced it as we have, but would have said the ways are cloudy ahead.” The elf replied, “But I would disagree, the ways have been clearer than even we have foreseen. It is a new time and place fore us both and uncertainty lies ahead for us.”
“You seem to think they have found renewal.” Natil quietly stammered and gasped when he nodded.
“I am sure of it. They are out there, somewhere.” He said, “And I hope for their sake they come to Denver soon as turbulent times are ahead in this world, as it was back then, and what is happening now in the world.”
“I know, and I so love you.” The Harper whispered, and she gripped his hand tightly.
“And so starts Area ea Oombra here today too, beloved.” The elf said solemnly, and she gasped, “It starts with the completion of our reunion and life and now begins with our expecting our first-born. I have seen ahead a bit in the starlight. We will become very close, almost inseparable, more than we are now.”
“By our lady!” Natil said, but her next thought was interrupted by a ‘thunk’ somewhere and the plane began to push back, as the engines began to whine as they powered up, a flight to take them home to Denver and home, Katherine’s new home. She turned her head to glance nervously out the window of the aircraft.
As for the young woman, she glanced intensely at the couple, upon hearing the Elvish words, spoken by them. She still did not expect to hear them. Katherine still did not know what to make of the couple that she had met for the first time on the ship, or on the island, then in the hospital where they were checked out from their ordeal of being shipwrecked. They were really a strange, but refreshing old-fashioned couple who she did not know had seen a lot in their travels together, and apart. She was nervous and excited at the same time, half hoping to know what Elven Home was like, as it was said to be what Rijiin himself and Natil confirmed would be like to her imagination.
“I sure hope it is what they said it will be.” Katherine thought to herself, and shook her head.
“I guess I can only wait and see.” The young woman thought, and shook her head in bewildered silence.
Together they sat on the flight, which was only two hours and as the plane streaked across the sky, that Katherine peered down the aisle at the fully loaded plane at the other passengers. She suddenly seemed a bit strange, something about the other passengers felt strange to her, and the young woman could not understand quite what it was she was seeing. The young woman was seeing a strange aura around a few of them, which confused her.
“This is really weird… I feel weird…” The young woman said, having been asleep when Rijiin had helped and healed her quickly. A flash had quickly appeared, then disappeared and her leg had been healed by the Elf’s magic. It had been the same way it would have been healed long ago in Adria when they lived and helped in Saint Brigid, five hundred years ago for the Elves. The only difference they were in modern times, rather than renaissance times.
When they landed, they disembarked, greeted by the cold stiff Colorado draft in the tarmac as they walked up the ramp toward the terminal. Katherine still used the crutches, but Rijiin half turned, motioning to them. He managed a thin smile.
“You won’t need those any longer.” He told her, and Katherine looked at him like he was crazy.
“What do you mean?” She asked, stunned as he nodded his head.
“I healed your leg of its break, and other wounds.” He said, “I utilized the old ways, just as I did on the island.”
The young human glanced at the Elf Maiden.
“Rejoice. You have been healed of your wounds fully by the power of the Elves.”
“Be at peace, what he says is true, I asked him to do it for our journey here to the mountains.” Natil told her, and Katherine frowned, cocking her head uncertainly. A moment later, the young woman dubiously took her arms from the crutches, putting her weight on the leg. There was no pain. She gasped in astonishment. Her side tingled as she stood there, and lifting her shirt, she peered at the absence of any wound on her side. Neither were there any scars or marks on her skin either.
“There’s no pain.” She observed, and standing on it, she hobbled a few steps forward, because of the bulky cast than the break itself.
“Sweet Jes…” Katherine began to say and suddenly fell silent. Something about the Elves seemed familiar to her now, as she peered at them. Just as it had been on the island, in the hospital she knew who and what she was seeing. She was seeing that of a couple who was blessed with a gift that was beyond her comprehension.
“It’s true.” Katherine said quietly, “MY thanks to you Rijiin and Natil.”
“You are welcome mistress.” He replied, bowing slightly, and the motion made her smirk.
“Wow, a lot more.” Katherine murmured, remembering the statement that Rijiin had made on the island about being immortal and his proof to her in the form of using the knife from the lifeboat. She did not know that he had traveled the world, and for his atonement for his sins had slain many souls in those adventures. He had only given back when he became sick of the killing, and seeing death often where he put his skills to use.
The young woman put more weight on her leg and managed a full broad smile. She motioned to the Elves that stood watching her curiously.
“Do not fret about the cast. I can remove that easily enough.” Rijiin said with a wink and Katherine giggled, smiling broadly.
“I’m sure you can, Rijiin.” Katherine replied and motioned with the wave of her hand. “Elven Home was it, right? Well, what are we waiting for, let’s head for home.”
The elves smiled, and the trio headed toward the exit of the airport, to the bus stop, boarding, and riding one of several that would take them home. As they rode the buses, they talked quietly among themselves, the trio at this hour the only passengers left when they reached the last stop of the bus. Katherine was excited, but nervous of her discovery ahead, and suddenly glad to have taken up the offer by Rijiin and Natil.
“This couple is so strange, but so nice for doing this for me.” She thought, “Anything is better than being trapped in a different country and not allowed to leave. They certainly are my benefactors in that department. I hope they are right about this home, and what they described.”
The young woman felt a tingle of excitement as she hobbled along with the crutches, pausing every so often to reposition herself and to rest with the added exercise walking with the crutches.
As they continued to walk, she listened to the banter between Natil and Rijiin, who were discussing baby names. She added her laughter to the few names they had come up with for their first born who was very much on the way. They just had a few months to wait until their child was born to the world.
Meanwhile at Elven home: Mimi waited on the outside of the home, sword drawn, expecting Tantras to appear any time to keep his promise to destroy the Home if they did not turn over Rijiin. A problem that the Elves faced, not knowing that their family members were alive, well, and on their way home. Mimi would be forced to fight for the honor of Elven Home in which she would try to take Tantras’ head to protect everyone now gathered in this mountain home. Mouse shivered in the mountain air, unnerved by the feeling she was having with her inner thoughts.
Since her healing, the youthful looking woman felt strong, and healthy, thanks to Rijiin. He had changed her for the better, into something Elven more than human, her form completely changed from what it was and recognized for. Now she hoped that his training, and skill, passed onto her was and would be enough to protect them all, even Rijiin and Natil who she thought still here in spirit rather than in person.
“This is it.” Mimi thought, checking the blade, as it shone in the light, sharp and very keen, able to take the wizard without hesitation. Turning her head she scanned the open clearing outside the home, at the cars parked a distance off and then to the forest that surrounded the home. Above them the clouds billowed, and violently churned colored an almost grayish, violet color. It was very strange coloring. Mimi seemed to sense the wizard and panned a long stare to the surroundings in silence. She wondered if it had been the same way when Rijiin fought the evil wizard not too long ago, in a place far away.
“He’s here, I know it.” Mouse thought, “He’s studying us. Damn Rijiin, I wish you were here to take this person on.”
“Have confidence in yourself and your abilities and you be just fine.” Rijiin had told her many times as he trained her in the dark ages, using a wooden blade from which he showed her the motions of the dance. Mimi shook her head, clearing the idle thoughts and chatter of misdirection that echoed in her brain and she felt a little braver than she had been in the last few hours.
As she stood there on the common of the Home, Becky silently walked up beside her, followed by Sana and Ash. When Becky touched Mimi’s shoulder, Mouse jumped. She immediately brought the blade instinctively up to slice blindly at her friend’s throat in a next to heartbeat reaction. Becky saw it coming, dodging, and was panting in an almost panic as she crouched at Mimi’s feet. Mouse had gasped, stopping the blade instantly in one motion and lowered it, holding it in hand.
“Whoa! Jesus! Are you alright Mouse?” Becky asked and Mimi glanced at her in silence. Ash and Sana had gasped too when they both saw Mimi turn and bring up the blade the way she did. It was as-if she was expecting someone else and at this point she really was. She thought Becky had been Tantras trying to sneak up on her.
“Sorry Beck, but I am a little nervous.” Mimi complained.
“Tantras, he’s out there.” Mouse said with almost certainty, “He’s watching us.”
“How do you know?” Becky questioned, as a surprised look appeared on her face, “Are you able to sense him?” Mimi did not reply, only nodding a couple of times with her head.
“I just know.” Mimi said with urgency, holding the blade, as she scanned the surrounding forest, and the clearing carefully, narrowing her eyes each time. Becky noted Mouse’s reaction to the surroundings and also was watching the clearing.
“How do you know?”
“I just know it. He’s out there.” Mimi repeated, “I only hope if I am strong enough to take him, and follow the training that Rijiin gave us both.”
“You must have confidence.” Becky replied solemnly, nodding her head, “Rijiin would not have trained you if he didn’t think you were able to learn. Look at yourself and your education. You are a powerhouse, just focus on what you know and you will be alright. You can do it, I know you can, just have confidence in your abilities and you can accomplish what you put your mind to.
A moment later, there was a flash and there the evil wizard stood, clad in solid flaming red attire, a red hat and with his pale complexion, albino eyes, and white beard that fell like a waterfall across his chest. They only glanced at each other in silence before turning their focus upon the figure in red.
“Holy shit, he’s here.” Becky breathed, as she took up the spare blade and she pulled it from the scabbard with a metallic rasp. She stood her ground with Mimi.
“Make sure he does not get within ten feet of the home.” Mimi whispered, “Kill that son of a bitch if I fall.”
“I have your back, Mouse.” Becky said, glaring at Tantras as she placed the blade over her arm.
“Behold, I am here.” He snarled, “Times up, you have now five minutes to deliver him, or I destroy you.”
Just as Mimi and the others stood their ground against Tantras, that Rijiin, Natil and Katherine appeared in the woods, not far from the hostile scene. Together they looked on, glancing at each other as they saw the melee between Mouse and someone Rijiin thought to be dead by his hand. The elf had spied the home, pointing it out to Katherine who smiled at its appearance, but when he saw the unholy stand off that was happening at this very moment that Rijiin bolted toward the clearing and crouched behind a downed log near a thick grove of trees.
“What the fuck is this…? Tantras? That can’t be possible, I killed him while wandering and at an old place I once called home.” The Elf started to say and he stepped forward. An arm held him back, however. Natil saw the melee too and held him back.
“Don’t. You don’t know what is going on and it might be a trap. Let’s watch and wait. Mimi, you trained yourself, and she has your blade.” Natil suggested. The Elves and Katherine knelt behind a log covered in snow. They listened to the conversation that seemed to echo the clearing. Becky, Ash, Sana and Mimi stood on the threshold, Mouse held the blade ready, the same one that had almost taken Tantras a numerous amount of times and she knew it. Rijiin could see the confidence on Mimi’s face, and her readiness.
“Excellent, she is keeping cool and waiting.” He thought, “She is heeding my words, the many times about patience during training.”
“…Lord Tantras, he is not here, I keep telling you that those graves are real, and he died by another’s hand, by the hand of Poseidon and the sea.” Mimi shouted, “But if you insist, we can settle this, or are you cowardly to fight against a woman?”
Tantras gritted his teeth and snarled, closing his eyes to barely contain the rage that he felt. He raised his staff as he began to glow red around him, and his eyes glowed brightly from underneath his hat. Behind him, Becky chuckled, as did Ash and Sana at the barb in Mimi’s statement.
“Good one.” Becky whispered, smiling broadly.
“Insolence!” Tantras replied, “You will pay for that insult. I hope you enjoy pain and death and welcome it. You will die slowly, I will see to that.” Tantras shouted, as he mumbled the words of the arcane magic that he possessed, able to destroy them at will. As he cast, that Mimi motioned Becky, Ash and Sana back.
“I’ll say hello to Rijiin and Natil for you when I see them then… in that case…” Mimi said solemnly, raising the blade and gritting her teeth, preparing to charge the red wizard alone.
“Mimi… No, you’ll be…” Ash and Sana said, starting to protest, but stopped as they spied a snowball that struck the wizard on the back of the head.
Natil had held Rijiin’s arm when he had knelt down and picked up a handful of snow. The Elf turned his head, and shook his head, smiling broadly at his companions. Both caught on what was about to happen, and could not contain a chuckle, as Rijiin threw it from his place from the trees. It struck the wizard on the back of the head.
Tantras gasped with the cold wet that now ran down the back of his head, and now distracted, his magic was interrupted. He snarled as he closed his eyes, to try and cast again, but another snowball pelted him on the back of his head. The wizard glared at the four who had all moved back and they put up their hands, as if to signal their innocence for the deed. They had smiles on their faces, and laughter about to burst from within.
“Alright, who is doing that?” Tantras shouted, and he turned his head, pelted on the side of his head by another snowball. It made the evil wizard grit his teeth, as an unnatural glow appeared all around him. He suddenly realized that he stood alone on the threshold before the home. The four had withdrawn and now were quite of distance out of range. He had missed his chance to kill them when he had the chance of doing so, which was fortunate for Mimi and the others.
“Bragollach en’ templa!” he shouted as a small black ball shout out and struck the clearing nearby causing a great explosion. There was a thunder and silence. Another pelt of snow continued to strike Tantras of Thay. He cast it again as another explosion echoed through the trees. Tantras turned to the trio, raising his staff and he began to cast quickly. Another snowball struck him, this time right between the eyes, and he closed his eyes impatiently, wiping the snow from his face. He continued casting the explosive ball that exploded out in the trees.
“Come out, or I will kill your friends and destroy this place!” The only response was a bigger snowball, whacking Tantras hard in the head. He roared as laughter erupted from the four of the maidens who he could hear a distance off from him, near the building, and had echoed through the trees around him. They watched the snowballs continually whack Tantras and could not contain their mirth.
“Who the fuck is doing that?” He shouted angrily. Laughter continued to echo the trees. Becky and the others could see his insane rage, and tolerance about to break from their places far away from him.
“I did!” Rijiin shouted finally, his voice thundering as it echoed through the woods. “For it is I, Rijiin of Elvenhome!”
“It’s… It’s Rijiin!” Mimi gasped, “And Natil! They’re alive?”
Her statement had been more of an astonished question than a statement. Ash, Becky, Mimi and Sana bolted toward the trio, whom they thought were lost, from their hiding places, not caring that Tantras stood ready to wipe them out. They clearly were glad to see them, and their chatter of greeting echoed across the common.
When others saw Rijiin, Natil and Katherine, from inside, they appeared outside and all rushed toward the Elf maiden and human who stood beside Ash, Mouse, Becky and Sana. They stopped when Rijiin snapped his fingers. Mimi, realizing what he was going to do, had smiled as she tossed him his blade which he caught. The elf turned to walk into the clearing, standing twenty feet from the others who moved out of the way, and his gray eyes twinkled brightly as he stared at the wizard.
Natil, standing a distance off behind him, was embraced by Becky, Ash, Sana and the others, who welcomed an astonished Katherine who had not been expecting something like this in the woods.
Meanwhile, Rijiin stood across from the wizard, less than twenty feet. The Elf’s blade shone brightly in the light. Rijiin casually stretched himself, limbering up, readying himself for battle with the evil wizard. What he hoped would be the last time.
“Prepare to die, you fool.” Tantras snarled, and the Elf yawned sarcastically at the statement.
“Why is it the same cliché with you, Tantras?” The Elf said with a sigh, “Can’t you come up with something different, even after five hundred years?”
Tantras showed surprise by the Elf’s statement, even after five hundred years the Elf was the same annoying intellectual that he had always been. He always kept the peace and remained on good terms with humans, even though they were mainly responsible for killing his people in the dark ages. Nothing seemed to change about the Elf to the wizard. He was much older, and probably much harder to destroy. He had seen many things like the wizard, harsh times and evil times, in which Tantras could say were not his best times either. Both had been persecuted into wandering the Earth and time itself.
Rijiin positioned himself in an easy stance, holding the blade ready. He motioned for the wizard to come toward him.
“This time Lord Tantras, no tricks, let’s see what kind of man you really are, if you can truly can take me in a fight.” Rijiin challenged, “Be wary, and glad I stopped the fight with the young maiden, she would have slain you easily.”
The wizard showed a sarcastic expression on his face, then a look of rage, insulted right in front of others with disrespect. They chuckled quietly at Rijiin’s statement.
“Insolence! You will pay for that disrespect, Elf.”
“Tinechor.” Rijiin muttered, and a shield shimmered about him. The elf sarcastically made a face, taking up an easy stance and ready for the first move of the Wizard whose duplicate had been no match for the elf’s skill with a blade.
The wizard stepped toward the Elf with his staff and the blades sparkled and rang out loudly as they traded steel. They circled and sparks visibly showed as more steel was traded. There were cheers and shouts from the other Elves as they circled and fought.
“Lova Handasse!” Tantras shouted, and a beam struck the Elf’s shield to harmlessly be deflected away from him.
“Ah, only a coward fights with a shield.” Tantras snarled, making the Elf grimace.
“A fool fights unprotected, when the odds are fixed.” The Elf replied, and he stood his ground, pivoting slightly to let Tantras’ blade expel cleanly into the air.
“Thanga yassen templa.” Rijiin said solemnly, and the lightning bolt shot out and struck Tantras, making him stagger backwards. The weapon lowered. The Elf moved in and brought the blade expertly down upon the wizard. Tantras of course expertly blocked the movement, deflecting the blade and swiping his bladed staff across Rijiin’s chest. It made the Elf gasp, as it left a bloody gash on his chest.
Rijiin staggered backwards, but nimbly dodged the next swing by Tantras, as he swung his staff several times. The Elf dodged the strikes that could have easily taken his head and he brought up his blade to thrust outward. The motion found its mark across his throat. The wizard staggered backwards, suddenly advancing less aggressively and more strategic than his moves before. The Elf grinned openly as he held the blade. There was a gasp by the on-lookers. The loudest had been from his wife who looked on concerned.
“Hurt?” The Elf said with a grin on his face, taunting Tantras with the very words from Ramirez from the Highlander movie when he taunted Kurigan. The Elf stepped back and spun his blade, motioning the wizard to come to him. The Elf had long since linked to his stars, and was waiting for that one move, the one that was not block able and opening that the Elf would take the wizard.
Again Tantras swung his blade in, and the Elf dodged effortlessly, until he brought it behind his body, slicing his arm. Rijiin dodged and parried, slicing the wizard on his arm back. The two fought and circled, exchanging steel. The Elf bounced around and constantly moved deliberately away from Tantras, letting each strike expend into the open air after each exchange.
Mimi and the others looked on in silence, shouting comments and cheering him on. Mouse glanced at Natil, however, seeing the worried expression on her face about her new husband, who had taken superficial damage in this fight. She grimaced at the sight of his blood covering his shirt.
“It is time to die, Elf!” Tantras said, as he swung his staff, the blade finding its way home across his chest, cutting the Elf again.
“Hurt?” Tantras said, with a grin and he grabbed the Elf. Taking his spear’s blade he thrust it toward the elf, attempting to ram it through Rijiin’s back into his chest. But the elf was too fast for him, quickly moving under the wizard, pivoting to throw him over his shoulder.
“Lema ed' templa” The Elf whispered and he vanished, appearing behind the wizard as he rammed the point of his blade through the wizard who cried out. Blood splattered from his body, as the point of Rijiin’s blade stuck out the front of it. There was a surprised gasp by the gathered members of Elven home.
“YESS!” The Elf shouted as he twisted his blade sharply and there was a crunch. The wizard screeched in pain, struggling to get free from the elf’s blade.
The Elf pulled his blade from the wizard’s body, turning slightly and they exchanged steel one more time before Rijiin finally saw the opening that he waited for. It was the final exchange when the Elf and Tantras’ blades locked together and there was a loud clang as they struck for the last time. The Elf merely grinned as the wizard struggled to free his blade.
When the blade finally released, with a rasp of metal, Rijiin unleashed with every ounce of energy as his blade flashed. He stepped in forty-five degrees as the blade found its mark, there was a crunch as the blade cut deeply and on target.
“Elthia!” Rijiin called out sharply, and he moved like a cat as he pivoted again, his blade flashing again in the other direction.
There was a scream by one of the Elf maidens who quickly covered the eyes of Kelly Blues who had come outside. They instinctively protected her young eyes from the violence and bloodshed from the Elf and the evil wizard’s fight. Time seemed to stand still for several seconds as the head of the wizard slowly slipped from Tantras’ shoulders and it fell to the ground with a thud, rolling twice. An evil smirk was on its face as blood pooled under it as the body fell a moment later as energy poured from the neck of Tantras. Kelly stared in astonishment at the headless body of the wizard as she was quickly ushered away. The other Elves looked on in silence as the energy continued to sparkle from the body of the wizard.
“There can be only one.” Rijiin declared, as energy seemed to spark and creep along the ground. Out of the blue, a wind whipped and the energy moved toward the Elf. The others had not been expecting this to happen, and as it surrounded the Elf, they gasped as Rijiin screamed. The energy danced around him brightly, far enough away from the home and vehicles that none of the windows were damaged. It ripped through the trees, making them rustle and shake violently with the sharp wind before it struck the Elf from both sides. Rijiin screamed out as he held the blade, and the shock of the energy made him drop it onto the ground. A roar of the energy echoed the clearing as it swirled about him for several minutes then there was silence. The Elf collapsed onto his knees and finally onto the partially snow covered ground as the white energy vanished in a flash around him.
“What and the hell was that?” TK stammered, staring at the silent clearing before him, and the body of Rijiin lying on the ground near the headless body of the wizard whom he had fought a few minutes ago.
“I don’t know TK.” Sana said, “I never saw something like that except from…”
She stopped speaking, as Natil sprang to her feet in a heartbeat and sprinted across the clearing toward her husband who now lay on the ground. The others of Elven Home, still stunned by the entire display, were on their feet too and they hustled themselves over toward the Elf from all directions, ignoring the body and head of Tantras that lay nearby. Natil, his wife, was at his side first and she put her hand on his back.
“Is he alright?” A voice asked.
“Is he dead?” Another voice asked and Natil ignored them, putting her hand on his broad shoulder.
“Rijiin, beloved can you hear me?” She asked with a tone of concern in her voice, but only found silence in return at that very moment.
Around him the elves stood helplessly by as Natil shook her husband slightly, trying to turn him over.
“What the hell was that about?” Dell asked, moving to his side, “There can be only one what? What does it mean?”
“That is a question that only Rijiin seems to be able to answer.” Hadden said, as he appeared at the side of Natil with Marsh, TK and the others. A low murmur echoed through the clearing. All were glad to see Natil and Rijiin, but not like this.
“Somebody has seen the Highlander movies too much.” TK said jokingly, “But that was one hell of a fight.”
“Rijiin?” Natil asked again, leaning down, her hand on his broad shoulder. The Harper from her place over him, could see the grass moving below him indicated he was breathing and still was alive, which made her sigh in relief. But he did not answer her right away which was driving her crazy with worry.
“By the lady, he’s not responding!”
Still leaning down the Harper rolled him over onto his back and the group present stared at him in astonishment. The wounds that he sustained, the bloody gash on his chest given to him twice by Tantras had vanished, as did the other cuts and damage to his body. There were no scars or marks, just clear skin.
Five minutes would elapse as he lay there, and when he finally opened his eyes, at the dismay of the others, he focus on the worried expression of his wife.
“The slash wounds inflicted upon him, by the wizard, their gone!” A voice said, “How did it… What does it mean…?”
The Harper’s eyes widened in astonishment, as her husband sat up, and she saw him peer out at the surroundings in the distance. He let out a silent breath then took in a long inhale. Rijiin turned his head to meet the expression of his beloved Harper. He smiled at her, nodding slightly.
“I-I’m alright, beloved.” The Elf said after a moment. Natil stared at the face, it seemed changed again from what it had been. Something about the transfer of immortality, between the wizard and the Elf, had changed him. He seemed different to the young Harper.
“By our lady, what does this mean?” Natil thought, “He seems so different, what happened when the energy struck him, why does he look like that?” The Harper did not understand anything that happened, Rijiin never mentioning many of the adventures in history, and never with the fight with Tantras or other immortals that he had met in his travels. He never mentioned anything like this to anyone, or if he had ever fought the other immortals.
“Well, you guys have a lot of explaining to do, why you didn’t tell us you were alive and well.” Marsh said, with mock hostility.
“Yea!” TK added, nodding his head but beneath their mock frowns were the grins were the silent smirks they trying to hide. After a moment, the others laughed and clustered around Natil and Rijiin. The Harper put her arms around her husband warmly and kissed him, making them cheer. She smiled at Hadden, TK and Marsh.
They turned to Rijiin who was staring at the surroundings in silence, taking in the beauty of the few snow-covered trees, and letting the cold wind hit him in the face. Natil and Katherine both sensed a drastic difference in him, than before. She watched as he peered out into the forest and the mountains surrounding the home. He seemed more youthful than he had ever been before. More than he was after the first transformation into his becoming an elf and immortal. Natil didn’t understand.
“So, do you think he is dead this time Rijiin?” Natil asked casually. She had addressed her husband who had turned his head, and thinking about it for a moment, he shrugged. The others looked on, surprised by the question she had asked him.
“It is hard to say. I took his head, and you saw what happened. Honestly, I am not sure, but I think it’s over this time for real.”
“Please explain all that energy that swept through and around you.” Marsh said, speaking up, “It’s not normal to do that as an immortal is it?”
Rijiin smiled and shook his head. He did not elaborate what had transpired between himself and Tantras of Thay, but it had transpired before two other times they had fought throughout history.
It was how the immortality worked, you were immortal an impervious to most damage, except when you lost your head, it was over and you ceased to exist as an immortal and our life ended abruptly as he had ended many a mortal’s life. Elves had endured for centuries, just like the Highlander Movies, seeing century after century as a people until they faded in the fourteenth century. Although Rijiin had seen longer, having wandered like Natil across the world until his arrival in Colorado, many centuries later.
Rijiin could not say he had been wrong for his atonement of sins that he committed against humanity, having been guilty of slaying many, ending their lifelines in the battles and wars that he had been forced to endure and participate in. He had clearly no choice in the matter, even though it was against everything the elves were about. He had to live with that harsh memory of those times, the memories of hose times carried with him always. The elf shook his head, trying to clear those memories, trying to suppress their existence from within.
“Beloved I certainly hope it’s over for you, at least you will find peace now, and not have worries that keep you. You can relax and focus on the adventure to come.” Natil said, and he nodded in silent agreement.
“Aye, I can spend all the time with you beloved.” He replied, but had turned from her, to take up the body of Tantras, placing it on his shoulder.
“First things first, before I adjourn inside.” The elf said, as he held the body of Tantras on his shoulder and the head in his left hand, holding it by the hat till worn by Tantras. Natil and the others had a questioning look on their faces. They had heard the thick accent in his voice, an Elven accent from long ago there. Natil noticed it first and had gasped. The power of the elves was with him and tempered like the steel that he kept at his side.
Natil could not say she was wrong for what and who they saw standing before them.