“What are you doing with Tantras, beloved?” Natil asked, “What are you going to… planning to do?”
“Just so, I am going to lug the guts into the forest and dispose of it, once and for all. Be at peace, I doubt no one will notice his absence from the world.” Rijiin said, “It is only proper we give him a decent burial, even though he was out for revenge for those many fights he lost.”
The Harper and the others were startled by his words, and Natil frowned playfully. He had always kept the peace with humans, and respected them, even when having to kill them. Even after what Tantras had done to him, he still remained being the peace keeper. It was no different. He showed his respect for humans even after having to end their lifelines.
She saw him adjust under the body weight of Tantras as he stood there. Natil watched him go and disappear over a hill. In the forest, about an hour, the Elf gathered wood and he made a funeral pyre, placing the body of Tantras upon it. When he was done he stood staring at it.
“Forgive me old friend.” Rijiin said, “But you would not listen, and I had to destroy you. May you find rest in the next world.”
“Tincya en' russe tuulo' moriloomir!” Rijiin said sharply and there was a flash, followed by a clap of thunder as a bolt of lightning streaked down from the sky. It struck the pyre, igniting it. As the flames licked the wood, and smoke billowed up into the sky, a dark cloud seemed to hover over the body as the wood ignited and the flames grew hot. A wall of flames quickly surrounded the body.
As the Elf watched as the body of Tantras burn, he did not turn his head when sensing Natil, Mimi and Becky as they appeared at his side as the dull roar of the flames echoed in the breeze. Rijiin turned his head to regard the pensive expression on his wife’s face and on the other’s faces as they joined him around the burning pyre.
“It was just like Mirya when we gave her the same burial before she was reborn from a young maiden named Miriam.” Natil whispered, glancing at her husband whose eyes were locked on the flames of the burning pyre.
“H-how did you know?”
“It was the decent thing to do.” Rijiin said softly, “No matter for human, immortal or whatever Tantras was. It is the same like it was for Mirya, like it is now.” Natil heard him and she nodded slightly, putting her arm on his shoulder.
“I know how hard this is for you.” She whispered lustily, as she put her arms around him and together they watched as the body burned for a long time.
A few hours later, when there was nothing left of Tantras’ body but ash, Rijiin gathered it up. He took it into the forest and there he scattered it, also letting some blow in the strong wind overlooking the nearby canyon on the ledge. It was nightfall when he finally completed his task and as he turned to adjourn to the home that a cold wind of night whipped at the Elf. He glanced up at the crescent moon and the cold stars of night. He saw Mirya’s star burning bright, clear and cold in the night sky.
He could not say he was wrong, and knew that Mirya and Terrill had found renewal as he hoped, like the others.
“Ah ea sarena, Elthia.” He murmured, and here he managed a grimace, moving along the path leading to the low glow of Elven Home in the distance that he could see through the branches of the trees around it. He managed a grin as he approached it, glad for its warmth that it provided for all.
As he entered, the others looked up at him as he stood in the doorway, before walking toward Natil who sat in the living room with the other Elves. The others, who sat in the living room, resumed talking, laughing and carrying on as their friend walked further into the room. Rijiin took a seat on the floor and lay back next to Natil who sat beside him, holding him with his head in her lap.
“Did you finish your task Rijiin?” Laurie asked, and she saw Rijiin turn his head to regard her for a moment, before he nodded his head.
“But at what cost?” The maiden thought, “A time of wandering, living in fear of this man who hunted him, causing his persecution in so many lands?” The Harper shook her head. Rijiin tried to sit up after a moment, a look of astonishment on his face.
“Relax Rijiin.” Natil told him, holding his head on her lap, “Rest.”
“We still have something that we have to finish.” He stammered, trying to get up a second time and yet the Harper held him down.
“Whatever it is, can wait, beloved.” Natil soothed, leaning down to kiss him on the lips. He grinned as he kissed her back. It was sweet and filled with promise, just as it had been long ago and now.
“You know we should really tell them.” He whispered, “Our good fortune should be their good fortune.”
Natil shook her head slightly, “Not yet beloved.” She replied, “We still have some time before we can make it official.”
Sana and the others had heard his statement, and her response, and a frown of question appeared on their faces. They suspected something was up, and it was not like the couple to keep something from the group. They had always shared events between them with the others at the home. Good or bad.
“What is he talking about Natil?” Sana asked, and the Harper frowned, making a face as she shook her head.
“Nothing.” She replied, “That needs to be disclosed right now.”
“Sure mistress Harper…” Marsh said, as he studied the expression, and he managed a smile at the furious blush she was trying to hide. Sana saw the exchanged glance and put her hands on her hips.
“Okay Natil, Okay Rijiin.” Sana said, “Spill it.” Natil made a face at Rijiin and her eyes twinkled brightly in the light. He managed a chuckle. He tried to hide a blush as well.
“Why don’t you tell them, beloved?” Natil whispered, “You are the one who brought it up.” Rijiin nodded in silent reply to the Harper.
“Well, it is not official, but it seems we will be having yet another addition to Elven home.” He murmured, “Kelly will have a playmate and companion pretty soon.”
“What does that mean?” Sana asked, frowning as did everyone around them.
“Kelly will have a playmate?” Marsh asked, glancing at Heather who sat beside him.
“Natil is… uh… expecting… uh… our… first child.” Rijiin said. His voice had been a barely audible whisper and he met the stunned looks of everyone’s faces. He grinned.
There was a long pause before a whoop of joy erupted from the group and Sana charged the Harper, embracing her warmly as she bounced around her. The group and chatter filled the room as congratulations moved all around.
“Alright Natil!” a voice said, “I am happy for you!”
“…So have you picked out a name yet?” Ash exclaimed happily, “Do you know what it is?”
“How long are you along?” Heather had asked, “You don’t look it!”
Many questions assaulted the couple and they exchanged a glance.
“We haven’t.” Natil said, “And we didn’t ask, we want a surprise.”
“It looks like it is time to break out the baby book again, Heather.” Marsh said casually and there was a laugh by Heather who was nodding. Pandemonium echoed through the living room as everyone was talking at once, excited for the couple’s news. There was laughter that followed and blushes by Natil and even Rijiin for the names they suggested.
“Do you have any names in mind?” Sana asked, and Natil and Rijiin both thought about it a moment.
“I always was fancy to William.” Rijiin said, “Or Varden, if you want to go Elven.” He said with an exhale and Natil caught his pensive expression to smile broadly. “Named after two of my friends that is… Name him, if a boy, William for William Wallace, whom I fought with in the battle of Scotland or maybe Varden, after our kinsman that Natil and I knew.
“I know, I miss him too, beloved.” She whispered, and he nodded.
“For females, Natil is considering Talla, Roxanne, or Charity.” He continued, making Natil nod, embracing her husband warmly.
“I kind of like David too.” Ash said with a smile, “As for Andrew or William, they are so common of names. Would you not want something that is Elven?”
“So very true, Ash.” Rijiin said with a bow and he eyed Katherine who sat silently nearby, looking out of the window nearby. As the discussion continued, Rijiin peered at the teenage girl they had brought to the home, their new friend who had been left to rot by her family in the hospital, an unwanted prisoner of a orphan’s home, or a guest of the Mexican Government now, but wasn’t thanks to the Elves.
“Cara or Talla are quite Elven enough, but if we have to get exotic, we will think of something.” Rijiin replied jokingly.
The Elf cast a glance at Katherine, who sipped at her cocoa, and peered out at the night through the window across the room. He had sensed a drop in her mood all night, and she seemed distant. Rijiin had risen from his place next to his beloved Harper, and walked toward her, placing a hand on her shoulder, making her turn her head and look up at him with a grim expression.
Rijiin studied Katherine silently, before he nodded to her. “I understand, but brooding about it does not help. It is best to talk it out. Remember there are twenty friendly ears here, Katherine, to help listen to you if you want to talk.”
“I know Rijiin.” She said with a sigh, and glanced at the others who were joking and joshing about names still. The conversation was getting silly with great mirth and great laughter echoed the room. “I was just thinking about my sisters.”
The Elf knelt beside her as she sat in the beanbag chair and he reached out to take Katherine’s hand. “Be at peace, Mistress, you are safe here, do you need to chat a bit about it?”
“I just feel that there could have been a different arrangement made.” Katherine said, and the Elf put his hand on her shoulder.
“I guess I just miss them.” She admitted.
“You are welcome here, beloved Katherine, like the others, always.” He said, “Do not fret… at least you are not a prisoner of Mexico, or in a halfway home. Remember, those same sisters denounced with your father, your existence and renewal to the world as living.” He said, “If you have a need, we will try to get you anything you want and support you all the way. Just remember that.” The Elf told her reassuringly, making her smile slightly.
“I wish I could see my middle sister, Theresa.” Katherine said, “I know she did not agree with Barb’s decision. She was just following my father’s decision.”
“I totally understand and agree.” He said, “I’ll see what I can do, as a third party, interested in a peaceful resolution.” The elf grinned as she looked up with a bright expression on her face.
“Would you?” She stammered and the Elf smiled as he nodded. Natil turned her head and Katherine met the questioning expression of Rijiin’s wife with a slight smile and nod.
“If you need another cocoa, by the way, let me know, and I will get it for you.” He said absently and she glanced down at the almost empty cup. Her eyes showed an astonished expression. She still did not know what to make of Rijiin as he smiled, nodded and resumed his discussion with the group around her.
“This is getting weird.” Katherine murmured and shook her head before resuming her gaze at the window and the night sky. Still in wonder where this was going to lead to.
Like clockwork on Monday, everyone left for their jobs in Denver, and even Katherine had joined Natil and Rijiin at their jobs. She was set about enrolling in the local High School near Kingsley College located in the city to finish up her schooling.
As she joined them on the bus, she nervously glanced at her friends who sat together in silence, hand in hand as they always were, since his coming to Denver. Natil glanced at her, sensing her nervousness, shaking her head in silence at the young girl.
“Be at peace, you will be magnificent.” She said, “You have to finish up your two years. It will be over before you know it.”
As the bus continued on its way, it finally arrived at the stop for Kingsley College where they all got off.
“I am not due back to work until tomorrow, beloved.” He said, “I will see to Katherine and her education. I will be back here in an hour, and meet you for lunch in a while.”
“I will see you here then.” Natil said, and half turned to scan the campus in which she called home. It strangely was empty, the campus usually busy in mid quarter, but no one seemed to be around. Both the Elves exchanged a puzzled glance at each other.
Natil smiled when she saw Ramon, one of her crew and he ran toward the Harper, embracing her warmly, kissing her hands.
“Welcome home, Boss.” He said, as the others ran toward and clustered around her. She laughed as they greeted her warmly. She spoke Spanish to them, thanking them. She walked toward her shed, and began giving out work assignments to her crew who smiled openly, glad to have her back. Rijiin turned as he motioned to Katherine, and he escorted her from the campus. They walked down the street to the local High School that was not far away from Natil and Rijiin’s work.
“Just do your best, mistress. If you have trouble let me know, I remember my nightmare of High School too well in California.” He said, “I can and offer my help anytime you need.”
“Thanks Rijiin.” Katherine said as he walked with her to the office, and together they stepped through the door.
“May I help you, the Secretary asked, and the Elf bowed slightly to her. “Aye, I am here with my daughter, to enroll her as a new student.” He said formally and the woman smiled.
“Outstanding. Welcome.” She said, “What is your daughter’s name? Miss?”
Rijiin’s mind raced, he could hardly use Katherine Grace, that person who was back from the living, but dead to the family who had denounced her existence. He didn’t have an answer to the secretary’s question.
“This is going to be difficult.” He thought, but before he could answer, the young woman stepped forward and blurted out an answer from her own mouth.
“Katherine L’Theil.” She said, and it made Rijiin gasp. After a moment, however, a huge smile appeared on his face a moment later. He accepted papers from the woman and he began filling them out.
“Good call, beloved.” He whispered quietly.
“Do you have any transcripts?”
“Los Angeles High School.” Katherine answered, “Under Grace, Katherine. Katherine L’Theil is my adopted name.”
The woman nodded and smiled. “We’ll have you enrolled soon, Miss L’Theil. Take a seat as we process.”
The Elf and Katherine sat in the office, as students entered and exited, as did teachers. A couple of students and staff walked past Rijiin and eyed him curiously. They peered at the youthful face and then to Katherine in wonder. It made Katherine nervous, and uneasy. Rijiin sensed it too, but he chose to ignore it.
“Steady, mistress.” The Elf whispered, “All will be well. They just do not know you yet, be at peace.”
“I know Rijiin.” She replied as the secretary walked back to the counter and motioned to them. She handed Katherine a piece of paper and she studied it for her classes as a sophomore Classman. She managed a nervous sigh as she turned, nodding to Rijiin.
“All done. Your first class for today should be History.” The Secretary said, “Books will be issued when you get to each class. Right now, it would be English.”
“Great!” Katherine said elated, and she was smiling openly. Rijiin handed her a few bills.
“I know you have money in your account, but we didn’t have time to get to a bank. Here is some cash for lunch.”
Katherine peered at the young elf and embraced him warmly. “Thanks Rijiin, for everything.”
“It is my pleasure, Arn tinu.” He said formally, making Katherine gasp, but nod.
“I like that.” She said, “I will see you this afternoon, Arn Atar.”
The elf gasped at the Elvish words, and met her smile in silent wonder.
“Have fun.” Rijiin said and he watched her depart. Rijiin bowed slightly to the secretary who watched the tender scene, and he walked purposely toward the door to exit.
Walking back the street quickly he returned to Kingsley, walking on the campus, and toward the shack belonging to Natil where he would meet her to take her for lunch. Little did they know, however, that Theresa Grace would be in Denver and her mission was to find her sister who had literally vanished from the world. But at the moment, Rijiin met his wife with a warm embrace, and a kiss on her lips.
“Are you all done that quickly?” Natil asked, and Rijiin smiled as he nodded warmly to her.
“Done.” He replied, “We should talk about something over lunch though, “Something that might surprise you, so be warned.” Natil gasped and turned her head.
“Alright, what’s on your mind?” She asked, and he motioned to her.
“Let’s talk over lunch.” He said and glanced at his watch, nodding to her. The elf took up her hand and walked hand-in-hand toward the cafeteria on campus with her.
When they entered the cafeteria, no one seemed to notice them as they walked to the far end of the large chamber, and as they took up a large tray. Both ordered a quick sandwich as always and they took a seat nearby in the now crowded cafeteria.
A moment later there was a cheer, as a banner was held up and whistles as the people in the cafeteria cheered and applauded for the Elves who sat stunned, looking about the room. They saw the banner, ‘Welcome home, Rijiin and Natil.’ Both exchanged a glance and then both laughed as they stood and people gathered around them. Handshakes, hugs, embraces and backslaps went all around as the Elves were welcomed home to Kingsley in grand manner by students and staff who waited for their return from their unexpected long honeymoon.
Other students applauded as a cake was brought out and Natil fought down a smile, and blushed seeing the cake.
“Welcome home you two!” A voice said as Dean Del Mari approached and shook their hands warmly.
“Oh my word…” She said, “You all didn’t have to do that.”
“It is our pleasure, master gardener and Mister L’Theil.” A staff member said, and they sat it on the table, as applause thundered in the cafeteria.
“Thank you all.” Rijiin said formally, and he took up the knife, cutting the cake quickly. It served the students, staff and many more who were in the cafeteria, with some to spare. He and Natil felt honored by the recognition for their return to Kingsley.
They never got to talk about what Rijiin planned for Katherine, and what he wanted to do about her future with them. He was going to suggest adoption of the sixteen year old, and make it official. But the celebration of their return had interrupted his train of thought.
After lunch, he walked with Natil back to her shed, and then went over to the lab in which he worked in the Information Technology Department. It is here that he sat at his desk, typing memos and e-mails, also answering all the mail that had accumulated for him at the college.
Hours later, he stood up and stretched, glancing at the clock. Three o’Clock it read and Rijiin grimaced, remembering it was time for Katherine to arrive at the college. He looked up and was about to go meet her at the entrance of Kingsley, but there she was standing with her a handful of books. She smiled at the Elf.
“How was your day, Katherine?” Rijiin asked sweetly.
“Harsh.” Katherine replied, “I didn’t fit in very well, and got in a couple of fights over stupid shit.”
“I am sorry to hear that.” Rijiin said, motioning to her, and she entered the office, taking a seat in the only extra chair located between the battered filing cabinets stuffed in his little office.
“There would be nothing to talk about, Rijiin.” The young woman said, “I was an outcast, my first day and alone.”
“I understand.” He elf replied, “Be at peace, they have yet to get to know you, it may take them some time, you have to allow for that to happen. Do not let ignorance and stupidity rule the day.”
“That’s easy for you to say.” She replied, and he grimaced, shaking his head.
“I was like you in many ways, outcast and alone. I was hated for no rhyme or reason.” The Elf replied, “I know what it is like to be alone.”
“You?” Katherine gasped, and the Elf nodded slightly.
“What did you do?” She asked, “How did you overcome?”
“I turned my back on them and walked away and did my own thing, did my time and immersed myself in my studies, and my writing.” The Elf replied, “That is one thing they could not ever interfere with when I was busy composing. I could snub them and not answer them or pay attention to them. So much so that they would get angry and offended but usually left me alone.”
“How would that work for me, Rijiin?”
“Immerse yourself in your talents, things you like to do.” Rijiin advised, “Something that they cannot interfere with and take away from your time and cause harm with their comments. They eventually will go away and leave you alone.”
“You know I’ll try that.” Katherine said, “I like map reading, and navigation. I’ll try to do something and study something that takes up so much time that I don’t have time for anyone else. I like to fly too, maybe I should study for my private pilot’s license.”
“Exactly.” Rijiin replied, “Whatever you want, babe, I’ll back you up fully.” He nodded.
Rijiin was still concerned by the unfavorable report by Katherine, that she had been treated so poorly by the others. He was concerned that she might not heed his words and try to fight back and try to take them on in which she would find trouble than resolution.
“What can I do to make it better for her?” The Elf asked himself and he pondered the question as he assisted her with her school work.
“She needs to know that things will not be as bad as they were today.” The Elf thought, “It will be hard to convey that over what happened today.”
Rijiin shook his head at his thoughts and he glanced repeated times at the young woman whom he considered to be his daughter.
“Hmmm, what we always have with humans and their dark emotions.” The Elf thought, and he grimaced, picking up a book to read while she worked, helping her with her homework. He looked up to see Natil standing in the doorway a few minutes later.
“By our lady…! Five o’clock already?” Rijiin mused and glancing at the clock it showed the time that confirmed the answer he sought. He turned to the young woman at his desk.
“It’s time to leave, get ready.” He told Katherine, and she packed in her books. The maiden smiled at Natil.
A half hour elapsed, and they soon were walking together across the sprawling campus of Kingsley in which the trio headed toward the battered blue van belonging to Hadden and Tree Star parked nearby. As they boarded the Harper took up the driver’s seat, turning over the motor and shifting into gear. Together they sped off down the highway to get off at the second to last stop before the main highway, picking up Mimi and Becky at their jobs before heading to the mountains together.
They sat in a parking lot as Mouse and Becky boarded the van, and the dark clouds billowed above them and the city of Denver, threatening a storm.
“Cold enough for you?” Mimi asked, as she boarded the van and there were chuckles by the occupants.
“Colder than a witch’s titty, on glass.” Becky commented, “It must be seventeen degrees.”
“Or colder.” Rijiin replied, “Nothing like a warm fireplace at the Home and hot cocoa for all of us.”
“MMM, that sounds delightful.” Mimi replied, “Do we need anything in the way of supplies? I’ll spring for it.”
“No, we should be good in the way of supplies, beloved Mimitti. We should be at the home before the storm hits or lest we will be stuck in the snow on the way.” Natil replied, as she merged onto the highway. They drove as snow began to fall upon them near the edge of the mountains.
“By our Lady, just what we need. Watch for ice beloved, with conditions like this it can get dangerous.” Rijiin warned, “Especially as it gets dark.”
“That’s for sure.” Natil said turning the wheel as the van started to slide. She straightened out the van and drove onward, as snow began to fall on them in a thicker curtain. The blue van continued to slide left and right down the road, making Natil compensate with each slide, slowing until the wheels grabbed onto the dry pavement. Behind them, everyone just held on for dear life, as Rijiin continued to watch ahead, despite the thick falling snow.
“There’s the turn off.” Rijiin prompted.
“I can barely see it.” Natil replied, “But here it goes.” She hit the turn signal, and slowed, to turn the van but it slid around in the snow, its wheels spinning.
“Whoa.” Rijiin said sharply, “Watch it babe, its going to be slick.”
“I know.” Natil replied, nodding, “Hold on everyone. It’s going to get rough from here.”
“Jesus, can this beast even make it?” Mimi asked, her tone showing fear. She referred to the battered blue van that was their wheels on this cold night, heading to Elven Home.
“Be at peace, it has never failed before.” Natil said, as the van disappeared into the woods on the makeshift road that went up the hill toward the home.
The van bounced, slid, and skidded as it continued forward through the woods along the road made to get to Elven Home. When they pulled into the clearing, everyone sigh a great relief seeing the shimmering glow of the home in the dark background by the trees. As they opened the door to the van that a cold wind whipped through the trees and across the clearing, making the temperature drop even further.
“Damn…” Becky grumbled, “I swear it’s much colder.”
“Let’s get inside.” Natil said, leading them to the home where they entered the pseudo warm interior. Rijiin turned on the light and moved to the fireplace, quickly lighting and stocking it. Warmth flooded the living room. The group was in the kitchen, sitting on the barstools taking in a light dinner as he worked and he joined them shortly after.
After dinner, the group adjourned to the living room where they sat listening to music and they chatted informally among themselves. Rijiin held his wife warmly in his arms, as they listened to the crackle of the fire and stared into the flames, hardly speaking between the both of them. As the Elf stared at the fire, however, he began thinking of the past when he wandered through history, through many lands. He thought of many people he had met in history, whose faces appeared and disappeared like ghosts in the smoke of the fire. He thought of William Wallace, Henry Caisson, Joan of Arc, Robert the Bruce and countless others that had been through history whom he had met and enlisted in their ranks to fight along side in their causes and see them die in which history had been portrayed.
“By our lady that was a long time ago.” The Elf thought, grimacing at such memories. “I thought I had forgotten them, but alas it appears I have not. Perhaps I miss them a little, as soldiers, in a familiar hostile world.”
“Rijiin? Are you alright?” A voice asked, and he turned his head, meeting the perplexed frown of Natil, his wife, who had sensed the drop in his mood and having seen the grimace on his face. He nodded his head in reply to her.
“Fine beloved,” He replied, “I was just…” But before he could answer her further that he turned his head to stare at the window where lights flashed against the wall, making shadows upon the walls. He had heard the approach of vehicles coming up the road toward the home.
“Hmmm, it seems we have company.” The Elf said solemnly, glancing at Natil who frowned and nodded her head slowly. Getting up, he went to the stairs leading to the basement, converted into his office, and he grabbed his blade, checking the edge as he returned to the foyer and walked toward the front door.
“What are you going to do, beloved?” The Harper asked, glancing at Katherine who stared in confusion at Rijiin, who was about to go out and meet the visitors head on.
“I am going to meet our visitors.”
“That might be the others coming to the home, if it is, try to give them a warm reception instead of the reply of cold steel.” Natil advised.
Rijiin grimaced, but nodded slowly.
“If it is not, I will welcome them with the fear and cold revenge of Elven Magic.” He replied as he disappeared through the door into the darkness.
Outside he stood in the darkness, blinking his eyes a couple of times to orient himself to the darkness around him, and the moonless night from which made up this cold winter’s night. Turning his head, his eyes quickly fell on the three vehicles that lay in the clearing not far from the home that seemed to glow in the darkness from its many windows.
Rijiin drew his blade sharply, as people approached the home, and with one step he stepped into the light, placing the blade across his arm. The group who had come from the vehicles stopped in the open snow and a gasp echoed in the open air.
"Who is it that treads on holy ground?" The Elf challenged, holding his blade ready as the group stepped closer.
“Rijiin?” Sana asked, “Rijiin! It’s me Sana. It’s us.”
Rijiin lowered the blade, and sheathed it quickly. It was the others. The other Elves, all nineteen of them had come to the home. But it was Wednesday, and Rijiin suspected that something had happened, to bring them to the home in the middle of the week. He counted and everyone was present. The Elf stood there confused.
“Jesus Rijiin, how long have you been there, creeping in the night?” Laurie asked sarcastically, “Sheesh with a challenge like that who needs it to be snowing and cold?”
The others chuckled quietly among themselves.
“My apologies.” Rijiin replied, “It’s a Wednesday night, I wasn’t expecting all of you here.”
“It is okay.” Hadden replied, placing a hand on his shoulder, “I know you had other concerns. You were only looking after the place which is appreciated.” Rijiin replied with a nod.
When they all entered the home, they were greeted warmly by Mimi, Becky and Natil. Hot cocoa was distributed to all, and coffee in which they all got comfortable.
“So, it’s Wednesday, so what brings you all up here?” Natil asked, “It’s unlike everyone to come in the middle of the week.”
“Did you all just need a holiday from the grind of Denver?” Natil asked, “Or did something happen? The last time we gathered was when Heather was shot.”
“No. everything is fine. We just needed to gather.” Hadden replied, “Sometime there is a need for enlightenment and encouragement among friends, if not family.”
The Harper sensed the low mood in the room and turning at the nudge of Rijiin, she glanced at him, smiling, knowing what he was thinking for her to do about it.
“What they need is a little music.” Rijiin murmured, “Something for a little helping and healing of the soul.”
“I agree.” She replied, “A very fine idea indeed.”
The young maiden disappeared into their room and soon returned after fetching her old harp. As she took a seat in the center of the circle of the group, her hands moved across the bronze strings with a ripple of notes, pausing as she tuned it.
The others turned and stopped at ripple of notes, and they grinned as the young Maiden began to play a healing melody for them all. They all listened to it in silence. Rijiin quickly went out between songs and fetched his soprano sax and as he put it together, soon he provided a melody to Natil’s notes. There were smiles on everyone’s faces, especially Mimi and Becky’s as the couple played together.
Natil and Rijiin played together for a half hour, hitting a few Kenny G tunes, in which he played the melody and she provided the backup. When they were finished there was silence in the room, except for the sprinkle of applause by the others in the room with them. When they did Christmas music, Cantique de Noel, they played, and there was stunned silence, as energy surrounded them and a smile appearing on Natil’s face as it swirled around them. Tears appeared on the faces of the other Elves, as such beauty filled them room and them full of peace.
“Ele, Elea, Rijiini.” Natil complimented, and he nodded silently to her. The Elves played far into the night, the melody a healing one as it seemed to uplift the very soul. A melody that was played many times as Rijiin traveled the world, among hostile places that would have considered his music as witch’s music. And when dawn encroached on the eastern sky, that they all adjourned on the outside, amidst the new snow that had fallen and they watched the red, blue, orange and yellows as the sun peeked on the horizon of morning.
“Glorious.” Hadden said, as he stared at the sky, at the thick white clouds and the field off white that now surrounded the home.
“Wheee!” Kelly said sharply, smiling at the snow. She and the others ran out into it, laughing and throwing it at each other. Some were making snow Elves (Laughingly doing so). Rijiin, Natil and Katherine joined them and the young woman threw a snowball at Rijiin, striking him on the back. There was great mirth that followed. Of course Natil’s husband grabbed a shovel and began clearing off the cement walkways of snow as the others played.
A month rapidly went by, and Natil, now showing a little more went to work as usual with Rijiin as Katherine went to school. Little did anyone know that Katherine’s middle sister, Theresa has come to Denver again looking for Katherine, despite the wishes of Rosa, the eldest, and their father who still pilots a ship to Mexico. She wanted to see her sister, who was confirmed to be alive and well a month ago, but had also been outcast from her family accused of being an imposter. Who had disappeared off the face of the planet, since their summoning to Cabo, to the Hospital to find her alive and well. As she got off the plane, she stepped out onto the atrium and walked up into the terminal. She carried a small suitcase with her.
Theresa had no idea where to start looking, but something had brought her to this place, after contacting Sam Gray in Mexico City in which she was told that her sister had left with Rijiin and Natil. Here she managed a frown, grimacing at the sight before her, at the mountains in the distance of Denver and wondering why on Earth that her sister would come to this place and not forcefully come home.
“Well she can’t, Barb wouldn’t let her or lest we lose the money for her death.” Theresa thought, shaking her head. It had always been money and greed when it came to the family. Now she was in an alien city, looking for a needle in a haystack.
“How I should start is to probably track down that couple, the L’Theils.” She thought, “…And go from there. She was only sixteen. They might be holding her for as a sex slave or something.”
Walking down the corridor of Stapleton Airport, she took a bus to the city, finding a motel near the airport. She found a phone book and tried looking them up only to find they were not listed.
“This isn’t going to be easy.” Thought the young girl and walked down the corridor to ground transportation where she got a cab to the downtown hotel where she was staying and where she would start looking in the morning.
Meanwhile, Katherine walked to the college from her school, not far away, and waited for Rijiin and Natil. She got a part time job here in Denver in which she had money to spend. As she waited in the shed for Natil, she did her homework quickly and easily, using the Harper’s desk. She was busily scribbling as Rijiin entered the building.
“Hi Katherine.” Rijiin said, as he entered and she looked up to nod a greeting to him.
“Hi Rijiin.” She replied sweetly.
“Where’s Natil?” He asked, “Not here yet?”
Katherine managed a shrug. “I just got here. I suspect she’s still out on Kingsley’s Campus somewhere.”
“Ah.” He replied, heading toward the door, and here he peered out of the window beside it. A cold snow and ice still blanketed Denver and thankfully it was Friday night. Everyone would gather at the Home tonight, just as they always had. Katherine thus far had been enjoying her exile from her family at the Home, and the unique personalities among the elves.
“It will be good to be with the others and in our sanctuary.” Rijiin thought and nodded slightly in private approval. He turned his head as Natil appeared at the door and he moved aside, letting her enter, but not without a warm embrace.
“It was getting cold out there, are you alright Natil?” Rijiin asked, and she shot him a questioning glance.
“No problems here.” She replied, moving to her desk in which Katherine relinquished quickly. As she did her paperwork in silence, Natil’s husband watched her with their soon to be adopted daughter. Rijiin sensed something was amiss and he glanced at the young woman who was frowning, as-if to sense the same feeling. Both had a feeling of doom and gloom from the Harper, now showing a couple of months with Rijiin and her first child. She was acting peculiar, like something was wrong but the both of them could not seem to put a finger on what was going on.
What Rijiin and Katherine both sensed, was her withdrawal, and felt the cold chill they got being around her. Both of them glanced at each other in silence, in which Katherine only managed a shrug and he nodded silently in agreement. Rijiin cocked his head in silent concern for his wife’s strange behavior on this cold blustery night. She was a little disoriented and down during her pregnancy with Rijiin and her child. It was just a normal phase of the natural cycle of life.
Fifteen minutes later, after she was done, this time Rijiin drove Hadden’s battered blue van down the road. He held the steering column, gripping it tightly as they sped down the highway, and getting off they stopped in two places, picking up Mouse, Becky, TK and Rags on the way to the home. As they sped down the highway, they are unaware in the next few minutes that the drive would be and almost cost them their lives.
At first it had been a simple slip. The van hit a black ice patch, and the wheels slipped on the pavement. The van careened sideways, making Rijiin gasp and grip the steering wheel hard as he fought to regain control of the vehicle. He turned the steering wheel right and left many times compensating quickly for the slide as the van’s back tires fish-tailed, slid and screeched along the pavement.
“Whoa!” He called, “Everyone hold on and buckle up, its ice and its going to be slick!”
Those were the last words to be said as the sound of squealing tires could be heard from the interior. Rijiin fought to control the vehicle quickly, turning the steering wheel rapidly left and right, compensating for the slide, quickly trying to regain control to no avail. Outside they could hear the tires squeal many times as he touched the brake. A second later, the van was on its side, as the occupants inside rattled and were thrown around the interior. The van careened and rolled multiple times before it came to a stop one hundred feet from the spot where it went over onto its side. Silence followed as other drivers stopped and ran toward the wrecks, helping those who could be helped.
When Natil finally opened her eyes, she lay on a blanket outside, staring up at a tarp that had been setup to cover her and the others against the snow. She lies next to the ambulance that is parked near the accident, its lights flashing and as she lay there she felt tingly from her back to her legs. The young Harper shifted herself slightly trying to move and found that she found not from the waist down, restrained to a board with straps. Becky and Katherine sat over her as she lay there and turning her head, the Harper met their worried expressions with a small pained smile.
“Natil!” Becky gasped, placing her hand in the Harper’s hand, noticing she was awake. She embraced the young Harper warmly.
“Natili!” Katherine also said, at the same time, and she did the same motion, embracing her friend and soon to be adopted parent.
“You’ve been hurt, don’t move.” Katherine warned, “Very seriously.”
“Where are we? What happened?”
“It seems we had an accident, Rijiin tried to recover when we hit some black ice and did, but lost it when we hit another patch and the van rolled over.” Katherine explained, motioning to her arm that now hung in a sling.
“We’re all banged up but alive.” She said, “Thanks to Rijiin.”
“H-how’s Mimi and TK?” Natil gasped, as she tried to sit up again and found she could not move. “S-say what’s wrong with me?”
“You are hurt badly Natil, rest.” Katherine said, “Worse than all of us. There is a doctor here. He says you might be temporarily paralyzed.”
“What about my child?” The Harper asked, and Becky managed a grim smile despite the pain, anguish and chaos that seemed to be going around her.
“It’s fine.” Becky soothed, “We’re going to the hospital soon, and they are trying to free TK and Mimi from the van right now.”
The Harper saw the yellow tarps on the ground nearby and she grimaced realized it was a tarp to cover a body lying in the snow. The van had rolled into on coming traffic and had clipped several cars as it spun out of control on its journey to its final resting place. It had literally smashed into several cars to end up on top of one of them. Natil had a sinking feeling seeing the tarp.
“Rijiin? How’s Rijiin?” Natil gasped, her voice pained as she struggled to move.
“Dead?” Natil asked suddenly, almost discouraged.
“Uh…” Katherine began and glanced at Becky who had a grimace on her face as well.
“What are you not trying to tell me?” Natil asked, almost demanded, and gritted her teeth as she used her arms to proper herself up. She regarded Katherine with a silent frown.
“I-I…” Katherine began and tears formed in her eyes.
“I-I can’t.” She said, tears streaming down her face.
“Oh dear lady,” Natil murmured, “It cannot be.”
Katherine and Becky had seen them pull Rijiin’s body from the smashed wreckage of the van that lay on its side. As they covered him with a tarp, the two were stunned to see the half mutilated body that made up Rijiin’s body.
They did not see the glow under the tarp, as the Elven Magic formed around his body.
As he lay there, Rijiin was on the threshold of the grassy plain, before the woman in blue and silver, as her healing powers struck him, enveloping his entire being. As fifteen minutes elapsed, he finally lay on the grass, unmoving until he opened his eyes slowly, his vision focusing on the stars above him as the woman had a deep concern in her gray eyes, flicking brightly with starlight.
“Rijiin.” She whispered, “My beloved son, Rijiin, be healed, be whole. You must awake and rise.”
He turned his head, and he saw her concerned look as she knelt beside him. She put her small hand on his chest.
“Am I healed?” Rijiin whispered, lying on his back in the grass of the plain.
“You are indeed, are you alright?” She asked, and he shivered.
“I am, what about the accident?” He started to say and she shook her head.
“Be at peace, my son.” She said, “You are safe, and you are healed. Your immortal body is now healed and you are in no danger. You should return, lest the others think you are deceased and worry so.”
“You have my thanks, my lady.” He said, “I owe you big this time.”
“You need not owe me. I do it out of love for you and all my children.” She said solemnly, “I am pleased you thought of the others, to act in this capacity, and everyone is safe. You are not expendable though, and must return, your daughters need a dad and my beloved Harper needs a husband. You must rise and return.”
Rijiin smiled, as he slowly sat up, and glanced down at his now healed body. He felt recharged and whole again, the pain vanished as her power was great to heal him. Standing on his feet, he embraced her, kneeling before her still covered in the bloody clothes that he wore on his body. Limbs, that were torn off, and ground flesh was repaired as if nothing had happened.
A few minutes more elapsed as the energy that surrounded him climaxed brightly, and faded around him. He smiled as he nodded to her in thanks, watching her intently as she raised her arm, pointing at him and the meadow vanishing around him.
He opened his eyes, lying on the cold ground and in the blood-covered grass where he had placed next to an ambulance that was to take him and several others to the morgue. As he lay there, he let out a breath, as he tried to move his arms, and legs, pushing back the yellow tarp. He sat up slowly, turning his head to scan the dimly lit surroundings, as the lights of the sirens and the safety lights of the open back illuminated the snow-covered ground. Other tarps covered bodies lying on the ground where he had just been placed too.
He shivered as he stood up, crouching a moment before he stood up. He spied Becky, and Katherine near Natil, as they knelt beside her. Natil lay on the ground, covered in a blanket. He examined the few others, and grimaced seeing the mutilated crushed body of the humans that had been in the cars where the van had come to rest upon the top of them or had smashed them in its journey to its final destination.
“By our lady! What a mess.” He murmured, realizing they were gone and he could do nothing for them.
“Natil!” He muttered, as he walked toward her, but paused, as he knelt down to quickly fold down the yellow tarp neatly, smiling as he chuckled quietly.
“He’s dead, Natil!” Katherine sobbed, as she knelt beside his beloved Harper. He frowned as she said it, seeing the tears of Becky and even Natil who wept quietly.
Rijiin sensed she was really hurt and he walking toward the trio, he glanced at the van as they carefully cut the doors, allowing extraction of Mimi and TK.
He let out a sigh and neigh of disgust at the damage inflicted on the several cars that the van had hit and came to rest upon.
“…I don’t know what we’re going to do now.” Katherine was saying and he frowned, remembering her statement about his death.
“I’m hardly that my daughter.” He said, and there was a pause. Blinking suddenly, Katherine and Becky glanced at each other then at Natil who gasped like the others they all turned to see Rijiin standing nearby, leaning at the side of the ambulance, using it as a crutch. Apparently he was healed again of his wounds, the non-seriousness faded away, and the starlight strong in his voice and body.
“Rijiin!” Katherine and Becky gasped. They saw him approach and he embraced them warmly.