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Forest Bower VII

Mon Jun 27 2022 12:27:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

Having been supplied with their allotment the royal party and followers set to the task of building a new homeland. They hewed great trees and joined them with pegs, for iron was scarce in that region. Food waas easier to obtain. Endless heards of giant fauna grazaed in clearings in the great forest. Our lad proved to be a great hunter. Though their bows were of magic power the human lad showed great skill in wielding them and nearly every time returned with the greatest haul of bush meat. His unlooked for skill lent him renown, but jealous men whispered that his ability was caused by a dangerous blood lust.

In due time the lad was married to the princess, uniting them forever in rule and love. It was the first time a union was made between the disparate races, but the elders caustiously approved, for as they said, "We are not true aliens, but cousins of the distant past." Time would tell what mixture of love and sorrow this union was to bring.

Some also also questioned their union due to the uncertainty of raising princlings in the barely settled, half-wild land, but the lad rebuked them saying: "What future are we building, if there are no children to carry it?", Though this seemed strange to ammortals their was some truth in it. Long lives also end, whether by sickness in mortals, violence, or despair in ammortals.

As the pessimistic had predicted. Danger soon came from the corrupted peoples. They began their attacks with stealth, but when their threats were countered. The captain Guthkyo challenged the ammortals to face his men in open battle. Eager to cast down the barbaric foe, the lad and his princes gathered their kinsman, vassals, and followers. As this was to be the lads first great combat, his princess now feared greatly for her husband.

"Do you not feat the horros and death of war?" The lady asked her husband.

"I fear not, my duty is to my people, and my princess. Death comes when it wishes. In truth though, I have not tasted the bloodbath so I cannot know to fear it. My people lived at peace, in a peaceful lands. Our sharpest swords were foul words."

A shadow crossed her face. Indeed, his courage was a noble sentiment, but it did little to dismiss her fears.

Though skilled and powerful, the immortal people feared death by the sword far beyond the mortal comprehenision. For death to them was a hard chance and a robbing of their unending years, not the inevitability that mortals face. Further, they cared overmuch about their present ammortal life and knew little of life beyond death. Later as she turned her fears in her mind his brashness tore at her heart. Weeping, she found her foster-mother. "What can I do," she asked, "to prevent my mortal love from further shortening his life."

"Mortals are a different race, you must be patient with their oddities. It is the risk you took by choosing to love one."

"Twas hardly a choice; and what a hard punishment!"

"Life touched by mortals will be a hard one." I too am devoted to him as a subject and his inevitable death pains me too. Though such is the order of life -- I should not and would not change that order."

When her husband met her agian, she whitened with anxiety. Her foster-mother's words had done nothing to allay her fear, rather, they increased it by mentioning the foolishness of mortals.

"What taxes you, my dear," he asked.

"It is nothing . . . only the danger you face.", she replied, with a touch of sarcasm.

"Fear not for me, if I die for our people it is a gift happily given.

"But what of me!"

"In victory you will be my exalted partner, and should I fail, you will be well cared for. If I chance to lose my life, it will be but a scratch in your ammortal existence."

Anger welled up in her heart at this and she grimaced and returned to her work. What he said was true, but a mortal urgency for the joys of life was growing on her, and his carelessness was infuriating."

Later on she consulted with her maid on the affairs of the day and mentioned the quarrel. The servant, wise beyond her age, consoled her lady with an ancient proverb. "Though your winding path be over thorns and ice, the ground beneath your feet will see you to the end. The elders say that even the thorns and ice that support you would be preferable to the softest turf." The lady could not deny the wisdom of the proverb or the elders, yet as she watched her people and her lad prepare for the campaign she couldn't banish the fear that gripped her. Oh! How many immortal lives would be cut off or scared forever. And would he . . . her mortal man . . . would his life to be ended? Coldness gripped the lad as well. Was his zest for battle leading him into irresponsible combat? Even in his peacfeul youth he had dreamed of fighting . . . for anything. Yes she would be cared for, but shouldn't he leave the art of warfare to his more experienced ammortal subjects -- or at least wait until he had recieved better training?

So great was his distress, he sought the confidence of one of his foreign councillors, a noble renowned for his wisdom and battles, "Should I be guarding myself more carefully Ildevause?"

"Why should you? You are a lord. You must protect your people and destroy their foes!"

"But my subjects . . . and my queen . . . fear for me and I live for her, or rather them."

"So do all queens. Don't let your devotion stop you from risking death for her, she'll miss you, fear for you for a day or two, but will survive until your return. In truth she should not even fear for you. Scars are an honour, and if your tales are true, the misfortune of death is not even oblivion. So, fight boldy." "If only she would say this." the lad exclaimed bitterly.

"In truth she fears more for herself than you. Don't worry, tis only natural. Especially in one so young as her ( in those circles a woman of 300 was still considered "so young")."

"That is as I thought. Then I'll fight as I may. I'll leave her alone for a few days, and perhaps return a hero." But his voice faltered as he spoke. Leaving forever would be a tough fortune, and her selfishness, common in mortals, contrasted sharply with the iron selfness that was normal in her people. Was his flawed mortal nature infecting his princess?

The next day, when the lad finally farewell to his queen, it was with a dimmed eye and a cold embrace. As he set out into the depths of the forest his heart was also gripped by anxity for the coming battle and fear that he could not return to her directly.