Elian tugged Mera along behind him, wearily trudging through the trees. A quick glance behind him told him that Tsir and Shard were still there. It had been three days since the troll and shadow-spawn had attacked him, and since Tsir’s mysterious injuries.
The journey had been rough, over the uneven forest floor, up and down a number of inclines and down clines. Add to that the fact that two of the company were recovering from injuries, and it makes for tough going.
All of a sudden, the surrounding trees had vanished, and the city of Ixion lay spread out below them. Far off into the distance, the palace of the Koles rose into the sky, its towers and turrets higher than any other building in the city. That was where Aria was being held. That was where they needed to reach.
Elian and Tsir crouched on the palace wall. Shard had remained in the streets of the city, attempting to glean information from the inn goers and street merchants. Elian’s sharp eyesight picked out every minute detail of the courtyard in front of them. Guards marched in concentric circles, and others still stood guarding entrances, doorways, gates and some even acted as escorts to the palaces inhabitants. There was no sign of any of the Koles.
They had heard one of the guards mention the fact that the holding cells were nearer the back of the palace, and that was where Aria was likely being held. They needed to scout out the opposition first, and the possible entry routes should they decide to attempt a rescue.
A guard spotted them on the wall and yelled at them to get down. They quickly dropped from the wall and began to make their way to the back of the palace. Ugly iron bars covered the windows here. It looked exactly like what it was; a prison. Elian glanced up at the many windows, not paying any particular attention.
He caught a glimpse of someone standing at one of the windows, looking out. Then they were gone. He was sure it had been Aria.
“Tsir, I think I just saw Aria at that window”, he said, indicating the barred glass. Tsir nodded. “As did I”.
“So we know where we need to be”.
Tsir nodded. They turned and started walking down the street, however, their path was soon blocked by a figure in a green hooded cloak.
“Elian?” the cloaked figure asked. Elian nodded, unsure as to whom the stranger was. They pulled down their hood. It was a woman, her long black hair draping both sides of her face and falling down to the small of her back. Her features were pointed, her skin smooth. She was beautiful.
“I thought it was you, it’s been so long!” she exclaimed, throwing her arms around him and hugging him tight. Elian saw Tsir smirk at the affection behind he back.
“Sorry to be rude, but who are you?” Elian asked.
“What do you mean who am I? You know who I am”.
“I’m afraid not. If I knew you long ago, I have forgotten you. I have forgotten everything of my former life, before my exile. I lost my memory in battle”.
“You forgot everything? Everyone?”
“Everything and everyone”.
“Well we need to jog your memory. Will you join me for a drink in the inn?”
Elian nodded and began to follow the mysterious girl. Tsir nodded and disappeared down a side street, gone to find Shard and leaving Elian to rediscover his past alone.
Elian took a large swig of ale, the placed his tankard back on the table. The woman was sitting opposite him, her eyes seeming to see through him as she perused him.
“So who are you?” Elian asked. The woman pushed her black hair back behind her ear, and for the first time, Elian noticed that they were pointed. She was an elf.
“My name is Laya, I am your sister”.
Elian’s mouth dropped open. He was sitting with some of his family, as far from the woodlands and the location of the elven kingdoms as possible. What was she doing here?
“M-my sister?” Elian asked, incredulous.
“Your sister, younger by five hundred years”.
“I-I can’t believe it... What are you doing here?”
“I am exploring some of the world, I wanted to get out of the city for a while. And to be honest, I hoped to find you, I miss you Elian”.
“I am sorry, but I cannot say the same, I don’t remember any of you, so I had no one to miss”.
“I understand, mother and father and Griehn miss you too. Griehn is our older brother, one thousand years your senior. But you cannot return to us, because of the exile”.
“Do you know why I was exiled?” Elian asked, eager to discover the reason.
She shook her head.
“I’m sorry, no. No one but you and the council knew, exiles are private matters. All we were told was that you had been banished”.
“It’s ok”, Elian said, trying to hide his disappointment.
“I really am sorry Elian. Do you want to know more?”
“Not today, I think that is enough for one day. Can we talk again soon?”
“Absolutely! Where are you staying?”
“I am not really staying anywhere at the moment. Myself and a few others have formed a group, we are protecting a girl who is being targeted by the Koles and their mercenaries. Only, she was captured by them recently, so we are here in the city to try and rescue her”.
“Really? What made you join them?”
“Up to the point I saw them, I had merely spent life travelling the woods with Mera, going nowhere fast. I felt my life needed a change of direction. So I aided them when they were in trouble, and I felt compelled to join them”.
“Interesting, I have always looked for something more interesting to do in life, being unable to join the forces at home. I shall join you, temporarily at first, and if it really sparks my interest, maybe until your little quest is finished and done with”.
“Don’t try to talk me out of this like you always did when we were young, I am just as capable as you now. I am going to help you”.
“I-ok. If the others will accept you. If not, I shall leave the group and travel with you until you have to return home”.
“That sounds good”.