Armes caught up with me as we rode. "Naria, where did you go before you arrived at the edge of the village?"

"Just for a ride." Armes looked unhappy.

"Did anything happen?"

I held my head up high, refusing to show weakness by crying. "No. I thought we were going to kiss, but we didn't. He believes Jadir to be a much better choice for me."

Armes touched my hand fondly. "Do you wish to be left alone?"

"Yes Armes, for the moment. I thank you. But I will not be so quick to talk to Ramin again. He has hurt my pride, and as you know, my pride is strong." She smiled at me, knowing my pride had caused many problems.

"So you will just ignore him."

"No. I shall just treat him as I treat anyone else, and hope this makes him realise his loss." I spurred my horse on to the front and let her lead the group. She had visited the elven elder many a time, and would know the route better than some.

Aileah rode next to me.



"What do you think of the new girl, Mariena?"

"I believe that if her magic is controlled and strong then we may have gained a powerful ally. If not, we may have a burden and perhaps a threat."

"I believe the same. We must speak to her, and discover how well she performs magic."

"A good idea Mariena. Ah to have brains such as yours."

"You are clever Naria."

"Not as clever as you my dear. But then I have spent many years trying to run away from everything my father tried to impress on me. I wish now that I had studied more."

"There is plenty of time."

"Yes. The immortal life. A burden, and yet also a treasure."

"Do not dwell on such thoughts. Look, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and you are young for an elf."

"What an optimist you are. very well, I shall treasure life, for it brings happiness as well as grief, and we must take the good with the bad. For if there was no bad, how could we appreciate the good?" I let my laughter fill the forest, and then, at seeing the trees around me, decided to sing to them. They looked neglected.

"Et Eärello Endorenna utúlien. Sinome maruvan ar Hildinyar tenn' Ambar-metta..." The other elves joined in, and soon the trees began to flower and sway with the song.

The End

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