Chapter 14 - Part 2

Those who remained continued to make their way through the streets, enjoying their brief, although corrupted, moments of normality, tainted only by the weapons in their hands and the knowledge of the conflict that might be ahead. It was, beneath this cloud of uncertainty, that silence continued; their wordlessness was not a situation that brought about embarrassment.

Rather, it was a time in which the Blades of Twilight, those passionate elves and their loyal companion, could taste, for a moment, the calming monotony of routine and feel temporarily the joy of being alive.

Aranaytha looked to the stores and stalls selling beautiful array, long silken gowns and other shimmering, fine garment. For a moment she remembered her former life, wearing dresses of a similar nature as he mother instructed her in how to act, speak, and even breathe, when being courted, as practice for when she turned sixteen and the process would begin.

She remembered how she had hated it all, the fakery of her smile, the unintelligent doe-eyed girls who made it their one wish to find a man with a handsome smile, strong shoulders and towers of gold. She had grimaced watching them, looking instead to the men as they trained to fight, jealousy sitting upon her shoulders. She became angry with the process very quickly, telling her mother, her father and the siblings that were present that she no longer wanted the life that waited for her, waited to engulf her in rich fabrics and apathy.

She had told them of how she wanted to learn to fight, to wield a sword and use a shield, to dress in modest armour and to do battle with the enemy alongside her comrades, of either sex, as a strong unit and bastion of honour. At first, her mother, who had smiled with proud as her young daughter had begun to grow into a beautiful elven woman, her feisty, fiery nature now beginning to show in her face, her eyes, the gentle line of her jaw, a streak of independence, had been heartbroken at the idea of her deserting the life she was duty bound to follow.

“Duty bound?” Aranaytha had replied, “It is my duty to defend my country and the people who dwell there, not to sit, adorned in jewelry, saying nothing.” It was these words that rekindled an old fire within her father’s heart, and he had nodded, telling her to go and train, if that was what she was being called to do. Although it pained her, her mother agreed, nodding as a few tears coursed their way down her powdered face.

Aranaytha told the tale a different way of course - she wanted to appear rebellious, dangerous to the enemy and even to lewd men. With her sword in hand, she felt that she had the authority to speak without being spoken to, to have an opinion, and to be taken seriously. With these thoughts and memories filling her mind, it was a while before she noticed that Yvellen was calling her, Luan rubbing his nuzzle against her legs, purring, before looking up to her with gentle eyes, that seemed to ask her to follow him. She was glad to be part of the group she had found, happy that she fought alongside both men and women, happy that the former respected her for her ability over her appearance and that she had the privilege of laughter. Thinking thus, and nodding slowly, a smile on her face and tears in her eyes, she followed Luan.

The End

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