"The Sea-hags are attacking the harbour!"
The call we were expecting had arrived, and the battle-hardened
warriors, mages, incantors and healers rushed to defend
Gavelle once more. At their head was the Lord of Gavelle;
Ailwen, and his lovely bride of scant hours, Foreign Minister
Rowan, Lady of Gavelle. At their tail, wearily assembling
my belongings, having just returned from Rockholme, was
myself. I am Evandar, Elven healer, trader, journeyman
vintner, and proud father to Rowan´s apprentice,
Elmeira the Fair. This is what I saw and thought and felt
on that day.
I got to my feet, going slow to arrive when
needed, and noticed the Tankard of the Sea-King, abandoned
in the rush. "Ah" thinks I, "probably going
to need that if we´re fighting by the sea."
So I scoop it up and place it discreetly under my cloak,
following after the defenders.
On the way I meet Princess Akasha, recovering
from the ordeal of giving birth to the twins, Malachi
and Josephine. I inform her of the attack and she, in
turn, tells me that the Tankard is empty of magic. So,
when I arrive at the battle, after checking for my daughter´s
safety, I seek out Queen Adelena and ask her for advice.
"The Tankard! Yes, that's what they´re
after, you know," says she.
"Probably don´t want it around
here then," says I.
"Go hide it, Evandar," says she.
Just then a call comes. It is Elmeira calling
my name. I see Rowan down and guarded by Barratt. I hesitate.
My daughter needs me. The Queen has ordered me. I turn
away. There are other healers.
Looking for a hiding place, I spy a Sea-hag
in the ritual circle. Hastily I move out of sight and
bury the tankard, then return to warn the Queen. Too late.
The circle is sealed and full of enemies. Worse news is
revealed. Ailwen teleported from the battle with Mog.
Was he inside? A scream of "No!" from Rowan
confirms our fears. His limp body is seen. The Sea-hags
beat and crush it into a bloody mess. He bleeds from every
limb. Mog fares better but can do nothing. The trade becomes
clear. The Tankard for two lives.
I retrieve the Tankard, and while others
trade, prepare to heal Ailwen, who´s life is preserved
by a Sea-hag chanting sanctuary. I spy a glow from the
ground beneath him. A ritual circle tastes the blood of
The trade is made, and I rush to heal Ailwen
as the seal comes down. His body is mangled and distorted.
Dragging him backwards from the circle, the sea-hag breaks
the sanctuary and retreats with his fellows. I feel the
life leave Ailwen. In desperation I pour all of my energies
into him, drawing more from the Yew trees nearby that
connect me to the Plane of Life. Rowan rushes to my side,
to the husband she has no more time to know. An Elven
love-bond is a dangerous thing. Two lives were at risk
here as I knew only too well. But one was beyond saving.
"Ailwen!" Rowan calls, reaching
to embrace him.
"I´m sorry," I whisper,
"there was nothing I could do."
"No! He can´t be! He lives! Save
him Evandar, you can save him!"
I break. Rowan wails and drags her husband
into her arms. In tears I say "There is nothing.
He is dead. Ailwen is dead." I stand and stumble
away into the forest.
I have never trusted Yews. They defy the
seasons with false life. They kill plant and animal alike
to live alone and unmolested. Once out of the Yew grove
that forms the ritual circle of Gavelle, my thoughts rage
less fiercely at my failure. I touch an Oak.
"Heart and breath, you knew the way,"
I hear. The Oak speaks to me? No. The voice was old. Older
than the Oak and generations of Oaks before it. As old
The Heart of the Forest? It cannot be! No
Heart has spoken in the lifetime of any Elf I know. But
this is the Forest of Gavelle, and the blood of the Lord
of Gavelle feeds the Yews of the grove, and seeps into
the magic of the circle.
"Heart and breath!" I shout. "Curse
me for a senile old Elf! How could I have forgotten?"
I rush back to Ailwen, dragging him flat
to the ground from Rowan´s startled grasp. The heart
must beat and the mouth must breathe. I start to pump
Ailwen's chest, forcing the heart to beat.
"Rowan, you must breathe for him."
"There is hope?"
"Do it! Breathe into him, count to
three, then do it again."
I check for his beat. Nothing. I check for
his breath. Nothing. On we go, I the heart, Rowan the
breath. How long? I check for signs again. Nothing. No
thought of giving up. I call for physicians. He still
loses precious blood from his legs, squeezed by my beating
of his heart. An Incantor pours ancestral light and life
I check. Nothing.
On we work. Doubts beseige me. Did I remember
it correctly? Am I going too fast? Too slow? Pains shoot
up my arms from the effort of being another Elf's heart.
I am a fat, old Elf, mind wasted away by the despair I
fear Rowan must suffer. I cannot keep going much longer!
Rowan breathes her love into Ailwen. I feel
the bond for a moment, a physical thing, the purest magic,
seemingly matched by a surge of power from the circle.
Then. Ailwen Lives!
I cannot say what brought Ailwen back from
beyond this plane. Of one thing alone am I certain, as
we carry his deeply sleeping body slowly back to my farm
in Lyonesse. The Lord of Gavelle is loved by both the
land he rules and the Lady who has not let go of his hand
As written By Evandar
of the Kith Rhae