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“Seledra. You are Tel'Quessir, and you are my A’Sum. Nothing else matters.” It was winter, 1262. I had begun to notice that I was different from the other elven children. My mother sat at her writing desk poring over menus by wandlight, trying to decide what meal she would try to pass off as her own cooking this night.

“But O’Si, the others call me a mongrel. When we play Sun versus Moon, both sides push me away, say I’m not one of them.”

My mother’s violet eyes flickered cold for a moment before she returned to her menus. “Seledra, you are better than those common chaff moon elves and those snot-nosed sun elves...”

“But O’Si...isn’t O’Su a moon elf?”

Mother’s mouth spread into a chilly smile. I shuddered. “Why yes. He is. And perhaps it is something that your father should remember more often about his people. If a hundred, a thousand of them were to die, it would be of little concern to anyone but themselves. Like vermin they are. Common. And unremarkable.”

My face fell. No matter how much I hoped for the contrary, I knew I was my father’s daughter and not the product of my mother’s forbidden passions with someone who had warm blood in their veins. What must she think of me then? “But O’Si, doesn’t that make me...”

“No! Your father may be common, but you are MINE. MINE, MINE, MINE!!!” With a great flourish of my mother’s arm, the menus flew to the floor. Mother was standing now, breathing heavily, teeth gritted and tugging her hair for a few moments until finally, after seemingly having regained her composure, she began to use Prestidigitation to move the scattered menus back onto her desk. My mother was not, after all, one for manual labor if she could possibly help it.

I thought the danger had passed. “So...if O’Su is common and unremarkable, and I, as your daughter, am not, then what are you?”

“I don’t wish to talk about it, Seledra. It doesn’t matter anyway.” She sounded resigned, perhaps a little sad or wistful. But if I had listened just a little closer...

My curiosity got the better of me. “What are we, O’Si? I want to know!” But I was young. I didn’t know any better. The look on my mother’s face made me run towards the stairs that led to my bedroom. But I was unable to outrun my mother’s rage, or her Ray of Frost spell.


~


“Aren’t you going to visit your Mother today?” Ralenthra was gazing at the calendar I had hanging up on my kitchen wall. I was sitting at the dining room table examining the various takeaway menus in my possession, stopping every once in a while to scour my Druid handbook for information about curses and how they can be reversed for Aelthas. “It’s her birthday,” she continued. “Isn’t that what you...er...people who know where their mothers are do?”

“I sent her a gift.” I said nonchalantly.

I didn’t have to look up to know that Ralenthra raised an eyebrow at me.

“It’s a nice gift.” I countered to her silence. “I can’t visit her. I’m busy. I’m sure she understands.”

Ralenthra hoisted herself up on to the counter, plucked an apple from the fruit bowl beside her and took a generous bite. “You have the day off.”

I slowly looked up from my papers. “I’m planning our meals for the week, trying to find a way to reverse Mother’s curse on Aelthas, and I have to practice the dance for your upcoming ritual. Also? I just don’t...want to deal with her madness today.”

Ralenthra crunched her apple thoughtfully. “Understood,” she said, after swallowing. But something caught her eye. “Is that...is that Drizzt Do’Urden’s memoirs I see hidden under the Seven Little Fortunes menu?”

I grimaced in embarrassment but confessed, all the same. “It’s the first volume, yes.”

“And?”

“He’s a bit of an odd sort. He talks about events he could not have possibly witnessed and of course, everyone else being evil but him makes any information that came from anyone else instantly unreliable. He’s narcissistic, vain, whiny, self-absorbed-”

“Wait, shouldn’t you like him then?” Ralenthra grinned.

I rolled my eyes and continued.“Shut up. He’s a got a creepy idea that his sisters all want to sleep with him...”

Ralenthra took another bite of her apple. “Typical.”

I made a face. “Really?”

“Really.”

“Ew. Anyway, I want to like him. Because he’s good and all, you know, fighting the good fight. But...he makes it rather difficult. In fact, he’s kind of insufferable.”

“And yet?”

I cover my face in my hands. “And yet I can’t put it down for long.”

Ralenthra finished her apple. She hopped down off the counter, opened the window that was over our sink and tossed it outside that window into the compost bin below. “Let’s see it then.”

~


I excitedly rolled out the large parchment detailing my grand plans for breaking into the Hall of Records. Aelthas and Duglan, my constant companions, took a gander.

“You’re going to do WHAT to WHO?” Aelthas stared at me, eyes wide.

My beau had obviously gotten to the part where I seduce a priest of Deneir (or as many as I have to) in order to get access to the ‘Forbidden’ Spellbook section at the Vault of the Sages. Why have the books around at all if they’re not going to be read? “Oh, that. Don’t worry about me. I’m still a virgin, after all.”

“You are??!” both the boys exclaimed.

I thought of Thralia, and blushed. “Well, technically, yes.” I answered, and then I clarified, “Anyway, I’m not using anything south of my waist for this job. I don’t have to.”

“You sound pretty confident.” intoned Duglan with a wink and a smile. “Want to give us a demonstration?”

“Shut up, Duglan.” Aelthas said with a scowl. He turned to me, and brushed a stray lock of hair behind my ear. “Seledra, why? Why are you doing this?”

“I need to sow the seeds of chaos. After you cast the spells to bend the wards around the university and open up all those portals, most of the mages will be too busy trying to shut them down to detect what’s going on at Everdusk Hall.” It made perfect sense to me at the time...

Aelthas held me, not ungently, but with some urgency, about my shoulders. “But that’s the thing with chaos. It’s unpredictable. You could get burned. And then all of us will suffer. Is it worth it?”

I sighed. “Aelthas, what are you?”

He raised an eyebrow, as if he wasn’t sure where I was going with this. But he humored me. “I’m a human. But my mother is a half-elf.”

“What kind of elf?”

He shook his head in irritation. “Why does it matter?”

I answered calmly. “Answer the question. Surely you must know.”

Aelthas sighed and rolled his eyes even as he concentrated. “My mother was raised by her human mother. My elven grandfather died young. Some sort of accident. He was...a moon elf. From Evereska.”

“See? You know what you are. And I bet you could tell me where your human ancestors hail from as well.”

“Seledra, I don’t see-”

“I DON’T KNOW WHAT I AM, Aelthas! Don’t you know how unsettling that is? And don’t you think that if I had any other options at my disposal, that I’d use them? Whatever my mother is hiding from me, she’s hiding it very, very well. And father is no help at all.”

Aelthas gulped and stared at me a while. Duglan had already retired to a nearby chaise and draped a book over his face to escape the awkwardness. My beau sighed and kissed me on the forehead. “Very well, sweet heart. It’s your choice. Just...don’t get caught, all right?”

“Don’t worry. If I get caught, I won’t say who helped me. I love you, Aelthas. And I will never betray you.”


~


Late into the night, I could still hear Ralenthra howling with laughter as she read Drizzt Do’Urden’s memoirs. I peered over my covers at the next two books from the drow’s autobiographical series as they sat, waiting for my perusal, on my nightstand. There was to be even more to follow, I had heard. I scowled.

I turned my back on the tomes to stretch. Ralenthra had really put me through a workout today. After the dance practice, she still had energy to burn, and decided that she also wanted to draft me into becoming her sparring practice partner. I must have broken three wooden swords today because I wasn’t fast enough to hit her. I comforted myself with the fact that when I do hit, I hit hard. And no, I don’t mean her.

Wielding the sword today made me think more on my goals of embarking on an adventuring side-career. My hands would tingle with anticipation every time I went to the mailbox, as I hoped that each day will be the day a summons comes from Captain Tagen, or whoever Tagen is working for, telling us to pack our bags and head out somewhere kind of dangerous.

It didn’t come today, but hopefully something will come soon. I just know that something good is going to happen...

~


I dreamed...

I saw a short, red-haired human girl fitted into finery worthy of a lady-in-waiting; watching the Glittersmokes buzz about the girl was Thralia, who looked like she was giving detailed instructions, either to the gnomish seamstresses or to the human girl...

I saw Ralenthra, poring over what looked to be this very diary. Looking over her shoulder was Tordrin, who was pointing out something of note to my friend. Ralenthra’s eyes widened...

I saw a drow male reclining on my mother’s bed. He seemed to be arguing with a striking-looking female sun elf who was attempting to use my mother’s scrying mirror. A soft grey cat hopped on the bed beside the drow and swatted him in the face. The sun elf laughed. The drow fell off the bed unsuccessfully trying to swat back at the cat. The sun elf laughed even harder...

I saw Kronk, flanked by Selune and a half-elf Heartwarder as he carried a human girl child on his shoulders. The snow was falling softly. Cardinals and Blue Jays circled about the girl as she laughed. Kronk and the Heartwarder seemed to be looking for something, and they finally stopped at Joon’s Curry Stand in the Market District. Everyone ate heartily.

I saw Silverymoon Palace. A bolt of lightning struck nearby.

I saw Magnos and Jonah, with Scamp wrapped around his master’s shoulders like an old woman’s fur collar, outside the Map House. They were discussing something rather animatedly, with Jonah’s expression going from dubious to more dubious to annoyed to resigned...


~


I awoke with a start. I couldn’t shake the feeling that the vignettes I bore witness to were connected somehow. And I wondered why I wasn’t there.
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Still feeling guilty about the previous night's transgressions, I headed straight for Mielikki's Glade at the crack of dawn. As a City Druid, one of my responsibilities is to assist Lady Tathshandra with the morning and evening services. Not that there aren't other druids to assist, but Tathshandra has been a friend since I was a child (may Mielikki continue to give her long life) and her friendship enhances the worship experience.

After the service, Shandy noticed I was troubled and though I did not go into detail about last night's events, she suggested that I perform my monthly Song of Trees early, which would involve a trip to the High Forest. I told her that I would take her counsel into consideration. After going home, I soon knew what I must do.

I had received mail from my cousin Pandora. I trained with her and her mother a few years before she left to help with the Neverwinter effort and became a big hero. Turns out, she's getting married to Neverwinter's Spymaster, Aarin Gend. A human.

My parents are going to be so scandalized.

The wedding was taking place next week, on the 23rd of Flamerule. According to reports, Pandora had just returned in triumph to Neverwinter, why was she rushing into a wedding...unless? No!

But oddly enough, despite Neverwinter still existing because of my cousin's heroics, the wedding would not be in Neverwinter (there goes that travel arrangement) but in her home village of Amalith, under the famed Grandfather Tree. Curiouser and curiouser.

I went to visit my mother.

"That fool Ariel and her fool child Pandora are going to embarrass us all," she said, drinking deeply from her goblet of elven wine. Clearly Father was out, as he never lets her drink during the daytime when he's present.

"Are you going to the wedding, mother?"

"Of course not, I wouldn't be caught dead treading through the muck to witness such an event - which is why you are going in my place, dear."

I wasn't quite ready for that.

"Someone has to do the dirty work and it might as well be you since you love dirt so much. I have something for you - "

She tossed a beautiful, shining green gown at me.

" - wove it all through the night, hope it fits."

I opened my mouth to thank her but -

"Don't thank me, child, now get to packing. I'm sending you to that backwoods affair in style. You will take my coach and bring a guest and that fleabag of a dog - "

"Selune is a wolf, moth-"

"Whatever. The trip should take two days, so you will leave three days in advance. Is that clear?"

"Yes."

"Good."

"Mother, may I borrow - "

"Yes, yes, of course." She waved me away with a flick of the wrist.

Glad to be free of that conversation, I went upstairs to my mother's room and sat at her vanity. Touching the mirror, I chanted the incantation that would open a connection to the scrying mirror that belonged to Archdruid Ariel Lorien, Pandora's mother and my teacher. I could only hope she was in.

After a few minutes, the obsidian-like darkness of the mirror cleared and it was like Ariel was sitting right in front of me.

"Seledra, dearest, how are you?" She placed her hand where my face would be.

"I just got the invitation and mother is at the bottle again."

She sighed.

"If Evindra would just get out once in a while, she would probably be a much happier person. Are you coming, dear?"

"Oh yes, I wouldn't miss it. Besides, I was thinking about performing mySong of Trees a little early this year and what better place than where I did it the first time."

"That sounds like a wonderful idea. Would you mind performing the ceremony for the wedding?"

"I would be honored."

"Pandora can't wait to see you. She has a lot to talk to you about. Riol is growing fast, both in body and in the love of the forest. The twins are at an adventuring school in Hilltop, but they should be able to make it. I just wish..."

"I know." I saw Unebrion only briefly on a few occasions as a child, but his banishment was painful to all of us, as he was a striking young elf with a magnetic personality.

"It is good that you will come. Do you have someone special in mind to bring to the wedding, dear?"

I wondered if she could see the beads of sweat that appeared on my brow.

"I...uh, have a friend I may ask."

"A special friend?"

"Special in that she is a Drow."

"Wonderful, then this sort of thing will be a new experience for her!"

"I suppose it will. Listen, I must get to going. There are arrangements that have to be made."

"Of course, dear."

"Tell Pan that I can't wait to hear all of her news."

"I'll do that. Fare thee well dear."

"Fare thee well."

I slipped downstairs and past my mother (who had passed out again), grabbed a bottle of elven wine for myself and headed home. I just hope Ralenthra is free for a few days.

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March 2016

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