Chapter 8: Further Tales by the Fire
It was as much an impossibility as were Brandyé’s inexplicable journeys to lands far away (or dreams, as Ermèn called them), yet Brandyé could not deny the senses that told him the friend whom he had not seen in almost five years now stood before him.
The light was fading swiftly, and Brandyé could see few of Elven’s features, but he saw well enough the short and grizzled beard, the hair so much longer than he had last seen it, and above all the life in the eyes that was ever in his memory. Elven was shawled in a thick cloak, black as his own though made of cloth and not hide, and Brandyé was astonished to see a short blade at his side, for he had never known Elven to bear a weapon.
And of course, to the side and pecking at the ground was Elven’s falcon, and at the sight of her a swell of memories rushed upon his mind, and unbidden a tear came to his eye. Brandyé reached out a hand to touch Elven, and laid his fingers upon his face. “How can it be you?”
For his part, Elven seemed unable to speak at all, for he would only shake his head, his mouth open. For many moments they gazed wordlessly upon each other, until finally the falcon broke the silence with a impatient cry.
“Hush, Sonora,” Elven spoke finally, and it seemed the spell of silence was gone, for in a moment Elven had grasped Brandyé in a great embrace. “My dearest Brandyé! I cannot even begin to say how you have been missed! Oh – in all of Erâth, how is it we should both happen upon this spot at this same moment?”
“I have become a wanderer,” Brandyé said, for it felt true enough, though he had be with Ermèn for some weeks now. “I am here in these woods for lack of anywhere else to be. But what of you?”
“There is so much I wish to tell you,” Elven said. “I live here now, with both mother and father as well as Maria and Julia. We left Consolation nearly a year ago now, seeking a sheltered life from the rule of the Fortunaé.”
“What has happened?”
“The Lord Garâth is dead – Danâr now rules in his place, and his rule is cruel.” Elven looked once more about him, as though only just now realizing the closing dark that was upon them. “Come,” he said, “follow me. I will bring you to our home; it is not far.”
For a moment Brandyé hesitated, for he was reluctant to leave Ermèn to wonder where he was, but he realized that there was little other choice; he would not arrive at Ermèn’s before full night, and he did not wish to be among the trees unprotected. He rose to his feet as did Elven, and together they set out through the trees, Elven leading the way.
It was not long before Brandyé began to see a glow among the trees ahead, and they were soon upon on a small building of logs: a veritable home in the woods, though it was of rough construction and boasted no decorations of any kind. “This is our home,” Elven said as they approached. “It was built by father and I throughout the weeks of the summer, and has proved excellent shelter since then.” He paused at the door, which was made of several uneven boards fastened to each other by yet more boards, and hinged to the wall by, of all things, thick rope. “I do not know how mother and father will take you,” he said quietly. “We have not spoken of…of my sister since you left.”
Brandyé nodded. “I will understand anything they have to say.”
Elven pushed upon the door and it swung upon, and they stepped in, and Brandyé was presented with an astonishing, welcoming, and at the same time bittersweet sight. In many ways, the inside of Elven’s home was not dissimilar to Ermèn’s; he faced one large room, though it was considerably larger than Ermèn’s. There appeared to be in the walls no windows, though Brandyé later learned that they had smaller doors cut into the wall that could be swung open during the day. Nonetheless the scene was well lit, for many candles stood on tables and counters, were held by candelabra on the walls, and even hung from the ceiling in a crude chandelier.