3.30 Arbola

Location: Arbola Forest
Timeline: Sixth Age, 46th Year, End of Autumn

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, young man. We’ve heard so much about you. Let’s hope you are as fun-loving as your grandsire.”

“Ah, Thank you?” Stammered Emcorae,

“Helena.” Assisted El-Janus. “She is an advisor to the Arbola Council, and…”

With a young elfess called Nathily at his side, Emcorae Azop was being led around the Great Green Hall by El-Janus during the boy’s reception party on the second day of his arrival at Arbola Forest (1).

After completing the remainder of the journey here without incident, the boy had spent the rest of yester’s day sleeping at the Youth Hall. But now, tonight, he was dressed in the finest clothes he mother had packed him – a pair of grey breeches with a royal blue tunic his mother crafted him, a black tassel belt braised by Pallina, and leather short-boots gifted to him by his father. Attached to his belt on the left he had his grandfather Alfranco’s black dagger – it was something that he had nigh forgotten about (2).

Although Emcorae wore the weapon with pride, he was disappointed that nobody seemed to notice the blade – not a single person remarked on the dagger, and worse yet, the few who did notice seemed to smile patronizingly at the sight of the seemingly useless stone blade. Thus it was that, despite the gaiety of the event and the sincere attempts of the Amorosi to make Emcorae feel welcome, never had the young man felt more out of place.

A group of elves softly played stringed instruments off to the side, and Emcorae tried to keep a smile while El-Janus introduced him to a whirlwind of people, however the only thoughts that kept running through the boy’s mind were…

When can I go back to my home?

Who are all these people that are so different from me?

What am I doing even here? I’ll never be an elf warrior. Heck, I don’t even want to be a human soldier!!!

Needless to say, Emcorae did not enjoy himself, he didn’t remember anybody’s name, and he felt like just running away. In truth, the only thing that kept him around was the fact that he was hungry and, while the cooking may not be as good as Pallina’s, the food on the buffet did smell appetizing.

C’mon, people, let’s eat!!

“My people, let us give our guest a respite.” A tall, thin elf named Rian called out from the front of the Hall. The soft music of a lyre that had been playing in the background stopped, and the middle-aged looking elf smiled. “Come, let us break bread together.”

“Aaluud!” The group replied, taking their seats at the tables lined up in the center of the great room, as servers brought out even more platters, all heaped with aromatic delights.

“Emcorae Azop, what are your thoughts? You have said little during the meal. Are you feeling well?”

“Sorry, what?” the boy replied to Nathily. The elfess was sitting to his left and El-Janus was on his right, as the trio sat at the main table with other seemingly important people – Emcorae noted the tall elf who was the apparent leader, a short, talkative elfess with to his right, and a few others that he remembered being introduced to but whose name now escaped him.

What Nathily observed about him was true – during the dinner, Emcorae had kept his head down and hadn’t spoken to anyone. From the boy’s point of view, he still didn’t know the people here and in truth he didn’t care to know them right now. His only concern was eating. Although the food looked and smelled different than what he was used to, Emcorae was so hungry that he was eager to try it – in fact, the food had turned out to be delightful, and he had already helped himself to seconds — and thirds!—by the time Nathily questioned him (3).

Given Emcorae’s age (4), it would have been natural for him to have been physically attracted to his female companion this evening, yet young Azop was a late bloomer and hadn’t yet noticed the charms of the opposite sex. Instead the boy plopped another warm fruit tart into his mouth, and now feeling more like himself, he smiled slyly at Nathily and shrugged his shoulders – indicating that he was, at present, unable to talk because his mouth was full.

“Oh, no, my friend.” Said Nathily staunchly. “You’re not going to get out of it that easy. I’ll just wait for you to finish.”

Swallowing hard, Emcorae, half-laughed, half-whined, “What do you want from me, Nat?”

“First, my name is NATHILY, not ‘Nat,’ as you keep saying. Additionally, it’s now your second day in The Forest and you’ve hardly said two words to anybody. Although you may not know it, my people have put great effort into making you feel welcome. And, lastly, if El-Janus didn’t tell you yet, I, NATHILY, am going to be your partner as we attempt to walk along the Way of the Azora. So, that means—hey, what’s wrong with you?”

At the mention of “Azoras” Emcorae had frowned, and as his nerves got the better of him, he tried turned away.

Nathily tried again, “Emcorae Azop, have I offended you? If so, I apologize.”

“It’s allright.” Replied the boy. Then, leaning close to Nathily so nobody else would hear, he whispered, “It’s just that I’m not so sure about this whole elf warrior business. I mean, look at me – I’m naught but a scrawny boy!”

Try as she might, Nathily was unable to contain a snicker in response to the very true statement her companion had just uttered.

“See!” Emcorae blurted, shocked that his conversation mate was actually laughing at him. “Even my new ‘training partner’ doesn’t believe in me!”

Nathily softened. “Emcorae Azop, do not worry so much about that which you cannot control.” Then it was the elfess’ turn to lean in close and whisper. “Even I have my doubts. Do you not know about the unusual part I am to take in this strange play?” Seeing his ignorance in the matter, the elfess continued. “I, Nathily, am to be the first amora to become an Azora.”

“But my grandfather said he’d seen female elves fighting before.” Emcorae objected. “And he said they were pretty awesome.”

“Those were likely amoras in the Protectorate – our regular forces.” Nathily explained. “Amoras often join our males in serving for a few decades to guard The Forest. But no amora has ever tried to become an Azora.”


“Because no amora has ever wanted to devote their entire life to war.” And seeing the confusion on Emcorae’s face, Nathily continued. “Don’t you understand? Once we start upon The Way, our lives will be forever changed. The Way will become our Lives. There will be nothing else. No amora has ever attempted such a feat. Just like no human has. Like you, I have self-doubt. And yet what can we do? Our destiny is set, we must accept it.”

“What destiny? What lifetime?” Emcorae was now completely lost. “I’m only gonna be here a couple years, then I’m going back home. I don’t want to devote my entire life to this! There’s a lot more do than fighting all the time. I don’t think you understand why I am here…but then again…neither do I!”

Emcorae giggled at his words and, despite her own confusion, Nathily couldn’t help but join him – laughing at the absurdity of their situation.

The ice broken, the would-be warriors relaxed into further conversation about less important topics and finally began to enjoy themselves – something El-Janus was pleased to surreptitiously observe about his pupils.

All the while the bards continued strumming their lyres – their sing-song melodies soothing away the cares of everyone present.

After a time the elf named Rian stood up again, “My friends, thank you for sharing a meal with us. And now, we dance.”

At that the bards struck up a more lively tune and Amorosi of both sexes ran to the area in front of where they were playing, laughing while they readied themselves for a communal dance. Others moved in pairs and small groups to the more quiet corners of the Hall. Some left the party, having other business matters to see to. And, of course, those who were assigned to kitchen and serving duty, saw to the clean-up.

Not knowing what to do, Emcorae arose when Nathily did, shoved another tasty morsel into his mouth, and then begrudgedly followed her and El-Janus around as they mingled with various people in the big room. Nothing about any of the conversations was memorable to the boy and he often found himself paying more attention to the wide array of animals present in the Hall than the overly garrulous people. From the flittering birds, to the raccoons and foxes, to the obviously friendly brown bear, the boy smiled at seeing this happy union of Nature and people. Oh, sure, he did his part to nod and smile whenever he was interacting with somebody, but it was evident to his conversation partners that he was growing tired by the minute. When his master bade him to sit down on one of the divans along the wall, Emcorae happily obliged – flopping down with a contented sign.

“El-Janus, dear,” said an elfess named Fara, the life partner of Rian. “Methinks you might want to get this young boy to bed. Poor thing must still be exhausted.”

“This trial is hardly a warrior’s test, good amora,” replied the mysstro. “I was instructed to assist Emcorae Azop in meeting our people and such am I doing. We are welcoming him into our society this night, thus he must meet all the elders.”

“That is correct, dear.” Rian advised. “Alas, it’s a shame that Dallegheri has been sick and thus was unable to attend, but has the boy at least met Teresius yet, El-Janus?”

“No, sire. Besides Dallegheri, Teresius is the last remaining elder who has yet to encounter my pupil.”

Laying on his side on the comfortable divan in the shadows of the candlelight to his back, Emcorae could hear the conversation about him. He could see Nathily standing between the lady elf with the blond hair, Fara, and the tall elf in the brown robes, Rian. Next to them, with their backs to Emcorae, was El-Janus, and the older elfess, Helena.

The boy watched through sleepy eyelids as another Amorosi then shuffled his way. The newcomer had the hood of his robe up so Emcorae couldn’t see his face, however it was clear that this elf was a little different from the rest – he walked slowly, was slightly hunched over, used a gnarled wooden cane to support himself, and his arms appeared to be thin and bony, all of which was a far cry from the other Amorosi who seemed to be vibrant and alive.

Intrigued, Emcorae propped himself up on the couch and studied this new entrant to the group. Dressed in a white robe, unsashed, the Amorosi elder wore simple leather sandals, his feet almost never losing contact with the ground as he meandered towards the group. The boy also noticed how the elder’s right hand continually moved the cane on the floor – always clicking it out in front of him, as if to clear a space.

How rude! Thought the boy. I know he’s old, but does he need that much space to walk?

Emcorae immediately regretted his assessment, because the more the he watched, the more he realized that the elderly elf even seemed to have trouble even raising his head.

Perhaps the ability to live 100’s of years is not such a great gift after all, if this is what it does to y

Of a sudden, he saw Fara waving to him, “Emcorae Azop, come here, dear. Don’t worry, after you meet Teresius, we’ll make certain you get to bed, love.”

Although he didn’t want to leave the comfortable divan, Emcorae acquiesced and walked the few steps to the circle of elves — waiting to be introduced to yet another person whose name he would undoubtedly not remember.

It was El-Janus who spoke, “Emcorae Azop, may I present the most-wise prophet Teresius.”

The elderly Amorosi with the cane turned to meet Emcorae, and as he did so, the boy tried hard to hide his surprise – quite unsuccessfully – for as Teresius raised up his head, Emcorae was shocked to behold his the elf’s face. Teresius’ visage was lined with worry, his mouth was seemingly locked in a frown, and his eyebrows were raised as if in fright or surprise. Yet what caught the boy most off guard was the fact that Teresius’ eyes were missing – the empty sockets appearing to be nothing less than black holes into his skull!

“You’re blind!” Emcorae couldn’t help but blurt out.

Before the others could make up for the boy’s social gaffe, the old Amorosi reached forward with his left hand towards Emcorae’s face. Not understanding that the blind man was trying to feel his facial features, the boy mistook it as an attempted handshake and thus reached up with his own left hand and grasped Teresius’s, trying to smile despite his reservations and the chill that had just run up his spine at this strange encounter.

As Emcorae’s hand came into contact with Teresius’s, of a sudden, the elder stepped back in shock and his heavy cherrywood cane fell to the floor with a <CRACK!> Emcorae was confused and wanted to back away, but Teresius moved in a flash and slapped his gnarled right hand at the boy’s left side – drawing Alfranco’s dagger from Emcorae’s belt!

The boy was forced to the floor from the blind elf’s aggression, yet before anyone in the group could help him, Emcorae was even more horrified to witness what happened next!

To the amazement of all, Teresius stood tall, his hair flying out in shards as if from a lightning strike, as he held the black dagger on high, “YAAAAAWWWP!”

The music and dancing immediately stopped and everybody in the Hall now looked in the direction of the commotion. What they saw next was shocking – after screaming out, a now wild-haired Teresius pointed the dagger down at Emcorae, even as the boy on the floor held up his hands in a feeble effort to ward the coming blow. 

Thankfully the boy needn’t have worried – had Teresius attempted to strike, El-Janus had already moved into place to block the attack, the mysstro’s rappiletti en-guard to protect his pupil.

Yet Teresius’s attack on Emcorae never came – at least not physically. Instead, with black blade still pointed at the boy, as if in a trace, the elderly elf canted out in a power-filled voice…

 “Wield the Ghast, but guard the Grim.
The axe strikes fast, while the blade is dim.
Ghast will fade, whilst Grim will hide.
 Nektar’s fate rests with the pecora…
 in whom we confide!”

And with that, the prophet who was Teresius fell to the ground, dropping the dagger from his grasp as he hit the floor. Rian and Fara ran to help him, while others too came up to attend. Nathily rushed to assist Emcorae in getting back to his feet, and as soon as the boy was upright again, he tried to bolt out the door –- intent on running all the way back to Monthaven – yet he never made it even one step as a powerful grip on his arm held him in place. Looking back between the tears he could see El-Janus holding him firm in one hand, even as the elf warrior held the black dagger in the other!

“Hey! That’s mine.” Whined Emcorae, seeing Alfranco’s blade. “Give it back! My grandfather gave me that.”

Yet, El-Janus did not succumb to the boy’s reaching hands, nor did he let go of either Emcorae or the dagger, still holding them apart from one another. “We shall see, my pupil. It appears this night’s talk is not yet over, neh?”

“Quickly, my friends,” Said Rian to the small group, not wanting to upset the other Amorosi further. “El-Janus, Fara, Nathily, please, let’s go into the Pine Room to meet.” To another who had come up, “Adarius, please get the rest of the council. Even Dallegheri if he is at all capable. Bring them here at once.” Then to the rest of the gathering, “My people, the wise Teresius is fine. See.” And here he pointed to the elderly elf who was now resting peacefully on the divan Emcorae had used earlier, his face worry-free and calm. Rian continued, “Meanwhile, it appears Teresius has given us a new rede to decipher. The Council will adjourn to decode it, but I encourage the rest to return to the drink and dance. Avar, if you will be so kind?” 

The leader of the bards strummed his lyre and the band played on – to the delight of all.

Emcorae woke from a fitful sleep – he’d been dreaming about being back at his parent’s home in Monthaven (something he desperately wanted), yet when he opened his eyes, it was as if to a nightmare – for he realized he was still in Arbola Forest (a place he no longer wanted to be).

After the incident with the seer Teresius, Emcorae had been taken to a small meeting room in the rear of The Great Green Hall – exhausted from the events of the evening, the boy had quickly fallen asleep. Removing the blanket that covered him, Emcorae remained in the corner and observed – in the middle of the room he saw a small table at which were seated a group of serious looking elves who were discussing a matter that seemed of great importance to them.

Why I am even here? Emcorae wondered.

What the boy didn’t know is that the moon had since set hours past and the Hall itself had long since grown quiet for the party had been over for some time. The only people still here were the members of Arbola Council – the small group now gathered in the Pine Room with Emcorae.

When he realized that Nathily was also gone, he sighed, She’s probably in a nice warm bed, where I’d like to be!

At that, Emcorae laid back down in his corner nook and resolved to ignore the gabbing of the Amorosi leaders and go back to sleep himself, but as his hand brushed his belt, he realized the scabbard that held his grandfather’s dagger was empty!

Hopping up, he stormed the few paces towards the meeting table and pointing accusingly said, “You people have no right to take my knife! Where is it?” When he saw it laying in the center of the table he aimed to snatch it away and storm off – yet he was held back once more by El-Janus.

“Let me go!” the boy shouted.

“Emcorae Azop, you will learn when it is proper to speak and when it is proper to think. And which you should do first. For now, you will sit with me and listen.” And the small, yet surprisingly strong mysstro, held the boy on his lap, “Dallegheri, we apologize for interrupting, please continue.”

“Happily.” Said a new Amorosi that Emcorae hadn’t met before. Like the seer Teresius, Dallegheri was old, frail, and smaller than his colleagues. He had gray eyes that peered out from beneath bushy eyebrows and a long, hooked nose, yet more than anything his visage was dominated by wrinkles – deep lines that crisscrossed the ancient elf’s face in every direction.(5) After a cough to catch his breath, Dallegheri continued. “As to if the dirk before is indeed the <cough> pietromi’s mighty Grim, now long lost, <cough> alas,  I am sorry to say that the descriptions do not match. For, behold,” and here the Lore Master picked up the dagger, “you see, <cough> while the blade is indeed black. Hmmm…one might say,” he paused in study, “one could surmise, it is the blackest. Hmmm.”

The aged librarian became transfixed by the weapon. Those at the council table waited for Dallegheri to continue. Meanwhile, Emcorae struggled to keep his peace. It was Rian who finally prompted the ancient one with a gentle, “Master, dost thou have anything else to share?”

Emerging as if from a trance Dallegheri wheezed, “The stone blade here is quite dark, and this fact matches our records. Where is the scroll?” Placing the dirk on the table, the librarian picked up a scroll he’d retrieved from his archives before coming to the meeting. Muttering to himself, he trailined a bony finger down the long page as he searched, “Ah yes, ‘The Grim’s blade is made from the extreme utmost core of a carbon-diamond gemrock; it is all and entirely black…’ Hmmm, well, our blade is also black, neh?” Finding his place in the scroll, he read, “Let’s see, ‘…entirely black, seemingly an object that sucks the very surrounding light into itself.’ Hmm, I think we can agree that Emcorae’s grandfather’s dagger does not appear to absorb the light.” And he held the blade aloft once more. “Or does it?”

Debate broke out amongst the council as some suggested the dagger appeared to eat the light, while others dismissed the idea. Amorosi on all sides fidgeted in their seats, everyone unsure if they were beholding an magical weapon of power or if the entire discussion was pointless.

It was Dallegheri who broke the tension. “Alas, the scroll is quite old and many of the words in this section are missing, but list to what’s still legible… “if one looks…glowing…flame…letters “G-R-I-M”…its flat shanks.’ Alas, another missing section, then the following, ‘the dagger…beacon of hope…darkness…call forth…He Who Has No Name…darkest days.’”

With every word that the Lore Master spoke, Emcorae had felt the skin on the back of his neck tingle – although such words would have fit in well with one of the yarns Alfranco spun at The Brandonale, his grandfather had never suggested anything close to such descriptions when he’d talked to Emcorae about his dagger.

Meanwhile, another Amorosi whom Emcorae didn’t know reached out to pick up the blade – Adarius, the General of the Arbola Protectorate. Others at the table watched in hushed silence as the general closely examined both shanks, trying to see if there was any sort of writing on the stone. Finally he held it aloft in the full light, yet still nothing happened. Then, casually tossing the dagger back to the center of the table, he said, “It seems to me this blade just what it seems – an outdated war relic the boy’s ancestor gave him. Give it back to the child.”

“Not so fast,” cautioned El-Janus, still holding Emcorae in an iron vice. “Dallegheri, is there anything more?”

The elder librarian adjusted his spectacles and unrolled the scroll, “Yes. But it only confirms what we now all seem to agree. <cough> This cannot be The Grim. Here is a section nearly unblemished and it would appear to end the debate…“The stone blade is attached to a silver hilt, and…it’s only adornment of note is a single red ruby in its pommel — which has been carved and inlaid in the shape of a single letter – G.’

“That settles it,” Adarius laughed. “The dagger on the table has a hilt of bronze.”

“And,” added Rian, “there is no ruby in black cap.”

“I still am not satisfied.” El-Janus continued to resist.

“Let me go!” Struggled Emcorae, reaching out to grab his dagger.

“What would you have the Council do, Mysstro?” Rian pleaded. “Surely we cannot retain this boy’s property? That would not be our way.”

After a pauses, El-Janus finally agreed. “Take it, Emcorae Azop.” Here he let the boy reached out to grab the blade, but he didn’t release him completely, and to the group, he added. “There is more to this story than meets the eye. Forgive me for withholding this information, but this is the first moment when I can reveal another curiosity about the boy.”

“What?” Adarius asked.

A cold sweat broke out on Emcorae’s forehead and even before his master spoke, he knew with dread certainty what the Azora would say. “The boy claims to have seen a baal – in the flesh.” El-Janus averred. “And, I am inclined to believe him.”

The entire council was shocked to hear of this grave news – for talk of a living baal was the stuff of legends.

General Adarius was the first to speak,“What does it mean, Lore Master?”

Yet Dallegheri was just as shocked as the rest and, with horror written on his wrinkled face, he barely managed a wheezing reply, “I know not.”

Debate roared again at the table, yet Rian soon quelled the discussion, “Friends, Confidants, we are not going to solve this mystery tonight.” Then, to Dallegheri, “Wise One, will you kindly review The History and advise us as to when was the last documented sighting of a baal?”

Dhalligheri nodded. Then, after another coughing spell, he said, “It might take some time, <cough> for none I know have <cough> witnessed such a terror.”

“In any event,” Adarius interrupted, “clearly this is not good.”

To which the elfess Helena replied, “One wonders if this is perhaps why the child was sent to us by Alyssa?”

“What do you mean?” Rian questioned.

“Just this,” Helena explain. “If the daemons want him, clearly there is a reason.”

“One we must discover.” El-Janus agreed.

“Perhaps he’s cursed?” Adarius offered – much to Emcorae’s dismay!

“Perhaps he’s destined to greatness?” Helena countered. “Surely our goddess would not have sent us a blighted manchild to attend to.”

“A good point, Helena.” Rian agreed. “Let us adjourn for now. As to what is the mystery of Al-Corragio’s dagger, what to make of the baal, and even what final destiny is meant for the boy, these truths will take time to discover. Yet, what is clear is this – Alyssa sent him to us for a reason. We may not know what it is yet, but we must trust in our Matron. Do we all agree?”

The Council gave a unanimous verdict.

At this, El-Janus finally placed Emcorae back on the ground. The elf warrior bowed low to the boy and looked him in the eye. “We apologize for the inconvenience, Emcorae Azop. I ask for your forgiveness”

“We were only trying to protect you.” Helena explained.

“Had this indeed been <cough> The Grim,” added Dallegheri, “You would not want to be <cough> in possession of such a weapon – one powerful enough to <cough> bring even a god to its knees!”

Although he mumbled his forgiveness, in truth Emcorae barely heard what his captors were saying; instead the tired boy had but one thought – don’t give up the dagger! And he held Alfranco’s blade tight to his chest in both hands, as his eyes longingly searched for a way out of the room.

El-Janus knew his young pupil was immature at best, and tired beyond compare. The mysstro then knelt down to look up at Emcorae — trying to give the boy a subconscious feeling of power over him by allowing Emcorae to hold the higher ground, “My pupil, let us get to you to bed. Your dagger is safe…with you. I will show you how to fight with many other weapons, yes, even a real sword. And perhaps, in time, when we understand it more, with this too.” And he patted the boy’s hands as they clenched the knife. 

Meanwhile, as he watched the council member depart, Rian remained at the table – still uncomfortable – for never had Teresius been wrong before. And although the prophet had not of a certain indicated that Emcorae’s dagger was the legendary Grim, the seer certainly seemed to imply it. Yet since Teresius himself was never able to help in the interpretation of his portents, asking him would do no good. (6)

What time he finally got to bed that night, Emcorae never knew. Yet, it seemed much too early the next day when El-Janus came to wake him. Trying to stay in bed – even though the other Amorosi youths had all since left from the Youth Quarters – the boy closed his eyes and prayed, “Oh, Lord, please let me just go back home. Back home!!”

“Emcorae,” came the call again.

Hoping to see his mother, the boy opened his eyes. He was disappointed to see El-Janus standing over him – his master was clearly not amused. 

“From now on, my pupil, you will awake before the dawn. For that is when our training will begin from anon. To make certain of this, you will be moving in with me. Gather up your belongings. We have much work to do. Much work indeed!”

Nektar’s Notes

  1. Don’t get me started on Arbola Forest – one of the goddess Alyssa’s favorite spots and a realm that was always hidden from my Sight. The Amorosi people have been the cause of more troubles for me over the years than I can count. You’ll learn far more about them in future books than you’ll ever want to know, but for now just sit back and enjoy things as they come. I’m sure you’ll be sick of the elves soon.
  2. During his journey from Monthaven, Emcorae had kept the dagger packed away in his bags; not even mentioning it to his new teacher – for Alfranco had told him to keep it hidden while he traveled so that he would not lose it. He found it in his bags when he unpacked and when he was getting ready for the party earlier that day, since the dagger was the only weapon he owned, and since the celebration was to mark his starting on the path to becoming an Azora warrior, Emcorae reasoned that he might as well wear his grandfather’s dagger so he at least looked the part. Little did anyone know that the blade Emcorae had affixed to his belt was one of the most powerful weapons ever created upon your world. Alas, if only I had known this!
  3. A few words about the elfess Nathily. If you’ll recall, the Amorosi traced their lineage back to the union of the lumenarc once known as Armaros (called Alyssa by her people) and the mortal Adamas. Like the Mylars who came before them, the Amorosi lived long lives – measuring them in the hundreds. Having only seen forty-two summers, Nathily was thus still considered a child among her clan. Nonetheless, her body had been quick to blossom, and she was already statuesque and beautiful, with golden hair that flowed in waves like silk and a golden body to match. Although most Amorosi were lithe and slender and their people were beautiful compared to the other men of Terra, Nathily stood out further still – for the elfess was graced with truly“goddess-like” features: her softly chiseled face seemed as if it was the vision of a dream, and her emerald eyes had already captivated more than a few of the males in The Forest. In fact, Nathily’s jewel-like eyes set her apart from the other members of her race, for whereas most Amorosi had dark eyes that matched the colors of the earth – dark brown, forest green, or ocean blue being the most predominant shades – Nathily’s lighter shade was unique. It was a beautiful “mutation” for which Nathily was often admired, for her eyes were quite striking to any who looked her way.
  4. Twelve.
  5. What Emcorae didn’t know was that Dallegheri was over 1,100 years old (1109 to be exact) and was, by far, the old known Amorosi in recorded history. Withered but wise, Dallegheri was the resident Librarian Extraordinaire of Arbola, the Lore Master General, and the Advisor Emeritus to the Arbola Council. As for his appearance, Dallegheri was in fact so old that his hair had actually faded from white to a more ancient-appropriate yellow-white. His skin, brittle to the touch, had begun to sag on his face – it had long since lost its “elvish glow” and in truth, now seemed to match the faded colors of the librarian’s beloved parchment papers he was ever reading. Dallegheri was, in short, a living relic.
  6. How convenient for Teresius, eh?
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