Atonement

Magister Hethurin Fairsong didn’t feel like eating lunch today.  He hadn’t for a while, but now circumstances had changed and he still wasn’t very hungry.  That was mostly because he still had a lot on his mind.  Instead of fishing, or working on lessons as he often did when he wasn’t feeling well, today he had cast a teleport to Silvermoon.  He had finally spoken with Terellion, and found his love still didn’t trust him and with good reason.  Hethurin had so many secrets.  He hadn’t realized just how many he kept.  He told Terellion as many as he could think of, from telling him that Renner is his teacher and a bronze dragon, to things that he had done decades ago when he was a kid.

He felt horrible now, after admitting everything he had ever done.  He decided the best way to feel better would be to make amends somehow.  Some things would be more difficult than others.

He walked down the street he had teleported to and dropped a couple of letters in the mailbox.  Nearby was a shop he needed to visit.  The door was propped open.  Though winter was less pronounced here, summer really was getting closer.  Hethurin walked into the shop.

There was a man behind a counter that lined one side of the shop.  The opposite wall was lined with stone tablets, most of them sitting on the ground, but some smaller models were on a shelf above the ones on the floor.  The man sitting behind the counter looked up from the book he was reading as Hethurin walked in, “Can I help you?”

“I need a stone memorial made.  I need it to be suitable to be placed in a garden.”

The man reached under the counter and took a binder out of one of the spaces behind it.  He placed it on the counter and opened it so that Hethurin could see.  It was full of example drawings.

“Did you have any specific design in mind?  We can engrave anything you want on the stone.”

“Can you shape the stone?”

The man nodded and turned the page to show him some of the shapes he had designed himself.

“What about wings?  Can you give it wings?”

“Wings, yes.  How big do you want the stone to be?”

Hethurin turned and pointed to one of the stones on the floor.  While not massive, it wouldn’t get lost in the flowers and shrubs.  “I’d like something like that.”

“Yes.  I can do something like that with wings.  What name do you want on it?”

“Bug.”

The man raised a brow, “Bug?”

“Umm, yes.”

“Just Bug, that’s it?  Is it a nickname?”

“Oh, umm, maybe Magister Bug.  We could make him an honorary magister.”

The man smiled and nodded as he wrote down his notes.  “Anything else you would like on the stone?  When was Magister Bug born and when did he die?”

“Oh, he died about 80 years ago.  I don’t really know when he was born.  We can just put when he died.  Can you put a little phrase after?  I wrote a poem.”

“Yes we can put a short poem on the stone as well.  What is it?”

“Okay.  Write this down.”  Hethurin cleared his throat as the man looked up from his notes, his brow slightly raised.  “I wake up in the morning and I wonder why.  Why did you have to die?  Your life was so short and it’s not fair.  I bet you think I didn’t care.  But I did, and perhaps too much.  I’m sorry I treated you as such.  I can’t bring you back, but I wanted you to know.  You’re not forgotten, so don’t think so!”

“Really?”

Hethurin nodded, “Should it be longer?  I could write more.”

“No, I think Magister Bug would appreciate all you’ve done in his honor already.”

“Great!  When will the stone be ready?”

“Next week if you pay now.”

Hethurin nodded and handed the man a bag of coins.  His first secret was taken care of.

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The Imps

Hernester looked up.  The chanting had started again, or had it always been there.  Maybe it wasn’t there at all and he was just imagining it.  It sounded like another one of Master Bartlan’s spell chants.  Hernester didn’t remember asking him once why he chanted, but he did remember being told that Master Bartlan just preferred it that way.

“He likes it.”  Hernester whispered to himself.

There was a noise coming from the other room, the room Master Bartlan was chanting in.  It was like a hissing hum.  Hernester had heard that before, and remembered enough to recall a portal of sorts.  He didn’t remember what it was for.  The Master had told him not to touch.

“Don’t touch the portal.” Hernester whispered as he stared at the door.  He had been asked to guard while the Master worked today.  Or was it yesterday?  He couldn’t recall how long he had been sitting, and watching the door.  It was sure the Master was still at work though, so he would continue to guard.

He heard a pop, then a cackling laugh.  Then another, and then yet another.  He kept his watch on the front door.  Finally, there was one last pop.  The chanting stopped.  He could hear Master Bartlan giving instructions to someone in the other room.  He didn’t remember anyone visiting, but the Master often had visitors appear from nowhere.

“I need you to watch the school by the sea.  Someone there banished the last imp.  Make sure you aren’t seen.  And you, I need you to watch the rangers.  I’ve heard they have a new building.  Keep an eye on them there.  You!  You watch the house where they were staying before.  And last, you.  You are going to the ziggurat for me.  Don’t let anyone see you go in.  Wait in the middle, and if someone comes for you, go with them.”

Hernester heard the window open in the other room, and the sound of many small feet scurrying about.  He kept watching the door.

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The Vision

Hethurin Fairsong had been in better moods.  He had tried to keep classes as normal as possible, but he knew his students were likely aware of the fact that something was up.  He lacked his usual patience while teaching.  He knew at least one of them noticed.  Keyalenn had asked during his private lesson if everything was okay.  Luckily, his second private lesson of the day was with Renner.  He avoided walking through any of the hallways by teleporting just outside Renner’s practice room.  He knocked.

The door opened.  Renner walked back to his work table in the center of the room.

Hethurin entered the room, closing the door behind himself.  “Any luck?”

“That depends.  What are you hoping I’ve had luck with?”

Hethurin frowned questioningly.  It should have been obvious what he was asking about.  “Reconstructing a portal from the teleport dust.”

“No.”

“Well, what have you had luck with?”  Hethurin’s ear twitched in annoyance.

“I’m glad you asked.  As you know, we have little portal dust to work with, due to it being from a teleport, not a portal.  A teleport only lasts for a very brief moment, whereas a portal lasts longer and leaves more time for crystallized matter to form.  I’ve come to the conclusion that it will be highly unlikely that we will be able to reconstruct a portal out of what was left behind.”

Hethurin frowned, “Well, now what?”

“That’s where I’ve had luck.  There is enough that we can create a vision of where he went to.  From there, we’ll be able to follow him to the next, if he doesn’t use the spell to garble his words again, that is.  I do suspect that wherever he went, it’s warded, but you should be able to undo it enough for us to see even though we’re not going there ourselves.”

Hethurin nodded, “Will it be the same as before?  I’ll have to stop casting the spell to take us to the vision to undo the ward first?”

“Exactly.  We can do it now if you think you can concentrate on it.”

Renner must have guessed too.  Hethurin twitched an ear, “I’m fine.  Let’s start.”

He conjured a glowing orb as Renner covered the windows.  He let it fade again as Renner joined him at the table. He cast the spell.

The vision started to appear, but stopped mid-way as Hethurin began casting spells to gently unravel a ward protecting the timeline they were going to visit.  It had almost reverted back to nothingness by the time Hethurin cast the final spell and gently pushed through the ward.

They were in Silvermoon, but not really.  It was just a vision.  The room they had arrived in was empty.  Hethurin peeked out into the street from the window.  The were on the second floor of a building.  Elves walking in the street below seemed slow and lethargic.  Two of them looked up, pointing to something at the end of the street.  Hethurin couldn’t see what they were looking at, but he did notice their eyes.  One had blue eyes.  The other had the slightest hint of a green glow.  Hethurin searched for another looking up enough to see his eyes, and upon seeing a third elf’s eyes, he stepped back from the window.  The third had more than a hint of green.  “Renner?”

“I know.  The Sunwell has been destroyed.  He brought him here to change his eyes, don’t you think?”

Hethurin frowned and nodded.  “But where are they now?”

“Gone.”

“How do you know?”

“The portal is a good indication.”  Renner pointed to the portal in the next room.

“Oh, I hadn’t looked there yet.”  Hethurin walked to the other room, and looked at the portal.  There was no way of telling where it went by looking at it, and since they weren’t really there they couldn’t gather the dust from it.  “What do we do now?”

“Do you know where in Silvermoon we are?”

“Not from inside.”  Hethurin said and cast a spell to switch the vision to outside in the street below.  “We’re near the market, but does that matter if we don’t know which timeline we’re in?”

Renner smiled at Hethurin, “Luckily, I know your timeline when I see it.  He didn’t switch timelines this time, just time.  If we go to the same building in your past, we can collect the portal dust.  Then we’ll be able to follow him.”

“You can just tell the timeline just like that?”

Renner nodded, “When it’s one I’m familiar with, yes.  You’ll learn as well, I hope.  End this vision.  We’ll go now to get the dust, so that we’ll be able to reconstruct the portal for next time.”

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Hethurin’s Notes

  • I met with my father before the weekend ended.  He knew.  I think Lani told him, but what’s more, he believes it.  Of course, no one told me, so he got mad that I tried to lie to him about Vaildor being mine.  Really mad.
  • We did talk though, after he got through lecturing me.  I don’t think he quite believes how, but he said he would have to accept it because there’s no other explanation.  He seemed irritated anyway.
  • He did agree that taking Vaildor to be with him in Silvermoon would be a mistake because none of us want mother finding out, and that since Vaildor does have family here to take care of him, he could stay in the Ghostlands.  Lani still wants to officially adopt him because father wants to say he’s just an orphan from that area.  An orphan with the same name as my brother, and a resemblance, but maybe that could be the reason she wants to adopt him.
  • Father said it was best to keep him away from mother because she would “mess up another one”.  I think that means I’m messed up.  I don’t know why.  I feel okay now, mostly.  I spoke with Sath’alor and Kes the other night and he said we’re all messed up.  If that’s true, then there’s really no hope for Vaildor.
  • There are some things bothering me, but I don’t think they’re related to being messed up, at least not messed up by myself.  I guess I really do need to talk to Terellion, but I don’t want to because I’m afraid he’ll leave me.  It was different when Vaildor first came here.  I could agree with Terellion on most things, but now I know I’m his brother, and I feel a little responsible for it too, even if it really wasn’t my fault.  I had to stand there and watch it happen, and now he’s here and we can’t take him back.  Some of the students have agreed to help tutor him, though I’m telling everyone that he’s just an orphan from the Ghostlands; everyone except whoever sees the papers when Lani takes them to adopt him.  I’m still getting the fake papers that will say I’m his father, and I’ll sign whatever I need to sign so that she can prove his one living parent is unwilling to care for him.  The papers will claim his mother is dead.
  • We’ve all agreed to tell everyone else the orphan story.
  • Terellion’s still upset though.  He doesn’t like Vaildor at all.  I suggested that Vaildor could help in the kitchen in payment for his tutoring, and Terellion really didn’t like that.  I think I’ll keep Vaildor’s work in the library where he can arrange the books.  It’ll be good practice for him to read the titles and keep them in order.
  • Anyway, I thought he left one night over it and I tried to follow him.  I took one of the hawkstriders because I thought I could check the road faster that way.  It went too fast.  I don’t really know how to ride.  It stopped, abruptly, in town and I fell off.  I landed on my butt, in the mud because it was raining out too.  I led the hawkstrider as I walked north out of town, but it really hurt a lot so I sat a few times.  Then he came looking for me, I guess, because he came from the south while I was sitting and said he wanted a portal back home to the school.  We didn’t talk about it because we were both so tired then.  My butt got a nasty bruise from where I landed, and my robes were a mess.  Luckily, Tik was able to clean the robes.
  • The next day I had a lot of work to do.  Maybe it was on purpose.  Okay, it was on purpose.  I guess I’m kind of mad too.  I don’t know how to make him see that I’m not going to just abandon my brother.  I don’t know if I can make this better.
  • He’s going to leave.
  • I figure the longer I can avoid talking to him about it, the longer it’ll be until he leaves.
  • Anyway, I went to bed late that night.  Well, I didn’t go to bed.  I slept on the sofa.  He tried to wake me up and get me to come to bed, but I told him we needed to talk and hadn’t yet, and I was too tired to talk right then.  He went back to bed.  I cried.
  • I don’t like crying.
  • The next day, I had classes to teach.  After the classes, I had to check on Renner.  We haven’t been able to reconstruct a portal from the teleportation yet, but Renner thinks there was something odd about the spell my alternate self used.  I wouldn’t know.  We couldn’t hear it right because of the ward he cast right before it to mask his words.
  • After I saw Renner, I decided it was time for a vacation.  I went to Booty Bay for a week. Well, it was a week for me.  It was a few hours for everyone here.  I got a tan and my bruise faded.  I caught a lot of fish too, but I let most of them go.  Tik was surprised with the ones I brought back, but those were only from my last day of being there.  I made sure I came back exhausted and ready for bed by waking up early that morning.  I left the fish for Tik and told him I was going to bed.  He asked if I meant the sofa.
  • I meant the sofa.
  • It’s comfortable, at least.

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Aeramin’s Notes

  • Things have, in fact, happened while I was away.  I came back to an imp being kept in Hethurin’s stable.  Who the hell keeps an imp in their stable?  At least it was frozen, and warded.  It believed Hethurin was its master, which is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.  It had to be the most stupid imp to ever come out of the nether.  It would have been amusing if it hadn’t been kept at the school.

  • Anyway, he showed it to me after I finished with my classes this week.  They all did the work I asked them to, so I was correcting it when Hethurin came to see me.  Maerista did okay with teaching the classes.  She’s further ahead than the others, and was the logical choice to step in for me while I was away.  Anyway, he had some other things he wanted to talk about first.

  • Apparently, he’s studying chronomancy, which could get him in a lot of trouble if he’s not careful, and it seems he’s already not careful.  He said it was an alternate timeline where he kidnapped his brother or something.  Anyway, the kid is here now and staying with his sister, who wants to adopt him.  Hethurin’s going to tell everyone that he’s the father and he’s going to let Lani adopt, but he needs papers to prove he’s the father and that the mother is gone.  He asked me to help with that, and gave me the gold for it.  Hopefully, Kes remembers where she got the papers for Hethurin when we hid him with a changed name.  They worked well enough to convince an entire town that his real name is Hethurin Fairsong.

  • So there’s that, then there’s the imp.  Hethurin seemed less concerned that there was an imp in his stable than he did about the whole brother thing.  He said dragons weren’t coming for him, and if he knows that for sure, I’d be more worried about the imp, if I were him.

  • He was keeping it in the hay loft, behind somethings and warded.  I still can’t figure out if being stupid was an act or just its natural state, but I couldn’t learn much from it.  It did say something about more coming.  It clarified that it meant more imps upon being questioned about it.  When I asked where the imps were coming from it said they were coming from ‘old master’.  I banished it at the end of questioning it.  I don’t think Hethurin felt comfortable keeping it there.  I didn’t either.

  • I’m tempted to stay out here a few days, but I guess it’s easier to teleport.  I’d miss Im if I were out here too long.  I do need to talk to the others soon though.

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Nessna’s Log

She’s still watching.  I know she is.  We’ve been splitting up and watching from different areas.  I think I might have taken her spot.  I heard her coming, then I heard her turn away on the first day at my new watch.  Luckily, besides my sister, we’ve seen nothing.  Actually, I’m not sure if that’s lucky or not.  The rangers aren’t many here in the Ghostlands, and concentrating on the ziggurat leaves the other areas unguarded.  That means the longer we don’t see anything here, the longer we’re not able to patrol anywhere else.  In that way, I do wish we’d see something.

I’d like to be able to talk to Vallindra about it, but she’s rather sneaky for a mage.  I start following her sometimes, but she always manages to lose me.  I think she teleports, and it’s a little difficult to track someone who cheats by teleporting.  Maybe I can leave a note for her somewhere to contact me.  Maybe she has found something that we haven’t.  It would be good to collaborate with her to make sure we all have the same information.  However, most of her information will be about ley-lines, I’m sure, and she’ll spend hours talking about them.  I’m not sure I want to listen to that, or subject the others to it.

Our trainees are doing well.  Well, I don’t know much about how the death knight is doing on the night patrol, but he does bake for us during the day.  I’m a little nervous with Rylad getting too close to him, though I do think he’s okay.  I think it’s okay to be cautious where Rylad is concerned, though I do think he can tell.  I caught him telling Rylad that he couldn’t be in the kitchen because he didn’t want to get in trouble with his mother.  It wasn’t his fault Rylad ran into the kitchen. I guess what I mean is that I trust him, but not completely.

There is one person here whom I’ve come to trust completely.  And now I’m sitting here smiling to myself again just thinking about him.  The captain.  He’s sweet and loving.  Rylad already adores him.  He looks a bit like Vessen, but they’re completely different.  Their similarity in looks isn’t the reason I like Sath’alor anyways.  I still miss Vessen.  I know what everyone’s saying behind my back.  It’s too soon.  I don’t know how it’s any of their business anyway, but I am trying to hold off on telling my parents, or Vessen’s father about Sath.  I think my father may already know.  He and Lani are pretty close and she tells him everything.  He’s supposed to visit the school this weekend.  I’m pretending not to know, though Lani knows I know because she told me.  I just don’t want them telling me it’s too soon.  Again, it’s none of their business.  If I’m happy with him, then how is it too soon?

Anyway, I feel very strongly for him.  He’s fueled my interest in big cats now too.  I didn’t have one before, but he’s an expert.  I want to listen while he tells me all he knows.

Not everyone has someone here.  Lin is still staying at the school, though the ranger building is almost done.  She doesn’t have anyone.  But then the way she talks, no one is good enough for her.  I think she’s waiting to find the perfect man, and that’s not going to happen.  No one is perfect.  Everyone has flaws, it’s whether or not you can accept those flaws or not.  For instance, Vessen used to crack his knuckles just before our patrol started.  It drove me nuts, but it’s such a small thing.  I just tried not to be around when he did it.

Anyway, everything is going well.  The building is almost done.  Nothing is happening at the ziggurat, and my brother is going to have another party soon.  Rylad loved the last one.  I’ll be able to dance a bit better this time.

 

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Lanthiriel’s Diary

Dear Diary,

A lot has happened lately, again.  The biggest news is that the Confessor has been talking about marriage.  He spoke with my father already!  I’m thrilled, of course, but at the same time it’s hard to believe it’s really happening.  He asked if I’d like to go to the jewelers with him, but I think I’d rather have him pick it out.  I’ll love it as long as it’s something he chooses.

I haven’t told anyone yet.  I want to.  I feel like I’m about to burst with happiness.  I think Vaildor might have noticed.  He did remark that I seemed cheery and jovial.  The Confessor wishes to talk to him about it so I’m trying to refrain from telling him why I’m so happy.  I want to tell everyone, but I’d rather that it’s official first.

That made visiting my father a bit difficult.  He knows a bit already because the Confessor was by to talk to him, so I did tell him that we had talked, and that while nothing was official yet, it is something we’ve agreed to make official.

Of course, the real reason for my visit was Vaildor, so we didn’t speak as long about my upcoming engagement as I would have liked.  We had limited time, so we had to make good use of it.  He said that he had been warned about Vaildor.  I didn’t like the way he said ‘been warned’, as if he was a threat or something.  I thought perhaps Hethurin had been by and told him another tall tale about Vaildor’s parentage.  Anyway, I introduced them.  I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.

My father walked behind Vaildor and held his hair away from his neck.  He just kind of stood there and looked for a moment, which seemed a bit odd.  I think both Vaildor and I were both a bit stunned and perplexed.  Vaildor was the first to ask what was happening.  That’s when my father said, and I quote, “It’s really him.”

I walked around to see what made him think that.  There, along Vaildor’s hairline on the back of his neck, was a port-wine stain birthmark.  It was small, almost oval-shaped, but rough around the edges.  I don’t remember Vaildor having one, but I was only four at the time.  I don’t remember much at all about him.  Father was convinced though.  He asked to speak to Vaildor alone.

I went for a walk.  I guess it could be possible that Hethurin is telling the truth.  I was worried about what it would mean if he’s really my brother and not my nephew.  When I got back, Father was even more convinced, but he asked me not to tell mother.  He said he would be visiting this weekend to talk to Hethurin.

So now I’m not sure what to think about that, but I’m still really happy about the other news.  Nessna didn’t ask what happened when I met with her, but she did say that Master Amberlight had agreed to make some furniture for the ranger building.  Maybe I’ll buy furniture from him for the clinic.

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