The elder stood at the head of the long table, his words echoing throughout the room for all to hear. “Dilmir, son of Felmir, you are hereby banished from Eld’rin by the moment you leave its boundaries. Since you have seen fit to break our laws, they shall no longer be bound to you from that time on.” He raised his hand, and Dilmir felt a shift of power in the room as an enchantment was placed upon him. The elder sat back down, the tips of his fingers touching, his head slightly bowed. “Be gone from our sight.”
Dilmir opened his eyes, the memory fading. Sharp edges of untamed bark cut into his back, though his leather tunic dulled their power. The rays of the new sun poured over the tops of the trees, illuminating the forest floor about him. Squirrels chattered, unseen above him, and the first of the birds flitted about, enjoying their own innocent pursuits. It was a beautiful day in the Great Forest, fit for many a great event.
Dilmir saw little of this, however. His head was bowed, his brow furrowed, his eyes scrutinizing the ground at his feet, seeing none of it.
How did I get into this mess? If I had just never used my power like I promised myself before I even came here, none of this would have happened. But Alfimir had to intervene. He had to attack me. If he hadn’t, what I did to Cyprien could have easily been passed off as his work. It all comes down to Alfimir. He’s the reason I’m banished, my status as an elf revoked, and Ilrin turned away from me.
“Walk into the Great Forest, and wait until sunset. They will find you.”
The assassin’s words rang clearly in Dilmir’s mind. He was in the Great Forest now, but he wasn’t going to wait until sunset for they, whoever they were, to find him. He knew who he wanted to see. Rising, he plucked a twig from the ground.
“Kelther imir en shenith Alfimiril,” he said, shading the twig with his palm. Dilmir knew the wording of the spell was rough, but could not think of the right words. The elven tongue was an ancient language, nearly forgotten, barely kept alive by those that used it. His concentration appeared to be sufficient, though, as a soft green glow lit up the stick momentarily. It brightened against his skin, then twisted in his hand, and pointed due East.
Dilmir carefully replaced it on the ground, and turned into the trees, his face set.
It did not take him long to reach his destination. He soon came across a small clearing, a little brook running nearby, and sunlight pouring in through the gap in the trees. In the center of the clearing sat Alfimir, calmly cooking something in a hollow in the ground. He looked up as Dilmir approached, but did not seem surprised to see him. His pale features looked out of place in the bright forest.
Dilmir stopped, observing Alfimir silently. After a silence, in which they both looked at each other, Alfimir said, “Is there anything you want, Dilmir?”
There seemed to be a hundred things Dilmir wanted, but all he could say was, “Why?”
“Why?” repeated Alfimir. “Why did I try to kill you?” He smiled. “I told you at the time. You are too powerful for your own good or for that of the others. I would be doing Feylund a service.”
“If you had just left me alone, none of this would have happened,” said Dilmir.
“Oh, I think it would have,” said Alfimir, “though much later. And when it did, it would not have been the nicely organized affair that you just went through.”
Dilmir could feel his anger building, and with it his power. His magic began to bubble within him like boiling water. “Your words are twisted, Ael Alfimir,” he said, emphasizing the honorary title. His voice shook slightly as he spoke. “Riddles are all that reach my ears.”
Alfimir stood. His face had worn a pleasant smile, but now all pretext was gone. His visage was rapidly darkening. “Then allow me to make things very plain for you,” he said, his voice suddenly powerful. “I know why you possess the power that you do, and why you are able to wield it when still so young. You are Dilmir, the son of Felmir, the son of Eludir, the son of Delthimir the Cursed, who’s father was Eltuthar the Black. You are the Dark General’s descendant, and his heir. It is his power that you wield, the same power that killed hundreds of your kin.”
Dilmir felt the blood slowly drain from his face. “You wiped out Eltuthar’s line long ago, erasing it from the records of history,” he said, his voice suddenly quiet.
“Or so I thought,” said Alfimir, towering over him. “What I failed to do when I sought out Eludir was to seek out his wife as well. When I killed him, she was already with child, Felmir, your father. I assumed that Eltuthar’s line would follow the customs of the elves, but no; they bred with a rapidity which amazed me, hoping that I might miss a descendant. And it appears that I did. No, Dilmir, you are Eltuthar’s heir, and you know this perfectly well.”
Dilmir could feel the last of the color draining from his face, so that he looked oddly similar to Alfimir.
Alfimir sat back down, his comfortable smile back in place at Dilmir’s look. “You’ve been friends with that Ilrin for seven years,” he said. “What would she think of you if she ever found out?”
Something clicked in Dilmir’s mind. Ilrin already knew, he had told her himself in the sanctuary. Alfimir didn’t know everything. Dilmir’s momentary shock at having his line recited in front of him, no matter that he had known it already, began to fade. Slowly, a smile crossed over his face, matching Alfimir’s.
Alfimir had tracked down his grandfather and killed him for a crime he didn’t commit. He hadn’t even hid the fact. He had also sent an assassin to kill Dilmir, and when that failed, had threatened the lives of two other elves, both innocent, and one of which had no part to play in the matter, just to get him to comply to his wishes. As these thoughts went through Dilmir’s mind, whirling in and out of his magic, he began to get angry.
He had been angry before, but never like this. Slowly, his blood began to run faster, and his pulse quickened. He felt his power begin to throb within him, beating in time with his heart, so that the edges of his vision began to flicker with each pulse. His magic grew and grew, mounting inside of him until he thought he must burst and was nearly blinded by its might, and then it stopped, as if holding its breath. The entire forest seemed to have fallen silent, waiting in the stillness. In one controlled motion, Dilmir lifted his arm, his palm pointing at Alfimir, and fired a bolt of heat at him so powerful that it knocked him flat to the ground.
“You would kill me, Alfimir,” he said, his voice perfectly controlled, “for crimes that my great great grandfather committed, just so that you may have peace of mind. And yet, you killed my grandfather for a crime that he did not commit. What kind of an elf are you?”
Alfimir rose to a sitting position, his eyes fixed on Dilmir’s. “Merely one that would protect his people,” he said. He then raised his hand.
Dilmir was not quite fast enough. The spell struck him in the chest and he was flung to the ground, pain searing the length of his body. He reached for his magic, and found it somehow withheld from him.
Slowly, his hand still outstretched as though to hold Dilmir down, Alfimir got to his feet. His face showed nothing but contempt.
Ponderously, as though he considered every motion with great care, he drew a curve in the air before him with his free hand. The air shimmered orange, and Alfimir drew from it as if drawing from a pocket a long and curved dagger. He fingered the hilt, looking down at Dilmir thoughtfully.
Dilmir tried to get up, but found quickly that he could not. Alfimir was indeed holding him still in place. Out of options, he lay back on the ground, watching the dagger.
Alfimir considered him for a moment, his head tilted to one side. “Perhaps,” he said slowly, “the Dark General was not as powerful as I thought.”
A moment later, he raised the dagger high above his head, and then plunged it downwards, straight for Dilmir’s frantically beating heart.