Chapter Fourteen – The Chill of a Cell

Leather boots tramped on wood. Cloaks rustled in the night wind. Mist clung everywhere, like a delicate spider’s web of a million threads. Vines creaked and unraveled to reveal a small room, big enough only for one person. The room was bare, furnished with nothing but a chilling temperature.

Dilmir entered the room.

“You will be tried in the morning,” said the gruff voice of one of the elves. And then the vines wove themselves together, and the icy air closed in on Dilmir.

Dilmir sat. He stretched out his magic, but it met an invisible barrier which it could not cross. He had expected that. He closed his eyes, and remained thus for some time.

After what might have been minutes, hours, or days, Dilmir looked up. He saw a small window set high in the door, its surface shimmering with the enchantment that made it. He stood and looked out of it.

His memory had served him correctly. Even in the dark, he thought he knew the path that the elves had taken. Before him, separated by a raised portion of the root, was Ilrin’s house. Further, Ilrin’s room lay directly ahead, and, standing in the middle of it, looking out of her window, was Ilrin herself.

For a long time, the two of them simply watched each other. Neither moved, neither tried to say anything, though words would not have been heard in Dilmir’s cell anyway.

Ilrin’s look was hard to fathom. Dilmir had heard her speak often of seeing worse elves in those cells, brought from across the land. And now Dilmir was there.

Dilmir could tell that her face showed deep thought and confusion, amongst other things, but above all, it showed fear, fear of him.

Ilrin turned away, and left his sight. Dilmir sat back down on the cold floor and rested his head on his arms, his eyes closed against the world. If every elf in all of Feylund were turned against him, he knew he wouldn’t mind, as long as Ilrin was still with him, and believed him to be as normal as they.

Why didn’t you tell me?

Dilmir knew why he hadn’t told Ilrin. Through all of his seven years here, the thing he had most wanted was to be seen and treated as a normal elf, as though he had no strange power that he couldn’t control. And throughout every one of those seven years, Ilrin was the only elf who truly believed in him. He hadn’t told her who he was because he knew that if he had, she, too, would be turned against him, and he would have to face his identity. He hadn’t told her because he didn’t want to face the truth, because he wanted to forget what couldn’t be forgotten.

What have you done, Dilmir?

But now, every last support was gone, every single thing that Dilmir had ever used for an excuse had fled from him, and now he had to face what he had hidden from for his entire life.

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