”Mother! ”

A mortal lifetime of a hundred years was not enough for Queen Gaelamar to forget the voice of her daughter. Her eyes opened slowly, deep into the sockets of her pale, frail face. Her lips were chapped, and white, with green veins running like tree sap through them. Once a figure of great might and beauty, the Queen of the North looked nothing like her former self.

”Aelanor, ” she whispered, as she tried to pull herself on her elbows.

”Mother, I am here, ” Aelanor bowed down to the Queens bedside, her face shocked and devastated. ”Please, do not strain yourself much. ”

”Oh, my daughter, ” Queen Gaelamars face shined with hope and joy, something she had not felt in a long time, ”I have no fear of anything anymore, my dear. You are back! ”

Aelanor looked at the sickly face of her mother, the one who went through an inferno, sending her own daughter to the jaws of mortality just to see her happy, and then waited for so long without any hopes of seeing her ever again. Tears glittered in her eyes as she remembered her days in the Eternal Utopia, and wondered what would have happened if she never left.

”My Queen, I never thought Id see you like this, ” Nimuels voice brought Aelanor back from her reverie. She too, had tears in her eyes, and was trying hard to control them.

”Yes, child. Me neither, but I suppose we all have to face some sort of surprises in this lifetime, isn it? ” The Queens voice was just as frail as her body, but it was steady, and powerful.

”Yes, my Queen. ” Nimuel said.

She came closer to her and sat down on the bed beside her. Aelanor was still on the floor, crying silently. Nimuel brushed her hair with her fingers ever so softly and pulled her up on the bed, beside the Queen.

”Youve aged, ” Queen Gaelemar chuckled.

”I prefer to think that I have matured, in terms of age as well as mental faculties. Tell me mother, don the elves have the same mental growth as humans? ” she asked.

”Of course, we do, my child. In fact, we are wiser than any other race, and we are the same ever since our birth. ”

”Then why does my father remain a stubborn child at his age? ”

Queen Gaelemar gave a sad chuckle, and sighed. ”Daughter, your father was as arrogant as any creature ever born, but that is of the past. This behaviour of his, this hatred for you, is not something I believe comes from his arrogance. He loves you, Aelanor, and he was devastated when you left, but his ego got the better of his emotions, and he pretended that he was glad that you were gone. ”

Aelanors face was unreadable. She was shocked that the King had any feelings for his own daughter, and she was shocked that it came as a news to her.

”The King I met today was not devastated, but proud and arrogant that he finally managed to to defeat his daughter. And he was proud to show off his new heir to me, ” she scoffed.

”Yes, about her, ” Queen Gaelemars voice shook as it was apparent that speaking was causing her discomfort, but she seemed determined to tell Aelanor something, ”Moraen is not my child. ”

”What? What do you mean? ” Aelanor sat up straight, confused.

”It means that the King had her with someone else, some commonfolk from the far end of the kingdom, ” the Queen stated, calmly.

”Then how can she be the
ightful heir to the throne? And how are you not worried that Father had relations with some other Female? ” Aelanors voice was shrill.

”Because he did not, ” she smiled, ”your Father loves me more than his own life, and he would never do anything to hurt me. I trust him with everything I have. ”

Which was true, Aelanor thought.

”And if Moraen had his blood, she would be his true heir, since I belong to the North, and the capital city is in the South, ” she continued. ”Which still doesn make her the rightful heir, since she does not have the Kings blood. ”

”So, what happened? Why does Father claims her to be his daughter? ”

”I believe he must have been hoodwinked. Or cursed. Your Father has become less and less like himself ever since this villainess showed up. ” She gasped, and continued, ”My apologies, dear. I was not thinking. ”

”Its alright, mother. I do not think you are calling her names, I think it is happening for real. There is some kind of villainy going on around here. ”

”All this to dethrone you and devoid you of your birthright, ” the Queen said.

”I don care about that, mother. I would never have returned to the Eternal Utopia if not for you. ”

”I know. ”

”But I need to know what happened to you? How did you get sick? The elves don get sick, mother! ” Aelanor sniffed.

”I don know what has been going on, dear. Many village folk have contracted some sort of disease, and the druids have been called, but they could do nothing. None of the elves is dead yet, but it seems like it won be long before we start dying. ”

”Did you come in contact with the village folk? Pray, how come you got this disease? ”

”I sent out a few messengers to help, but I did not meet them myself. It would have been my instinct, but the King had imposed a strict lockdown months before the disease even showed up. ”

”When did Moraen come here, aunt? ” Nimuel cut in, unexpectedly.

”Nimuel! I said I do not care what Moraen is upto. Id gladly give her my throne and my riches, but I need to know what happened to mother, ” Aelanor hissed.

”I know, Aelanor. But isn it strange that the King would place a curfew out of the blue if he had no reasons to think that its not safe to move out? When did Moraen arrive, my Queen ” she asked.

”A couple of years back. The King just brought her in and introduced her as his daughter, no concrete explanation given. ”

”Do you mean to say, ” Aelanor mused out loud, ”that Moraen was the bringer of the plague? ”

”It is possible, cousin. If she has hoodwinked the King, she must have bewitched him to forget about his duties. But she could not have stopped him from loving the Queen, which is why the King must have placed those restrictions for her safety. Only it didn work. ”

”But we have no evidence of her wrongdoing. Mother, what do you think? ”

Queen Gaelemar groaned a little as she tried to sit up straighter, ”I am not certain, and I would suggest you do not start pointing fingers just out of your suspicion. Moraen has not been seen doing anything suspicious by me or the palace folks. Moreover, it would be imprudent to talk about this in above whispers. I, for one, believe that she simply might have been aware of the future, because of her prophetic magic. ”

There was a silence as Aelanor mused over the words, while Nimuel looked troubled. There was a sudden voice and a cacophony of loud voices coming from the entrance, and two harried-looking guards came running down to the Queens chambers.

”Your Highness, its the Shaman from the mortal lands, ” one of them informed.

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