Kcasamenzay sends for Thranduil
There was a soft noise behind him. Thranduil turned around. There was a monkey, about the size of a badger. It had wings, and a hat and waistcoat in red, covered in nicely embroidered small silver dancing wolves. The monkey looked at him. It closed one eye and peered closely at him. It made a noise like a chattering laugh and took out a quince from under its hat. It proffered the quince to Thranduil. He gingerly reached out and took it. The monkey sat on its haunches and fiddled with its tail as if waiting for something. Thranduil sighed. “You want me to eat this?” The monkey gave him an almost imperceptible nod. “Now?” The monkey sighed as if to indicate that the question wasn’t really even worth asking.
Thranduil popped the quince in his mouth. He bit into it and promptly toppled over unconscious.
He found himself in the study of Kcasamenzay’s tower. He was laid out, as he’d collapsed. He picked himself up and thought, as he glanced at his hands that his skin appeared to be quite translucent in this light. There was a yicduroh-armoured figure watching him. Black Lamellar with dark blue silks. Jadhrim then. Carnc of Sharifika, Princess of the Sindalië on her father’s side, and Princess of the Gwaithor on her mother's. Damn. He caught himself staring. She winked. He felt himself blush slightly. Gwathló women did that to him. And they all seemed to know it. She nodded her head, indicating that he was to move. He paid her first obedience before moving.
As Forgileill had done before, he stepped to the centre of the deep blue woven carpet and stood facing the huge desk. Unlike his Lyio, resisting the urge to sidle over and go through the papers, or even light the candle atop the draconic skull was no great chore. Even if Jadhrim hadn’t been behind him, he wouldn’t have wanted to touch anything in this place. Thranduil closed his eyes, breathed deeply and began to clear his mind. He didn’t get enough time.
Kcasamenzay entered, immaculate in formal gown. He briefly remembered the altogether lighter garment she had worn when she took him flying over the Gulf of Candau that night nearly two years ago. He stifled an involuntary gulp and put his thoughts elsewhere.
He sank to his knees in third obedience, the lacquered scales of his yicduroh rasping gently as they slid across each other. Thranduil kept his face down and his fists on his knees.
Other figures entered the room and stood about. There were two more ladies, one in the garb of a prelate of Corellion. The other of an order subservient to that, but not one he specifically recognised . There was a priest of Labellas and one of Erevan, whose face was shrouded.
“You’re here to do my bidding, ilin,” said Kcasamenzay. He felt rather than heard the clerics' disapproval at her manner.
Thranduil looked up. This wasn’t a telling off. He sat back on his heels and nodded as she continued. “My Clan, more than yours, demands things of its members. And these things, more than any other chosen path, place us in harms way.” As always the ilin classes began by setting out things as they were. The establishment of common ground. If she hadn’t have said something like this then Thranduil might have been surprised. Kcasamenzay hesitated then. She obviously knew what she wanted to say, but not how to say it. At least, not how to say it to him. They all knew about the ilin bond between Forgileill and himself, this was not just a ‘look after our niece’ speech.
Thranduil sat. Despite his latent apprehension at being in Kcasamenzay’s presence, he found himself trying not to enjoy her awkward moment. The Priestess of Corellion spoke. “The dangers facing Forgileill are more than just physical. It is moral. She has a purpose, which will be revealed to her at the end of Beryn Fin. (As yours will be to you, eventually.) Until that time, the path upon which her clan has set her takes her very close to the dark path. It would not take much to lose Forgileill therein.”
The other priestess spoke. “There is a tradition of strong spellweavers amongst the female Gwathló.” She nodded to Jadhrim and Kcasamenzay. “They are there for a purpose. Forgileill must grow and one day join our order.”
The priest of Labellas. “The danger is that if she does succumb to the dark path, that the nostir may follow her, as they followed Feanor. They would turn from the Seldarine, turn from Freedom, Beauty, Truth and Love and follow their new Queen down the dark path.” There was deathly silence. The priest continued. “The last time this happened Araushnee, being divine herself, was able to manage that transition. This lead to schism and hatred, to three millennia of war and kin strife. Forgileill is no new Lolth. She would perish utterly, and her followers with her.”
The Prelate of Corellion spoke again. “It is of the utmost importance to all the Nostir that Forgileill does not follow this path. This is what the Gwathló have summoned you here for, Thranduil of the Lominlindi.”
“To keep her following the path of Freedom, Beauty, Truth and Love?” He hoped that he hadn’t sounded too dismissive of such a monumental task. He looked at Kcasamenzay. She just looked at him. “Those who know that the sun shines brighter over the hill take inspiration from the long, dark climb.” Quoted Jadhrim, moving to stand nearer her cousin.
“To keep her on the path of the Seldarine, which is wide indeed, and winds and twists always. It should not be too hard to somewhere were her feet will fall, still on the path and she will still feel as free as she actually is.” Said the second priestess.
“If I bent all my will to such a course of action, it would not guarantee success.” He noted. “But I will try.”
Thranduil raised an eyebrow. This sound an awful lot like pre-destiny, rather than freedom. She priestess looked at him. “The future is always dark. And darkness is always thickest just before dawn. There are many possibilities and nothing lasts forever, ilin.” So this wasn’t total control then.
“No bird who soars too high if she is carried on her own wings.” He tested, awaiting a response that might reassure him. There was a long silence. Thinking space, granted to Thranduil to contemplate all that had been said so far.
“Just keep her off the dark path.” Said Kcasamenzay, her voice was half command, half plea.
Thranduil glanced at all of them, the unspoken question hanging uneasily in the air. Slowly, one by one, their faces turned to the one figure yet to speak. The masked cleric of Erevan nodded slightly. He knew that Thranduil understood what was being asked of him. That if Forgileill should stray onto the dark path, his next act would be the defence of not just his own people, but of all the Nostir, everywhere.
Theoretically the white order would assassinate a rogue Blackrobe on the orders of the Council of the Assembly. This was not really that different. Four priests of the Seldarine, two Blackrobes and high ranking members of their Clan had simply given him pre-conditions. For a moment, Thranduil could not see how Forgileill could ever tread the dark path - she was the very embodiment of the spirit of freedom. It was just a moment. The Truth was a quarter of the way of the elves, and the one that many found most uncomfortable. Of all the people he had ever met, she was the most careless in her flirtation. Flirtation with all things, danger, hearts, loyalty, power. Anything that she found exciting. Evil as well? His heart felt heavy.
Kcasamenzay walked over to where he was. As he stood up, she knelt down, her face tilted up to his. “I am the one who set on the course she follows. If there is fault or blame here, it is mine, not hers. If what is being asked of you is too much, again the fault is mine. Although I would not ask this of you, except that you have been chosen by providence.” She bowed her face to the floor.
Jadhrim stood before him, next to where Kcasamenzay knelt. The scales of her yicduroh whispered against one another as she dropped to her knees. She too lifted her chin and addressed him. “Forgileill is my cousin, as a child myself I was there at her birth. I helped bury her mother. She is of my blood and I love her dearly. I would offer my life for hers if I could.” Tears welled up in her eyes, but her voice did not falter. “Her wellbeing is paramount to me. If she strays, then you must act.” Thranduil’s hand touched her cheek, his thumb wiping a tear from her face. “But if you can save her, know that whatever happens, I will come to you, however you wish.” She too dropped her face to the floor.
Thranduil stood, dumbfounded. The four clerics looked at him. He did love Forgileill in some way, even if it wasn’t Thiramin. But could he slay her to save her from herself? He nodded once. The three faces he could see smiled at him in silent benediction. He hoped that it would be enough. He hoped that he would prove to be enough.
More of the teachings of his father as Lyio and of his mentors ran through his mind ‘Determination today leads to success tomorrow’. That was one of his father’s favourites. ‘Courage does not always roar, sometimes it is a quiet voice that says “I will try again tomorrow”’. Inscribed in cirth above the refectory door in the monastery.
He looked down to the two most powerful people he had ever been in the presence of, besides the Grand Master of Flowers. He reached out to touch their shoulders and draw them back to their feet. His translucent hands faded even as he stretched, fading completely from sight over the few heartbeats it took him to fade back into unconsciousness.
He came round in the same crumpled heap that he’d found himself in at Kcasamenzay’s tower. Only he was back in Diaton. In the flesh. His scalp hurt. The monkey finished tying knots in his hair and chattering loudly, spread its previously unseen wings and flew away.