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Kelhuine Tirlomen “Kel”

Kel
Kel

The birthrate of elven children was never high and the scholars had been studying the steady decline in births over the last 100 or so years in Corwyl. It was not general knowledge that they were worried. Being long-lived, it took some time before people understood there actually was a problem and not simply a statistical anomaly. The evidence itself eventually became too obvious to continue pretending things were normal. For the last 20 years noble and commoner alike had whispered theories, spoken in hushed tones in tiny groups. These were secrets to be kept amongst them, not shared outside the city walls. Not even with other elves.

The first Tirlomen child, Taurean, was born after Kel’s parents had been married many years and overjoyed were they when he finally came into their lives! Quiet and confident, Taurean was a child of moonlight that they delighted in. He had a love of music and a good memory for the old songs; he played many instruments and sang sweet and low. He loved to put on plays where he was an elf of old battling great beasts and saving kingdoms. His favorite ballad was of the coming of Ellowyn and the gift of the Moonblade that was bestowed on the elven hero. He swore to his mother that one day he would return with a Moonblade for her.

But these were the habits and ways of the noble folk and little heed did such nobles give to a common elf like Taurean. He was welcomed (for the most part) in his working-class neighborhood for entertaining the tired workers in the evening around the marketplace fires, but there were always those few snickering about the “uppity ways” of the Tirlomen. Taurean grew stronger and more beautiful. Like his parents, he served his city well as guard and guardian for a decade but his destiny lay elsewhere. He said he was to be a bard of the old ways, a fighter and musician, an advisor to kings. Knowing this in his heart, he knew also that he must leave for in this city “birth” marked everything he did, everything he could have and not have.

On his 30th birthday he bid farewell to his loving parents, to the city with small minds that would not be opened, and strode forth into the wide world. The first few years after leaving, he returned regularly to visit friends and family as he was accepted to a music collegium and had regular sabbaticals. Eventually he had learned all that he could from the collegium and his visits home dropped off as he traveled the world making a name for himself.

So it was that some 5 years after Taurean had left home, his proud parents found themselves with child again! They could not believe their good fortune when this late in their lives they were blessed with another child. Truly the gods were great and merciful to bless them again.

As is the way of such things, not everyone around them was glad to hear the news, for many were the couples who had no children at all and here were these Tirlomens, these commoners, getting two. Whispers of dark spells and sacrifices were tossed back and forth between willing ears. Without Taurean, who could lift any dark mood with a song; their fine home now felt more like a prison that they quickly retreated to late each evening after finishing the day’s work.

A month before Kel was to be born, Taurean returned home. He strode into town a new man, easily mistaken for royalty by the gate guards who did even recognize him as one of their own. With grace and strength he rode his beautiful grey steed straight to his parents’ home and as he hitched his horse to the post outside, he began singing and the door opened and his crying mother rushed to his open arms. And they were once again a family. Taurean was there to soothe mother as she paced anxiously around the house. He stayed at his father’s side as they went about town shopping and making arrangements for the new baby. And the day the baby was born, he told his parents Dara had graced him with a vision, a knowing, and that his new baby sister should be named Kelhuine (she who leaves darkness behind). Taurean would say no more about the vision, except that hers was a name of hope and light.

And so it was that Kelhuine came into the world surrounded by songs of love and devotion and the joyous hearts of her family.

Kelhuine stood at the lectern staring at the letters before her. The squiggles kept moving, it was just so hard to make sense of them. She looked up again at her teacher, “I’m sorry, I can’t see what they are trying to say.” Smack! The teacher’s smooth wooden rod hit the book.

“How is that possible you lazy girl? The words are right there. They are well below your level, WE’VE BEEN OVER THIS MANY TIMES!” Smack went the rod again.

Tears welling in her eyes, Kel cannot see anything now, “I, I, I am trying but I only, only a little of it…,” she says wiping tears from her eyes.

SMACK! The rod hits Kel on the head. She yowls in pain and the stunned class sits very still.

“Read now. Read it NOW.” Smack! Kel is hit again and a gash opens above her ear, a bright red mark.

Kel screams and puts her arms over her head.

“Put your hands down immediately and READ! I said put your hands down, DOWN, DOWN DOWN!” Each word punctuated with a smack from the rod.

“IT IS RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU STUPIDLAZYGIRL!!...

The injustice that followed was almost, but not quite beyond the Tirlomen’s comprehension. Their daughter had been beaten so savagely by her teacher that her mind would never be the same. They were given some coins “to pay for private lessons”. The teacher apologized, “I’m dreadfully sorry that Kelhuine drove me to such madness. Teaching can be a trying profession when faced with students like her. But, I’m sure you know that.” As a high-ranking noble and sister to royalty, the teacher continued her life as normal. It was explained that surely all could see that the loss of a scholarly teacher with so much knowledge to share would be devastating and in the future students “like Kelhuine” would need to pay for their own instructions so as not to hold the rest of the students back. They blamed the victim! An innocent child.

Her parents had served country and Queen well throughout all the wars they had been led into and their son had been an honored guard of the city as well. The time for true bravery was yet before them and they did not hesitate. They sold their townhouse in Corwyl and moved deep into the Valley of the Telerie as Dara had foretold “to leave darkness behind” and found a happiness they did not think possible again. No strangers to hard work and long hours, their new farm and orchards thrived. They made sure their beautiful daughter, their bright golden-haired sun to Taurean’s calming silver moon, would never be beaten like that again. They taught her all they knew. They watched her grow lean and strong working in the fields and at their training grounds. She had the warrior’s instinct of her parents and though her mind was damaged, her body was fleet, her movements sure and strong from muscles that were challenged every day. Her father made her fine elven weapons, like his father before him. Years passed, close family members moved to the farm, and they knew unimaginable joy.

The druids of Telerie could read the signs in the hills surrounding them and they called for defense and allies. As is the way of bards, Taurean had heard of the rumblings of war and gathering of kobolds and he arrived home to take Kelhuine “to see the lands he sang of.” His parents gave him the few gems they had as well as the family heirlooms and jewelry. An uncle with no children had long ago named Taurean his heir and he gave him all he had. Armor and weapons were cleaned and polished. Hair was braided and prayers to Dara were said.

In the tongue of the Elves, Tierlomen means “the Dusk Watch.” As was their custom, the prayer circle was broken when the first evening star was visible, and the elders watched as the two children walked, hand in hand, to meet the future. The elder Tirlomens, noble in heart and deed if not title, went to join the druids in what would be their last war.