Stars Over Llorleya- Chapter 20

Fiction By Anna // 10/6/2008

Chapter the Twentieth

The Elf Lords had come, along with the beautiful Ladies. They were just as the elves had described them: proud and wise, tall and stern, wondrous and great, lovely and fair- Yet there was something about them that was near impossible to put into words; not exactly unpleasant, but not joyful. Aria saw it, and might have called it grimness, but it was more than that; a depth which many of the elder elves possessed, Thrond included. Something that immortality maybe gave them. Aria wondered if this was a taste of what her own future as an immortal star could be, or if the doom of the stars was unlike that of the elves…
When all the lords and ladies had been seated at a long table, Thrond stood at the head. Also at the table sat Aria and the stars, Rayne, and Loth (for Loth, though not nobility, had much to say at the council; and Aria desired Rayne to be with her- as a Llorleyan, she could be needed anyway). The rest of the elf population stood to the side, listening.
Thrond began, "You have all heard of the humans who are invading our land." He stopped as though to let some elf comment, as they had done at the first council. But the younger elves were decidedly well-behaved this time around- possibly due to the lords. Thrond went on, "Before now we had no idea where they came from or who led them. But that has changed. Loth, the helm." Thrond motioned to Loth, who brought forward the human’s helm with Torlith’s crest.
"What does it mean?" asked one lord- for of course the elves would not know until they were told.
Aria stood. "It is the emblem of Torlith, the human usurper who currently rules Llorleya." Aria took a breath. "But here, in the presence of these witnesses, I claim the throne of Llorleya as rightful and only heir."
Murmurs rippled across the room. One lord stood. "Permission to speak, Lord Thrond," he asked.
Thrond nodded. "Speak, Lord Elareil."
Elareil turned to face his fellow elves. "We were told that a vast horde was coming against us, but Llorleya is a small country. How then could Torlith be commanding them?"
Murmurs of agreement, now.
Thrond held up his hand. "Silence, please." He raised his voice. "I admit that we do not know where Torlith would find so many men. But that is certainly Torlith’s crest on the helm, and we have seen it innumerable times now. There can be no doubt as to who is sending them out."
Elareil still seemed doubtful. "What does this have to do with us?"
Loth spoke again. "I propose that we go to Llorleya with Princess Aria, help regain her throne from Torlith, and therefore keep the Elf Havens free of his filth."
There was some agreement, but more protest. Why should they go to all that trouble, just to free a human country?
Loth raised her voice. "We should go because it is the right thing to do," she said. "I know it sounds silly, but it’s true." She held her head a little higher, and in this moment she could have been and Elf Lady herself. "We could fight the humans forever if we stay here, and eventually win. But that would doom Llorleya to a dreadful fate, and no elf should be cruel enough to willfully let something like that happen when they could have prevented it."
This was striking at the elves’ honor- a thing very important to both Elves and Men. Many lords stood then and there to argue. Aria, still standing, could hear her blood pounding through her. How would they respond? Would Llorleya have the elves to fight at its side? Or would she stand alone? Rayne, who had not uttered a word throughout the entire council, laid a hand on Aria’s shoulder. She understood.
Thrond raised his hand and called for silence again. "We need time to consider Loth’s proposal among ourselves. Will everyone but the Lords and Ladies please be dismissed?"
The common elves filed out slowly, followed by the stars, and lastly Aria, Loth, and Rayne. They stepped out of the room, and the heavy door closed behind them. For awhile there was complete silence. Then those who milled about outside the room heard the Elven Lords’ discussion- not the exact words, but the muffled voices.
Minutes increased upon minutes, and wore on to hours. Aria looked anxiously at Loth and Rayne, her heart sinking. Her glow was very pale indeed. "Such a long time… how can they possibly be deciding in Llorleya’s favor?"
Rayne put her arm around her friend. "You talk as one who has no hope. Stop worrying. We’ve done all we can; God will do the rest. No, there’s one more thing we can do… Pray."
Loth spoke up, too. "It’s probably taking so long because it’s a lot to think about. Trust me, if it was unlikely, they would have been done deciding it in a snap." Loth smiled, but she also put her hand on her sword. "Even if they say no and send you home alone, Aria- I’ll come with you. My sword is not bound to this country alone."
As the waiting lasted on like the bees droning endlessly in the garden, Aria prayed harder than she had ever prayed before. Please, Lord… send Llorleya deliverance. And maybe if Rayne or Loth had looked closely at her, they would have seen tears glistening in her eyes.
All this while the voices went on, rising and falling like ocean waves… Rising, falling, rising, falling…
The three companions were on the verge of sleep, and almost missed the moment when the door opened again. It was pushed ajar with a sound like a heavy sigh that jerked them into total wakefulness. Aria shot up quickly, causing Rayne, who had been leaning on her, to fall over, though she quickly caught herself. Loth jumped up with her sword drawn. But when all they saw was an open door, Loth calmly sheathed her sword, Rayne stood, and Aria took a shuddering sort of breath (for breathing tends to be shuddery if you have been crying).
The stars and elves reentered the room. Aria did not bother to sit down, just stood, white-faced and hanging on their words.
Thrond stood, head high, with something like a smile on his face. "The council of the Elflords has reached a decision." He paused. "Loth, you have won your purpose." He turned to Aria, and she could barely breathe for joy. "The elves will go across the sea, Aria. We will fight for Llorleya and your kingdom. We will end this evil, if the Lord wills it to be."
Aria looked so rapt and beautiful that she would have certainly burst into flight had not Rayne embraced her just then.
Raphael stepped forward also. The radiance of his glow was enhanced as his musical voice rang out. "We stars shall fight also." He knelt on one knee before Aria. "We offer to you our lives, for you are our Princess… and our Queen."
Trembling, Aria took his hand, and he stood. "Long live the Starqueen!" he shouted. The cheer was taken up by the stars and elves, and it reverberated through the shoreland like the triumphal ring of bells.
********
Aria, of course, wanted to leave immediately- but as with all things, some waiting was in order. The Elves had to be ready.
No elf would be forced to fight in Llorleya. It would be a matter of personal choice. To Aria’s surprise, many elves made that choice to go. Maybe it was because their lords were going, or Loth’s words had stirred up fire in their own souls, or they felt Llorleya needed them. Maybe they just felt their honor demanded it. But whatever their motivations, Aria was moved when she saw all the valiant elves who were coming to join her. To save her country.
So while the warrior elves began sharpening their swords, restringing their bows, and retrieving old armor from forgotten corners in preparation for war, other elves readied ships to sail across the Mermaid’s Sea (called this for simplicity). These were not warships, unfortunately, for elves had very few- if any- of those. These ships were silver and white and blue and gold. They were very beautiful, but for attacking they were useless of themselves. They were small, and it would take many to transport everyone to Llorleya, but at least they were swift and seaworthy. They were smooth as the water itself and would cut through it with ease and grace, like a white seabird gliding through the sky or gleaming sword slicing through darkness.
Aria’s journey from Llorleya to the Elf Havens had taken rather a long time; but she had been tossed by waves, and most likely, gone in circles and zigzags before the Merpeople took control. Therefore, if all went well with the ships, the journey should take but two months- which, compared with some journeys, is very short- but compared to others is a lifetime. Aria herself was inclined to think of it as a lifetime, though she tried not to show it.
As the preparations went sweeping along, Aria found herself caught up in so much that it was hard to concentrate. She also found that she was spending far more time with Loth and Thrond than Rayne; in fact, Rayne had gone almost completely unseen since it was finally settled that the elves would be coming. Aria would have sought her friend out if she had had the time; as it was, the starprincess was forced to leave it alone.
The days seemed to drag on, like the few hours before a child leaves for vacation. They think that as soon as they wake up the morning of the trip, they’ll be off, but it turns out there are hours of last-minute packing and loading the car that precede departure. So it was for Aria. Of course, leaving for Llorleya was far more serious than a child’s vacation, but the basic comparison is the same.
When Aria awoke that morning, it was scarcely morning at all. But they had planned to leave early, anyway.
In the grey half-light, Aria sprang out of bed in her elf-room for the last time, leaned on the window and smelled the elf-garden for the last time, and flung open the door of her wardrobe for the last time. She dressed as though she were going for a stroll outside, but she also strapped on a sword. Over her long white raiment and wide leather belt, she threw a warm grey cloak over her shoulders.
It seemed that when she stepped out, she should need it. The morning was grey, foggy, and chill. Aria pulled the hood up rather violently, feeling frustrated and thwarted. The mist was beautiful, but it would hinder their leaving. They would have to wait until it cleared, which could be all day.
She walked carefully to the beach, trying to avoid trees and rocks that she could only barely see. She almost bumped into Loth when she got there.
Loth was clad in a grey cloak like Aria’s own, and in the mist it was hard to see her. Loth herself commented on how it was hard to see Aria in the gloom.
"I hope the others aren’t dressed in grey," said Aria. "We won’t be able to see each other."
Loth said nothing, just sat at the edge of the water, listening to far-off waves crashing. She smiled. "Look, Aria," she said, dipping her fingers in the waves lapping at her. The water was colorless without any sort of light; not blue, not grey, not black, not even reflective. "By the time they get to my feet, they can barely tug at me." She half-laughed, folding her arms around her knees. "I love the sea. I love sitting here on the shore and just being still. But I suppose I’ll never sit here again."
Aria sat down next to Loth, concerned. "What do you mean?"
Loth’s smile was sad, now. She looked over at the princess. "I’ll admit that I’m a good warrior, maybe even a great one- but do you really think that many of us will live to return back to our homes?"
Aria remained silent, looking down.
"Aria, you have given me something precious- the chance to fight and defend- and I wouldn’t have it any other way… but some of us will die in Llorleya, Princess, and we won’t come back. It’s just as well that I’m prepared to be one of those who die."
Aria put her arm around Loth’s shoulders. "Loth, I’m not pretending to know whether we’ll win or lose Llorleya- much less who will die and who will live." She sighed, unsure of what to say next. Once again, she questioned the wisdom of the entire venture- then banished the thoughts.
Loth cast back her hood to receive a breeze. Her golden hair glistened, and Aria saw that it was wet. Why or how was anyone’s guess, but Aria thought she caught the scent of the sea in it- though they were, of course, at the shore; the smell could have been from all around.
The Elf breathed deeply and smiled, as though she had forgotten their sobering conversation. "A fair wind is coming," she said. "It will blow this foul fog away for us, and we shall be able to set out for Llorleya as planned." She leaped up happily, grinning. "Well, are you coming to the dock with me?" she asked.
Aria stared once more in wonder at the strange creature beside her, who could go so swiftly from pensive and gloomy to blissfully excited. Then, focusing again, she stood. "Of course I’m coming! What kind of queen would I be if I backed down when everything was finally rolling?"
Loth just laughed. "No one would follow you."
The two traced the shore to where the ships were anchored. Neither were making footprints, as Loth was an elf, and Aria had decided to fly. She wasn’t very high up- saving her strength, she said, besides that it usually made "walkers" more comfortable if stars didn’t fly too high- but it was still exhilarating. To feel your feet leave the earth, and know you weren’t going back down, to feel that you could soar in endless space if only you should wish.
Loth and Aria were almost the first people at the dock. I say almost, because the male stars, Thrond, and most of the Elflords were there before them. Aria didn’t know where the others were; probably finishing getting ready.
Heads turned as those gathered by the ships caught sight of the two women. "Welcome, Princess; Loth," said Raphael, bowing.
Tyri elbowed Raphael. "She likes to be called by her name," he said.
Thrond then did something he rarely did. He smiled. "Aria, it seems as you see it now that everything is ready for departure- except those going. We know the elves shall be here soon, and Raphael has spoken for the female stars, and you and Loth have arrived. But one is missing in our reckoning. Where is Rayne?" (Thrond was one of the few elves who could pronounce the name.)
Aria’s face fell. "I thought you knew."
Thrond’s face changed quickly from his form of happiness to concern. "Then you have no news of her?"
"None at all," said Aria, distressed. "I haven’t seen her since the council."
Before anyone could ask her, Loth shook her head. "I have no tidings either."
As elves gathered onto the ships, and the rest of the stars as well, there was still no sign of Rayne.
It was Loth who at last spoke reason to Aria. "Aria, as much as I like your friend, we can’t wait forever for her. She’s just one person. There is an army waiting for you here, and Llorleyans in your homeland who need you there."
Aria, as though she hadn’t heard, said hopefully, "Do you think she might already be on board? Maybe we’ve missed her, or she was there already?"
Loth shrugged. "Maybe. Maybe not. But we can’t delay any longer for her. We’re going to have to risk leaving her behind, or sacrifice this whole voyage." Loth lowered her voice. "Autumn won’t wait forever, and winter will follow. We must sail now."
Aria hated to admit it, but Loth was right. Leaving Rayne didn’t bear thinking about, but they had to go. She wrenched her gaze away from the shore and onto the ships. She sighed, very deeply, and without a word, boarded the blue ship.

They were off, with Rayne or without.
**********
The thought that they had left Rayne behind continued to burn Aria, the way an extremely tight shoe becomes more and more painful as the day goes on. She wished over and over for some glimpse of her friend- preferably on the ship, but a vision would do- but none came. She looked down at her mother’s medallion, with the flawless, perfectly faceted diamond glinted in the sunlight. "Maybe it’s broken," she said.
The fleet of elf-ships caught no sight of any of Torlith’s; at least not on the coast. Maybe farther out to sea they would find some.
After the fog cleared up, the sea was beautiful; it sparkled a myriad of colors in the sunlight, changing as the eye moved, and dazzled Aria. It was calm, and sailing was swift and easy. Aria got dizzy within the first few hours, and lost her breakfast; but soon she recovered herself, and seasickness troubled her no more. The rhythm of the ship became natural. The rock and the sway and waves and the sea became ingrained in her.
On the fifth day of sailing, Aria switched boats; being able to fly, she could do so.
But that was only five days, and many remained before she would finally see Llorleya again…
****
Aria sat crouched on the proudly carved prow of the Elf-ship. Everything was bathed in moonlight and starshine, and beautifully still, except for the white ship pushing forward through the blue-black waves. But the stars were the real attraction. Aria hardly breathed when she saw all of them, blue and white, silver and gold, sparkling and winking. And I’m one of them, the thought, feeling overwhelmed. Celestia’s up there in that beautiful splendor of night sky. How glorious. (Aria had learned that the name of the star-country was Celestia.)
And then, she thought… I wonder how I’ll possibly be able to rule it. Then her thoughts were deflected as soft footfalls caught her ear, and she turned her head to see- Rayne.
"Rayne!" Aria exclaimed. She stood, her white dress blowing around her, then half-slid, half-flew down the prow so that she stood near her friend. "I feared we had left you in the Elflands!" She embraced her. "That would have been terrible. Oh, it is good to see you!"
If Aria had hoped for the same sort of greeting, she was disappointed. "I thought you might be here," is all Rayne said.
Feeling mildly snubbed, she said, "Were you searching?"
"I didn’t have to. You were here."
"I’ve been searching for you," Aria said. "Where have you been all this time?"
Rayne fiddled with the end of her braid uncomfortably.
"It’s like you just… disappeared. Right after we found out we were going back home."
Rayne paused. How could she tell Aria about how torn she had felt, torn between hatred for killing and love of Llorleya- and fear? So she only said, "You can’t sleep?"
"Don’t try to change the subject!" cried Aria.
Rayne finally answered. "I thought it best for me to be alone for awhile."
Quietly, Aria asked, "What have you been thinking about?"
Rayne shrugged, but it was not a nonchalant motion- more as if she were trying to shed a burden on her back. "Mixed feelings. Excitement is in there, I suppose… and fear. Fear for you, some of it. You’ll be in the most danger because you’re the rightful queen."
"That’s why I’m going," Aria said.
"I know." Rayne sighed. "I already thought you died once. Josh died, too. I don’t want you to die again."
Aria stiffened. "We’ve had this talk before," she said.
Rayne sighed once again. "I know, I know. I’m sorry."
Aria relaxed again. Then she remembered something. "You said fear for me was ‘some of it’. What else?"
Rayne waited for awhile before answering. "Fear of war, fear of death, fear of loneliness."
"Loneliness?" asked Aria, surprised.
Rayne nodded. "I’ve been at the Elf Havens so long, Aria. When we go back to Llorleya, I just know everything I see will remind me of Josh. I’ll feel so utterly alone. And then, there’s Llorleya itself. Will it have changed much? Will I be disappointed? And if it’s not outwardly changed, will I feel that it ought to have changed, because so much has changed for me? I’m sure my heart will break- in one measure or another."
Aria ran to Rayne and hugged her. "Oh, Rayne, I had no idea."
Rayne was crying a little. "I want to go home, I really do, but there’s just so much memory there…"
The two girls stood there for awhile, holding each other and praying. When Rayne recovered herself, she asked Aria, "How about you? Are you all right?" asked Rayne.
"I’m fine about Llorleya itself," she said hesitantly.
"Tell me," commanded Rayne, seeing something was also amiss with her friend.
"I don’t want to bother anyone with it; it’s really trivial in light of everything," she protested.
"Tell me," repeated Rayne.
Finally, In a low voice, Aria asked, "Is it true that Midsummer Day was exactly one month ago?"
"Yes," said Rayne after some thought, "according to the elves."
Aria’s heart gave a queer, fluttery beat. "Then today was Gilligan’s twenty-first birthday," she murmured. "If he’s alive."
"Oh, Aria," said Rayne sadly.
"I told you it was unimportant," said Aria, furious with herself for telling Rayne her secret troubles.
Rayne disagreed, "Oh, I think it’s very important. To you." She thought a moment. "I don’t remember much about Gilligan," she said frankly. "Anything, really. I only know what you’ve told me. But I sincerely hope that he’ll be there to greet you when we step off this boat and on to Llorleyan shore."
Aria smiled. The thought was- literally- brightening. "Thanks for the thought, Rayne. It’s too fantastical to happen, but thanks anyway."
Rayne smiled, too. "I think it could happen," she said. "And you know something else? I think we’ll be the first to spot Llorleya."
Suddenly a thunderous shot rang through the night, piercing the dark. They heard a splash.
The ship lurched as the waves rocked it violently, Aria and Rayne clutched each other to keep from falling.
"What’s happening?!" Aria shouted.
It was Aero, who had been on the ship and came on deck, who answered. "Sounds like cannon fire- I think we’re being shot at!"
Torlith, thought Aria.
Another cannon shot rang. A sickening crunch of wood told them that this one had hit its mark.
More stars and elves ran on deck, lighting up the night. A blue ship had been hit.
Aria’s first thought was that Loth had been on the blue ship, and she too had been on it but a day ago.
**

Comments

Ooooohhh!

Of course, Anna...you had to end it right there! :0) You are a master at building suspense, you know that?
Good chapter! Congrats on reaching 100 pages, that always seems like a celebratory mark to me too!
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
The successful writer of a Fairy Story makes a Secondary World which your mind can enter
~JRR Tolkien

Heather | Mon, 10/06/2008

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

!!!!1

AH! i would say I hate it when you end chapters like that, but then you might get mad and not post anymore! *laughs* just kidding. Great job on Chap. 20! And 100 pages! just think, if the pages were half as small, it'd be 200. Just though you should know, you put "A blue ship had been hit." then next sentence, "Loth had been on the blue ship" i didn't know if you meant there was more than one blue ship, or more than one.
~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~
Abstract, random thoughts flit through my mind,
manisfesting themselves in meaningless doodles.............................

Sarah | Mon, 10/06/2008

"Sometimes even to live is courage."
-Seneca

Blogging away!
busyscribbler.wordpress.com

yay

Congrats on the 100th page mark, Anna!! Thumbs up!
I love this chapter alot; it's so cool. And of course you had to stop in the middle of a battle so we're all sitting on nails waiting for the next chapter.
I do that too. :D

Clare Marie | Mon, 10/06/2008

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve." -Bilbo Baggins [The Lord of the Rings]

Excellent!

Excellent! Ah! I have this feeling that the next chapter will be the one I've been waiting for for ages... when Aria reunites with Giligan! I hope it happens in the next chapter; if it doesn't I'll be terribly disappointed.

Across the seas, he's hid from you,
Your hero, Giligan;
His soul is brave, his heart is true,
Most galiant of men.

Poor Aria, you've dared not hope
To see him e'er again!
Believe it, though; for with such hope
You will not hope in vain.

James | Tue, 10/07/2008

<><~~~~~~~~~~~~><>
"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle

Yes, it definitely builds

Yes, it definitely builds suspense......but that totally makes the next chapter worth reading, especially when you end the chapter with one of the ships getting hit with a cannon :-) Anyhow, great chapter, the 100 mark is the goal of every author.
I have a feeling that something is going to happen to Loth, I don't know why but, she just seem like one of those characters that are going to die somewhere in the story (forgive me if I'm wrong). Loth actually reminds me of one of my characters in my story (the story that I've yet to post). Great chapter Anna! I look forward to reading more of your chapters ;)

marie (not verified) | Tue, 10/07/2008

thank y'all

Heather: Of course I did. Thank you. :D

Sarah: I wouldn't stop posting, no matter how mad you got. :) I think the people who read this later will be more priviliedged than you guys, because you have to wait and they can just read every chapter one after another.
Wow... 200... that's alot.
Oh, and thanks for the note about th ships; I'll have to fix that.

Clare: Thanks. Sorry about those nails... You know what helps? Pillows. Sitting on pillows helps. :D

James: Well, possibly... I hadn't thought aobut doing it quite yet, still have the voyage to cover, you know.
Oh, you wrote a poem for them! Aw! Thanks! :) So sweet.

Marie: Hopefully you would read the next chapter anyway, suspense or not. :)
Nope, not saying anything about Loth. You all just have to wait.
I hope you post that story soon; I really like what you've posted so far and can't wait to see more. :)

-Anna
**********
"Weddings? I love weddings! Drinks all around!" -Jack Sparrow

Anna | Tue, 10/07/2008

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

Yes of course I'm still

Yes of course I'm still reading the next chapter, suspense or not ;-) Thank you for your compliment, yes, I will post it soon.
Your sig. always makes me laugh ;)

marie (not verified) | Tue, 10/07/2008

Yes of course I'm still

Yes of course I'm still reading the next chapter, suspense or not ;-) Thank you for your compliment, yes, I will post it soon.
Your sig. always makes me laugh ;)

marie (not verified) | Tue, 10/07/2008

I'm sorry Anna, this comment

I'm sorry Anna, this comment came up a few times, my computer is acting really crazy :/ I'll try to fix this

marie (not verified) | Tue, 10/07/2008

=)

My Goodness, Anna, you have no idea how much I love this story! Congrats on getting to 100 pages, that's a serious accomplishment! And as always, I can't wait for the next chapter =)

Tamerah | Tue, 10/07/2008

Nice Chapter

This chapter was pleasant.

Loth must be very good with words, she seems to stir up the elves a lot. Or maybe it's just her passion.

And the evil ending,putting Loth in danger!

Anonymous | Wed, 10/08/2008

Tell you what.

Tell you what, Anna. If in the end Gilligan and Aria get married and live happily ever after (no matter how many chapters it takes to get there), then I'll make up a whole epic poem for them.

James | Thu, 10/09/2008

<><~~~~~~~~~~~~><>
"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle

I will keep this in mind,

I will keep this in mind, and hold you to it should the need arise. :D
**********
"Weddings? I love weddings! Drinks all around!" -Jack Sparrow

Anna | Thu, 10/09/2008

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

AHHH!!! Awesome....But I

AHHH!!! Awesome....But I need to see what happens to Loth! Onto chapter 21!

This comment was made by Erin!

"Never, never give up. Unless you get really tired." -Ellen Degenres

Erin | Tue, 03/31/2009

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

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