The Tholos at the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia,  a circular building with Doric columns 380 BC . Delphi GreeceLife never tasted so good.

Merasiel inhaled deeply as she and her companions emerged from the tunnel beneath the island. She lifted a hand to shield her eyes from the bright sunlight and breathed over and over again, forcing clean oxygen into lungs that had been still for too long. Her senses were alight with colors, a harsh contrast to the hazy gray dullness of the underworld. The rippling blue of the sea sparkled and caused pinpricks of pain in her vision as her eyes adjusted from the darkness back to the light. The dusty browns and grays of the ruins around them mingled with whatever green overgrowth had taken over the buildings. The familiar tang of the sea teased at her nostrils. She squinted up at a sky pockmarked with puffy white clouds, and took several long moments to process it all.

How long have I sought death? She mused. Everything I have done since returning from the Crusades, all the lives I’ve taken, the alliances made and broken. For so long I wanted the end of it all. How much time did I waste? And when I finally achieve what I desired…

Her thought was interrupted as the cry of a sea bird echoed across the island. Her sharp eyes caught sight of the creature quickly and followed it on its journey. It twisted and twirled in the eddies of the wind and eventually dived low to the water, beyond her field of vision.

I…I want to live.

Harkwood, Midsummer, 2009ce

He barely noticed the noise of the city around him. Shopkeepers hawked their wares in his direction, but he paid them no heed. His feet carried him forward against his will, and he ignored every passerby that brushed up against him. He probably had been pickpocketed a dozen times over, but he didn’t care. The cold, iron knot in pit of his gut dulled his normally sharp, Elven senses. He didn’t want to go back to the inn. He dreaded the coming discussion with every fiber of his being, yet he could not find reason to tarry any longer. She waited for him there, he knew. Once again, he cursed his stupidity.

Mendelel replayed his own part of the conversation mockingly in his mind as he walked. “I found them! There are survivors, and one of them is a scout in the forest outside the city!” He let out an angry snort. I shouldn’t have said anything until after I knew more.

All too soon, his feet carried him to the inn, and he looked up to the window of her room, his eyes meeting her anxious gaze.


What is keeping him? If he got himself pickpocketed again…wait, there he is. But something’s wrong.

Merasiel glared out the window, her expression barely concealed behind the foggy glass pane. Mendelel’s usually jolly countenance was missing. The corners of his mouth turned downwards in a frown, and his normally springy step had been replaced by a slow, plodding walk.

“Something is very wrong”, she murmured, and bolted from the window.

Merasiel met him at the bottom of the stairs. Before he could say anything, she blurted out, “He’s dead.”

Mendelel shook his head. “No. He’s not. He is alive.”

She grabbed Mendelel’s arms with her hands, an unusual joy glimmering in her eyes, “That’s a good thing, yes?”

“You need to sit down, Merasiel.”

“Why? What’s wrong? Tell me.”


Merasiel interrupted him, shaking his arms so his teeth rattled against each other. “Tell. Me.”

“The scout I spoke of. Her name is Miratariel, and she…” Mendelel paused, then continued with a sigh. “She is his daughter.”

Merasiel’s grip fell slack, and she sank down to the steps. She couldn’t conceal the look of shock on her face, and in one swift movement, Mendelel seated himself beside her, an arm wrapped around her shoulders in support. “His daughter?” she asked quietly.

“Yes.  When we didn’t come back, he and Erianil were married. She is still alive as well.”

“Erianil.  I see.”

“Mera—” he began, but Merasiel hushed him.

“It’s alright. It’s like you said. It has been nearly a thousand years. Anything could have hap…” she faltered, no longer trusting her voice to continue.

“I am sorry my friend.”

Merasiel painted a pleasant look on her face and shook her head. “There is no need to be sorry. He survived the destruction of our home. That…is enough for me.”

“Are you certain?”

Merasiel maintained her calm expression and nodded, but within, she was a torment of emotion.

I want to die. Why didn’t I die?  Why?

Present day

The cry of the sea bird once more caught Merasiel’s attention.  She watched it for a time, and when it flew out of her line of sight again, she noticed she was alone in the ruin.  Far below, she saw her companions, all of whom had already begun the long trek down to the Gleaming Endeavor. The stout-hearted Northman, the Fool, the Priest, the Swordmaster, the Archer and the strange Mage. All of them cast long shadows as the sun began sinking towards the horizon.  One could not find better companions to live…and die with.

Merasiel picked up one foot after the other and began the long descent from the ruins after them, her mouth parted wide by a genuine smile.