Chapter 56

Chapter 56. Brothers

He approached them against the wind so that he could study the family before they knew he was there. The father was showing the child something interesting on the ground while the mother supervised them with a tender smile on her face. As the child looked up he could see that she had her father’s blue eyes. When she saw him she pointed and laughed. Obviously her blue eyes had the sharpness of elven eyes to, not just the color. 

The mother looked where the child was pointing. Her shoulders tightened and she sprang up on her feet. The father turned his head in the same direction and the tender expression in his face disappeared completely.

Quickly the mother grabbed the protesting child and held her close to her. The father held his arm protecting around his wife and looked at his brother with an expression of tense anger while the mother seemed to shrink under Toraldor’s glance. The sad submissive look in the mothers face made Toraldor feel much more awkward than the open hostility in the Thorundurs expression.

Toraldor bowed, first towards Roe and then to his brother, Thorundur, and held out his hands to show that he came in peace. Roe nodded slightly towards Thorundur.

“I come to ask forgiveness for my wrongdoings”, Toraldor said, still with his hands out. The words he had so feared to speak had come out easier than he had expected. 

Thorundur’s jaws were still tight though, his fists clenched and he did not move or say anything as he stared at his brother.

Roe nodded to Toraldor, the child still on her hip. Her face showed no trace of anger, rather a sadness that made Toraldor feel ashamed as he knew that he was the source of her sadness.

“Roe, my dear sister, I come here because your daughter has a cousin and I wish that we could be family as we should be.”

Finally Thorundur spoke. “After all you’ve said to my wife, do you really believe that you can come here and expect us to embrace you with open arms? You called our marriage disgusting and Rania, our daughter, an abomination. I don’t want you anywhere near my family. Go back to the elves, I’m a mortal now and belong to the Forest people that you despise so much”.

Before Toraldor could say anything, Roe spoke softly. “Toraldor, I gladly accept your apology although for my sake none is needed. I understand your anger towards me because I know that you love Thorundur like I do.” Then she turned to Thorundur and said “I think that you should give your brother this afternoon to speak with you. He has come here because he loves you. I will go back to the house with Rania and you and your brother can go down to the stream and sit down and talk.”

Thorundur had not said a word during their walk to the bank of the stream. They sat down under awkward silence.

“Your daughter is beautiful, I’m very sorry for everything that I have said. I have missed my brother.”

Still, not a word from Thorundur.

“Are you happy now?” Toraldor asked.

Finally Thorundur spoke. “I’m so happy it almost hurts,”he blurted out. “Finally I know who I am and I feel so very much alive”.

“How does it feel to be mortal? Do you notice any difference from before?”

“Not really. I seem to heel a little bit slower but that’s all”.

“Doesn’t it scare you that your time is so short?”

“No, It’s only the time on earth that is shorter. You wouldn’t believe the things I’ve seen. The forest people’s Mother spirit have actually shown herself and spoken to me. I’m not afraid. Living an eternity without Roe would have scared me so much more. Knowing that I’m mortal makes life so much more interesting. Every day is a gift. Besides, elves are not that immortal. I heard that many of our kind died in the battle. Was it as horrible as it sounds”?

 “Worse actually.” There were dead elves everywhere on the ground. But there were more dead Dark elves than Light elves so if you ask me it was worth it. The Dark elf realm is completely crushed now. Their king was hunted down and slain, and all that remains of their people are scattered.”

Thorundur nodded slowly, still staring at the ground. How is your family?”

“We’re fine. I have a baby daughter too now. But I have missed you so very much.”

“What does Liandra, your wife, think about you visiting me, a mortal elf, an abomination?”

“It was actually she who finally made me visit you. She got tired of my unhappiness and said that I was not welcome back until you and I were friends.” Toraldor smiled a little.

“Mother and father?” Thorundur said looking down into the ground.

Toraldor shook his head slowly.  “You know what they’re like. Nothing can be allowed to disturb appearance.”

“They sent me to you because I embarrassed them, not because they really thought that you would succeed in changing my behavior. Have they mentioned me at all?”

Toraldor draw his breath. “I don’t know if I should tell you this or not, but they have forbidden everyone to even mention your name or to say anything that has anything to do with you.” After a short silence Toraldor laughed. “Do you remember when they decided that you should live with me? They had invited important guests to show off their new house. I was there to. You had been told to keep out of sight after they had shown you cleanly washed in new fine clothes. But you sneaked in and let five snakes out in the dining room and everyone started to scream. Then you ran in to catch your snakes, all covered in mud and with tangled hair. That was so funny.”

Thorundur smiled. “I was glad when they sent me back with you.”

“Father demanded that I would move from this forest and live closer to their community and said that they would disown me if I had anything to do with you.”

“But here you are?”

“Yes, here I am and I’m not moving anywhere. I figure that I have an eternity to reconcile with the elven community but only a human life time to be with you. The choice is easy. I chose you brother, if you will let me.” Toraldor hesitated for a while. “When I came here, I actually still hated Roe because she had made you a mortal. I was going to ask her forgiveness anyway because I want you to be my brother for as long as you will be in this world. But when I saw the three of you together I realized that it’s true what you say. You belong with her. I could see how happy you were together with her and your child. When I asked her to forgive me I was surprised to realize that I really was very sorry for everything that I have said to her.”

Thorundur nodded looking down. “She has suffered more than you can now. It has plagued her that my love for her makes me mortal and maybe even more that she was the cause of the feud between me and you. I’m not sorry at all to be mortal and I do my best every day to make her understand that. Actually I believe that I was meant to be mortal from the beginning and I would choose her before anything or anyone without hesitation.” Thorundur was quiet for a while before he spoke again. “Of course I would choose Rania to. Now that you’re also a father I suppose that you understand what I mean. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do to protect my daughter, and you called her an abomination!”

Toraldor swallowed. Indeed he could understand the anger that had come back to Thorundur’s voice. “I’m sorry,” he said, knowing how insufficient the words must be, but his brother nodded, still looking down at the ground, still not wanting to look at Toraldor.

“Isn’t it strange that there are only two elves that are known to have become mortal because of love and it happens at the same time? Princess Aliendre in now a human queen, married to King Alexander. There were rumors that dark magic was involved or that one or both of them had been kidnapped by Dark elves. What do you believe? You and Aliendre spent some time together and you also met Alexander when he was still a prince.”

Thorundur bit his lip and did not look up as he answered. “I saw her and the prince together and also heard her speak of him all the time. There was no need for magic there, unless love is magic.”
“No, I thought it seemed a bit far-fetched. So you don’t believe that there was any involvement of Dark elves at all?”

Thorundor was quiet for while drawing some random figures on the ground with a stick. “I might tell you more someday, but not today,” he finally said.

This took Toraldor by surprise who had meant his question to be rhetoric but as his brothers blue eyes met his and Thorundur spoke again he forgot everything about kings and queens. 

“I believe Rania would like to meet her uncle. Would you like me to show you our house and then join us for dinner?”

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