Two year later
“You can’t be serious!”
Arlia sighed. Would her father ever take her seriously?
“Father, I made up my mind. Na’Ral is one of the greatest advantages we have in this war.” She saw Magra cringe but carried on. “I won’t let him sit here and do nothing while in the North there is a war going on that kills people and animals and harms the land!”
Magra sighed, as he has done so very often in the past. He should have seen this coming. Over the past twentyfour months, Arlia had refined her magic and had bonded with Na’Ral in a manner that was almost unprecedented. He should have known that his daughter would not be content staying here, studying advanced magic and inscriptions. Should have known that she would set out to join their people in the low lands and fight.
His pride about her strength conflicted with his concern for her well-being. But Magra knew that arguing would be pointless. After all, Arlia was raised to be decisive and independent. She was raised to be a leader. And now, sitting in his arm chair glancing up at her, he could see a younger version of himself in her. The way she held her head, straightened her back, the way she spoke in front of a crowd, her voice calm and authoritative but compassionate and caring at the same time. All of this did not belong into a village, hidden by the trees on top of the Silver Mountains Ridge. It belonged with the army, the fighters, and the battle mages.
Magra inhaled deeply.
“So be it. Prepare yourself, take what you need, and join our men and women in this fight.”
Arlia smiled at him. “Thank you father,” she said and bowed ever so slightly. “I will not disappoint you.”
Magra looked up and into her face, then got to his feet and placed both his hands on Arlia’s shoulders.
“My precious”, he said, in a low and emotional voice, “you never have disappointed me. The only disappointment I could ever feel is if you did not return to us when your calling is over”.
Arlia bit her lower lip, grasped her father’s hands and held them close to her heart.
“Then there will not be any feelings of disappointment in your future.”
With these words, she leaned in and kissed her father’s cheek, then turned around, to leave her father’s study and step outside into the cool air. Now, in the hour before sundown, she savored the stillness, the soft wind, and the faint noises of animals and people awaiting the night.
Arlia felt at peace.
But peace wouldn’t last for much longer.
Soon, she would travel to a place of anger, blood and desperation.
She just hoped that she would not drown in the midst of all of it. She had been to the border of her own land before but had never crossed it before. From afar, she had seen the charred earth, the deep scars in the land, and the withered plants, and it had filled her with a sadness that was almost unbearable.