CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE

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     Elder Valmont had secured the key to the Keeper's quarters for them as soon as he heard of Marcus' abduction by the Black Shuk. He told them it if the Black Shuck had shown himself to so many people, it could only mean one thing; war was coming. Avos knew then, he'd do anything to help get his uncle back. He swore so as Elder Valmont blessed their journey and told them he'd keep extra guards on rounds inside the Citadel and on the perimeter of the grounds.

     Lucinde's old room was empty, as expected, when the three arrived. Chloe stayed in the hallway to keep watch and Avos and Elise went inside and locked the door. Avos studied Elise as she took her time arranging her ingredients on a small white clothe. She constructed a circle out of the acorns she brought and instructed Avos to take a seat inside of it. She sat down across from him so that her altar lay in between them. They were still close enough to each other that he didn't even need to lean forward to grab her hands when she held out her own. Her hands felt so warm and inviting, but his body shivered at the thought of what they were about to do, not at the touch of her skin.

     As they sat crossed legged, Avos' panic intensified as he noticed the last few items Elise had dropped before she sat down. Are those bones? He felt his stomach turn. He thought perhaps Elise does have more secrets than she was willing to share?

Muttering under her breath, Elise began speaking in Valtra again. Avos loved the way the words slipped from her tongue so delicately but with so much power. He could feel her touch radiate as she continued and Avos knew he put all his faith in her. It seemed insane and completely unrealistic that they would be able to accomplish anything while in a temporal form, but Elise assured him there were ways of manipulating the surrounding matter to her will. She told him while they were in a temporal state, it would be easier for her to control matter on the other side anchored to the physical realm. Much more easier, she had said, because of her link to him.

     Her plan seemed simple, Spirit Walk to the Scourge, locate Marcus, free him and temporally teleport him back in full physical form. What could possible go wrong? He suddenly remembered what his Aunt had told him about the elf. Could he truly trust her completely?

"Are you sure you're ready Avos? I sense hesitation? Is it the bones?" Elise's voice sounded steady, but the power she felt within Avos was intoxicating, he didn't notice her strain to control herself. She had never felt so strong.

     "The bones are curious. But it's not that, it's something my Aunt said to me earlier." Avos felt he should clear the air about what his Aunt had told him earlier.

     Elise gently pulled her hands into her lap. "Are you worried?"

     "No. Well yes, of course I'm a bit worried, but what she said sparked by my curiosity, I'm afraid. In truth, I was not supposed to bring it up." He looked towards the door where they both knew his Aunt Chloe was probably pacing about on the other side.

     "Oh no, what has she been filling your ears with?"  Avos didn't respond right away. He swallowed his words as he thought of the best way to go about inquiring about the elf. He didn't want to come off as a jealous admirer, but more like a concerned friend. Then again, he didn't want Elise to think that he didn't admire her or want to be more than friends.  One day, perhaps when this was all over he could finally take her into his arms and have his first real kiss with a woman. "Well out with it, Blue Eyes. " She stared him down as he worked up his nerve. "Come on,  Avos.  We sort of have some business to attend to."

     He choked and felt his cheeks blush. "It's nothing. You're right, there are more important things to worry about right now than wether or not you've been courting an elf." He blurted out the words without even thinking! His nerves somehow got the best of him. Courting? That wasn't even what his Aunt had told him.

     "Courting an elf? What?! That Chloe, I swear to the Light...." she started to get up as if to make her way across the room to open the door to confront his aunt.

     "No! Wait, stop. That's not what she said at all. I'm sorry. My words got away from me. She said you had helped an elf, that you became close, that is all.  I don't know why I said that." His whole face had to be red by now, he certainly felt as though his heart would explode.

     "Is that all she said?"

     Avos calmed his mind and thought for a moment about his aunt's exact words.

     "No, that's not all. She said he was the Warden of all Humankind.  That he was some sort of spy sent by the elves to watch me, or us... and that we were going to save the world."

     Elise sighed a heavy breath. She tilted her head back and looked up to the ceiling as if gathering her thoughts.

     "Yes, yes, it's true. Though I wouldn't label him a spy, though what do I know! I know as much about him as you do, Avos. But this I know for sure;  we can trust him. He means us no harm. That I know in my heart. Do you trust me, Avos?" Elise asked as she put a hand on his arm.

"You know I do."

"Good, then it's settled. Let's not think about Faeron again, at least until he returns."

"So he will return then? This Faeron?"

"I believe so. In one way or another, he will be back." She grabbed both his hands back in hers. "And I hope you get to meet him. But for now, let's get this trip over with. Someone is bloody well waiting to be rescued!"

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