Later, after dinner was finished and all the plates and utensils were cleaned and put away, KeLarion suggested the family gather in the large living room on the main floor, to play a game of strustus, an old strategy game dating from pre-elf days on Rimnor played with colored slats and a slotted board. The object was to outmaneuver one's opponents and reach a designated spot before the others reached theirs.
The suggestion met with universal agreement, strustus a family favorite, until it came to Shawn. The powerful human slowly shook his head 'no' as he handed his mother the cloth he was using to dry dishes.
<<With the Trials only seven days away, I have to go and train,>> he curtly informed them and turned to walk out of the kitchen, obviously intent on going to KeLarion's private training area he had set up in one of the larger rooms on the main floor, at the other end of the building.
Sighing, KeLarion watched with obvious concern as his son disappeared down a corridor, Shellan catching sight of the worried look. This was a side of her husband that no other elf had witnessed. His colleagues, friends and associates knew the lean, whipcord strong Sylvasin as a doughty and grim warrior, unrelenting in the face of an enemy.
None had seen him like this: a loving husband and father, one that was very much concerned with the well being of his children, filled with joy at his responsibilities as a father and an elf that loved living life, not taking it. It was that knowledge alone that had seen her through many a sleepless night as KeLarion served his country, king and clan behind enemy lines as a ranger and deep operative.
<<Don't worry, dear heart,>> she murmured softly, stepping close to her husband to gently take his hand and kiss him on the cheek. <<Shawn will be all right. He just has to work out a few things in his mind first.>>
KeLarion sighed before he half turned to his wife and slid an arm around her. If only she knew the truth, he silently mused, having debated the entire walk from the palace to home whether to tell her of their visit by the Seer and his alarming confirmation of Shawn's true identity. Or how the Aeshin'laur council's plans of binding the sons of Ironstorm to the elves with the Elder Covenant now applied to their adopted son.
<<Aye, that he does,>> he quietly agreed, turning with Shellan to follow their three blood children into the living area at the front of their home. 'And even more than the Trials, once he learns who and what he truly is!' KeLarion silently added with no little grim foreboding.
If the object of their conversation was feeling any pressure from the Trials or his own impending fate, he wasn't showing it as he smoothly executed a ca'sae maneuver in slow motion, standing in the center of the large rectangular chamber KeLarion had converted into a practice area. Such an exercise, focusing on form and exactness, turned the deadly and lightning-fast elven martial art into something closer to a dance, a sinuous and continuous flow from one form to another that was beautiful to watch, like the uninterrupted flow of water from vessel to vessel. Hence it's name: Fala pon'Mare, the Water Dance.
While Shawn now favored the brutally effective dark elf ca'sae forms over those he learned from the Sovun'chul elves, the forms he originally learned as a youth were best suited to the Fala pon'Mare. Each fitted to the other in such a manner that the dance was easy, for one properly instructed in its execution. Stripped to the waist, his tanned skin beaded with perspiration, it was those forms that he now passed through, moving without flaw or pause from one to the next in a constant stream of concentration and effort, enough to make his body ache from the exertion.
With resistance and aggressive violence accompanying every forward step in his life, Shawn normally spent a great deal of time binding wounds and healing. So it was a welcome departure to be able to feel the strain of his efforts in his body as he worked, instead of the pain of his injuries. It reminded him that mortal flesh and blood could do more than simply make record of each insult and disrespect foisted upon him by a disdainful elvish people. And that slowed the isolation he felt building between him and his friends and family despite best efforts.
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Sons of Ironstorm - Book 2: Griffon's CallFantasy
Eleven years after the events in Elvenfast and Tal Morun, the world of Ramnor is caught in the grip of the Diaspora: a season of turmoil and chaos marking the beginning of the Ascendance, the last stage of the Norak Utterance, a prophecy detailing t...