Private Tales Remembering What Might Have Been

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Ánië Táralóm

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The evening came with what seemed to her to be an unusual chill. But she admitted to herself that this could very well be normal, and so did her best to silence any uncertainty that dwelt within. Though she'd come to remember her name, and a few faces without their own, there was much that still eluded her. But, despite her best efforts to reassure herself, it proved difficult. No matter how hard she tried to rationalize the things she was feeling, she could not overcome a looming fear - that something... someone, had drawn near. Whispers in the dark still plagued her each night, but this felt more real. It was hard for her to trust anything, and it seemed she could not truly trust even herself. But what she did trust was that whatever this was felt familiar, and so far in her experience, familiarity was unsafe.

After a time, the crackle of the fire reminded her of where she was: a small campsite assembled for the evening, placed next to the ruins of some kind of stone structure, set beside a gently running stream. She glanced around, looking to the mare that chomped passively on some grass that sprung up from around a weathered stump. Affection shone across her features before she leaned more comfortably back against the large tree she sat against. She lifted her hand, and some unseen force lifted a large hunk of wood up from the ground, and gently placed it atop the fire. A flick of her finger caused the flames to shine brightly, and the fresh wood was thoroughly caught by the fire. Then, she pulled her cloak tighter around herself, and pulled her hood lower.

She was not very fond of the night. The first memories she could recall were of her waking in the dark, surrounded by the corpses of terrible monsters, and of running away for fear more would come. In moving shadows she saw those horrid beasts, and in her waking sleep they whispered to her, and since she had awoken that night she could not find rest from them. Only for a short time, in Fal'Addas did she find reprieve, but even then and there it had been short lived.

That was why she was here, alone, traveling east. Back to where she had come from, back to those twisted, cursed trees.

She had to know the truth.

She had to know who she was.


 

Ilona Xy'Mari

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- Four Months Ago -​

Ilona Ky’Mari stood in the center of the Conclave chambers with the counselors arranged around her with extremely serious expressions on their face.

“Ilona, we know you are friends with Ánië Táralóm and that you two have worked closely together for years. We want you to find her and bring her home,” Counselor Philanel said.

They were not stupid, they knew she was alive even though she had become absent from the collective. Ilona had feared this day would come but she could do nothing but nod at her orders. She had no choice but to find Ánië and bring her back to to the Conclave.

- Present Day -
Usually Ilona would be ashamed that it took four months for her to track someone down but not in this case. She had done everything in her power to thwart the efforts of the curse during these months yet she had failed. The curse, per usual, had won. So here she stood in the woods watching the only woman she had ever loved wayward counselor.

Over the past few days, she had come to the realization that Ánië had no memories. All the devious thoughts of how she could get her friend to trust her and come with her flowed through her mind. She could have easily told Ánië how close they really were come up with a plausible story of friendship but it had been commented before that the two elves could be sisters.

That is what she would go with. The curse approved.

Ilona slowly stepped into the fire light from the darkness of the trees with her hands up in a show of being unarmed. She was not unarmed, of course, but Ánië did not need to know that.

“Ánië,” Ilona said softly as a warm, loving cunning smile formed on her perfect lips. “Oh Ánië, I have been looking for you for months!”


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Ánië Táralóm

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As the dark fell over the forest, the light of the fire became even more a comfort. Her eyes lost themselves in the flickering dance of orange, yellow, and white, and she thought on the things she did not know. She wondered who she'd shared such a quiet moment with in her past. She wondered if she'd ever done that at all. It was usually in these moments of quiet contemplation when she would begin to feel most alone, and this time was no different. She mourned the things she could not remember, for at least if she could recall them, then those memories could keep her company.

Like this, she had nothing.

Her eyes turned up, and she looked to the light of the moons overhead.


“Ánië,”


A sharp breath. Her heart, and all of time, stood still.

“Oh Ánië, I have been looking for you for months!”

She'd become so lost in her own thoughts, she never for a second detected any trace of someone approaching so close. And yet here someone was, only meters away. Slowly, her eyes drifted down from the sky to see the one who called to her. When her eyes were first upon Ilona she felt a surge of anxiety, and this was quick to bring her to her feet. A moment passed, and Ánië studied the woman before her, cast in only so luminous light from the fire. There was an air of uncertainty about her, but there was that familiarity - only this did not seem malevolent.

The tension in her body eased, "You... you know my name?"


 

Ilona Xy'Mari

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Ilona saw the moment that Ánië seemed to realize that she was not a threat and she relaxed. Everything in her wanted to run and hug the elf but she couldn’t…not yet at least. She had to play a part and get this new Ánië to trust her.

"You... you know my name?"

Ilona nodded and took a couple tentative steps forward. Ilona had gotten used to this strange possession that controlled her thoughts and movements. She was a passenger in her own body for the most part.

“Of course, I do. I am your sister, Ilona.” The lie tasted bitter coming from her mouth. This was more painful than any other lie because she knew it would do the job to get Ánië to come with her.

“We have been so worried about you. We lost you within the collective and we feared you were dead but I knew you weren’t. I just knew,” Ilona took another small step forward. She didn’t want to scare Ánië away but she also needed to get close to the woman.


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Ánië Táralóm

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"My... sister...?"

The rush of emotion nearly knocked Ánië right back down into her seat. A sister? She could hardly believe her ears, hardly believe her eyes. She even blinked and rubbed her eyes to ensure she wasn't seeing some illusion, or that she had unwittingly passed into someplace between awake and her dream state. And sure enough, it seemed what she was seeing was real.

"Ilona..." she echoed. Her name even felt familiar on her lips, "I... I can hardly believe..."

Her hand reached to her head, and as Ilona approached Ánië took a few uneasy steps away. Her body language screamed distress, and though she winced in obvious discomfort, she did her best to compose herself. It was as though there were memories that threatened to return, paining her mind, but she held them at bay. This was no time for another episode.

"Wait,"
she said, reaching her palm out at Ilona - more a demand than a request. She struggled a bit for a moment, but then quickly collected herself, saying, "what is going on... where, what is happening? Collective... what are you talking about?"


 

Ilona Xy'Mari

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Fuck, Ilona thought with a slight grimace. Ánië had truly forgotten everything. She knew that she had lost memories from watching her but she didn’t think she had lost everything.

“Oh, Ánië,” she said sadly and shook her head. “We were hoping you could tell us what happened to you but it seems that we will not be so lucky.”

Ilona did not take anymore steps forward but she did, finally, lower her arms and clasped her hands together in front of her. She studied the face of the beautiful woman who looked truly frightened and uneasy. Ilona needed to hold her.

“Do you remember anything?” She asked softly as the curse roiled inside her head, her thoughts, her memories. She tucked the important ones about Ánië and herself into what she liked to call her lockbox. The spot where the curse had not penetrated.


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Ánië Táralóm

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Ánië took in a deep breath. She again became more relaxed, content that her new acquaintance, and apparent sister, stayed her ground. She dropped her hand, and she watched carefully as Ilona's were clasped neatly together before her.

She breathed another long breath, and replied with a broken voice, quieted to almost a whisper "I don't remember you... I don't remember anything..."


 

Ilona Xy'Mari

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"I don't remember you... I don't remember anything..."

Ilona's heart shattered into a million pieces.

Ilona nodded sadly and slowly sat down where she had been standing. She was hoping that sitting would help them start to get more comfortable around each other again. She motioned for Ánië to join her in sitting if she wanted to. It would be up to the councilor on how close she decided to get to Ilona.

"I cannot believe you have forgotten everything," Ilona said as she watched her sister. "So many memories together and they are lost to you. It is a cruel joke indeed. I remember when we were younger and started our training. We didn't understand why we had to train so young so we tried to run away but we didn't get very far because we got hungry!"

Ilona's laugh was sweet and melodic as she did, indeed, remember this true memory from their childhood. Ilona and Ánië were not actual sisters but they had played together as children before Ilona was chosen for training.

It was many years later that the two of them came back into each others lives.

As partners.

As tracker and torturer.

As best friends.

As lovers.

"We just need to get you home, Ánië. You have been gone for six months and your memories are gone, it is awful. The healers need to see you as soon as possible..." Her words trailed off and she gave Ánië a half smile.


Ánië Táralóm
 

Ánië Táralóm

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She felt her own twinge of pain in seeing Ilona's reaction to her statement. The sadness in her demeanour was not hard to catch, and empathic as she was, Ánië's mourned upon realizing how those words must have sounded: to hear one's own sister declare no recollection of them. Her hand clasped gently against her heart, and when beckoned to she reclaimed the spot where she had sat before, and listened quietly as Ilona shared her lament, and her fond memory of times past.

And then she laughed.

Something about that sound both warmed and pulled at her heart in ways she did not know, and her hand grasped ever so slighty more at the fabric of her cloak.

Her eyes closed and her head bowed lower, and she allowed what translated into a few images return to her. It was a gentle recollection, unlike so many before. She remembered sitting along the riverside as a child, dipping her feet in the water, and seeing the set of little toes belonging to the one sat beside her. She remembered feeling warmth in their presence.

She gave her head the gentlest of shakes, and let out a gentle hum.

"I... remember..." she said, lifting her eyes with a smile.

Her gaze remained on her sister for a moment, until almost lazily turning into the fire as she said, "six months? It feels like its been a lifetime..."


 

Ilona Xy'Mari

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Ánië's smile brought the flood of happiness that came from someone's close friend. That smile she had missed so much. She was afraid she would never see Ánië again. Secretly she had hoped that she wouldn't find the councilor.

"You do?" Ilona asked softly. She was proud of herself for picking an actual memory of them to start with. The curse was proud too. She was doing so well. The wicked warm darkness that suckered her kind in spread through her body as the curse gladly did its job. She hated that she loved it. She hated it even more now that she had found Ánië.

"Yes, six months, Ánië," she answered. "It does feel like it had been a lifetime. These last four months since I was sent out to bring you home safely have been long and terrible. I have missed you so much," Ilona smiled again. There was no need to lie about that.

"Do you know what happened to your memory? What happened to you at all?" She probed.


Ánië Táralóm
 

Ánië Táralóm

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Ánië's feelings were quite mixed. She'd only just been getting used to being alone, and now to have someone who actually knew her come and find her was almost surreal. And maybe it was that she longed so deeply to know her kind again, but she was quick to lower her guard and accept all that Ilona told her. And so, without hesitation she shared with her sister everything she'd experienced since she lost her memory.

She told her of waking rounded by a number of dead monsters, and she described them in detail and in such a way it was clear that the creatures terrified her. She told of the strange beings, who she believed were Fae, that had helped her shortly after she awoke. They mended wounds, telling her it had been obvious she'd been in a fight. They tended to her for a time and helped her on her way. Then she journeyed to Fal'Addas, and underwent an only somewhat beneficial quest to regain her memory there.

"I left there a few months now. I have set out alone. I... feel it's safer that way, there is... there are things... they're after me I think. I hear whispers, sometimes I see things..."


 
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Ilona Xy'Mari

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Ilona listened in rapt attention that did not need to be faked. She and Ánië were not longer connected via the collective so this was all new to her. It was a very strange feeling especially when the two of them had been so seamless together. Sometimes they could go a full day without saying actual words because they were just unnecessary.

Honestly, the story seemed so unbelievable and it did seem like something that would have taken at least a year. Ilona was correct about her timeline though. She knew the day that Ánië was lost to collective. She would never forget the feeling of loss that filled her. She could only cling to the fact that she knew Ánië was still alive.

Ilona leaned forward unconsciously, "tell me about the whispers and what you see, Ánië."


Ánië Táralóm
 

Ánië Táralóm

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As though a sudden chill crept over her, she pulled again at her cloak to bind it tighter around her. She closed her eyes as she dwelt on them, and drew in a long breath. She listened to them in her memory, trying to find words or make some sense of it all. But there were too many voices, it was too incoherent... but there was one voice...

"I hear it..." she whispered, "a dark an terrible thing - it speaks from the shadows, it whispers on my footsteps. There is no where sacred, no light bright enough..." her eyes split open just enough to show the pain that was too carried in her voice, "red eyes, watching in the night..." She held her gaze, until she shifted uneasily in her seat and cast her eyes down, "I must sound... you must think I'm crazy..."

She let out a quiet laugh, and then idly she looked to the fire again. As before, she lifted her hand, and another hunk of wood was gently added, and the flick of her finger set the new wood alight with the rest.

She turned back to Ilona with hope in her eyes, and said, "you are my sister! You can take me home, and then we can make sense of all this... right?"

Ánië's attention was idly cast to where her horse should have been. But, she was gone, without a trace. This unnerved her, and caused her to once again rise from her seat. Her mind raced, and her heart pounded. And again, even then, even now, those whispers called to her. Her hand reached to her head, and she winced as the voices started up, quietly, and over each of them one in particular... still difficult to understand but more audible than the rest... and it reached to her with more clarity now, and she heard her name called. And then, like so many times before... she collapsed.


 

Ilona Xy'Mari

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This whole thing was crazy sounding but Ilona was not going to tell that to her friend. She decided to simply answer the question about taking her home instead.

"Yes...of course..." Her words were slow as she watched Ánië stand back up and look around frantically.

Ilona got to her feet and looked around. There was no one around there. It was silent except for the usual night time forest sounds. Ánië seemed to be hearing something though. Perhaps it was the voices that she had just spoken about.

Ilona narrowed her eyes and took a few steps closer to Ánië. She was thinking that maybe if she was able to touch her, it would bring her back to this world. She did not get a chance though because all of a sudden, Ánië collapsed. Ilona moved quickly to catch the woman in her arms. She was knocked the fuck out.

She contemplated her options as she slowly lowered Ánië to the ground. She could put her on the horse and go except that would be difficult with a passed out rider.

In the end, Ilona ended up sitting on the ground and adjusting Ánië so her head was resting on Ilona's thigh.


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Ánië Táralóm

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This time, like every time before, was different. This time the memories flew by, but there was greater clarity. She could see far more than she was able to before, and many of those memories centered around the very person who was with her now. Ilona. But these were not the only memories that returned, and many other things began to unfold - and all of this over the span of only a couple short hours as she turbulently rested under this unwanted sleep. But there did come a time, a short while before she woke, where she did indeed seem to truly rest.

And then, deep in the night, as the fire's light began to dwindle, her eyes crept open.

"Do you remember," she said, the remnants of rest silencing her voice, "dancing with our swords in the meadow... we were rehearsing for the Festival of... a festival. It was foggy that morning..." she blinked the sleep from her eyes, "...and, by the waterfall. I don't think I've seen so many fawns ever since..."


 

Ilona Xy'Mari

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Ilona had laid down at some point and moved Ánië so she was now using her stomach as a pillow. The two of them looked like half of an uppercase H in this position but it had allowed Ilona to rest her eyes and her mind for a little bit as well.

Her eyes opened at the sound of Ánië's voice.

"Do you remember,"

Ilona peered down to her stomach where the woman's head still rested. Did Ánië remember something? It both terrified and excited her. What would she remember? Would it ruin her scheme so soon?

"dancing with our swords in the meadow... we were rehearsing for the Festival of... a festival. It was foggy that morning... and, by the waterfall. I don't think I've seen so many fawns ever since..."

"The Festival of Swords," Ilona finished the name for Ánië.

The aptly named Festival of Swords was a festival that was thrown for the Swords to honor the First Sword as well as every member and their accomplishments for the year. It was a great festival full of dancing and light and fun. It was a great festival that had not happened in some time now. Ilona missed their festivals.

Her mind was snagged from her happy memories in order to continue torturing speaking with Ánië. Her hands rested under her head as she looked up at the night sky and smiled.

"I am not sure that I have seen that many ever again either," her voice was wistful as she absently brought one hand down to stroke the white hair of Ánië.

"What else did you remember?"
She asked still playing with the soft hair that was spread over her abdomen.


Ánië Táralóm
 

Ánië Táralóm

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Her sister's touch surprised her at first, mostly however, in how utterly comforting it actually was, as though it had been something she'd longed since even before her memories were taken from her.

"What else did you remember?"

"I remember your footing was always a little better," she replied, smiling.

For a time, she remained there quietly, selfishly enjoying the affection Ilona offered her. The only deviation she made from this was the passive lifting of her hand, adding fuel to the fire. And then she sighed a contented sigh. It had been so long since she had felt any kind of comfort that she was all too ready to give in to what was offered. And why would she not?

"I can't believe you found me... my own sister. I can't believe I have a sister."

Even as she rested there, more memories made themselves more available. Slowly, as it had been each time she regained memory, she began to remember more about who she was. She remembered she was... a leader. Someone others looked to. She also remembered she was a part of something... a part of many. But still, even among these memories, the darkness lingered.

"Is everything... still like it was back then?"



 

Ilona Xy'Mari

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Ilona chuckled. She was the more steady of them which is probably why she was the sneak and Ánië was the politician. There were less ways to hurt yourself when you sat in a fancy chair all the time.

All the Sword wanted to do was tell Ánië the truth but, of course, the words alluded her. The curse keeping a firm grasp on her wishes. It was a cruel joke to be yourself but have something else control you. She would admit that most of the time (when it didn’t have to do with Ánië) she didn’t mind the control or the darkness or the terrible things she did. She just hated lying to her friend.

“Yes,” Ilona lied with a soft smile on her face. “Once we get home, we will go out to the waterfall and look for fawns for old times sake,” her fingers twirled a few strands of Ánië’s hair as she spoke.

“Ánië, when did the weird things start happening to you?”


Ánië Táralóm
 

Ánië Táralóm

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Ánië's thoughts had been of darkness for so long now, she wanted so badly to know that her home wasn't those dark woods she saw in her dreams. Remembering now how it was in her youth, she wanted so badly to believe it was still that way. That the home she would return to was still in that misty meadow of colour and light. So when Ilona said it was so, she believed her, and allowed her soul to feel warmed.


"...we will go out to the waterfall and look for fawns for old times sake,”

"I'd like that."

She didn't respond to her question right away. She turned her head some, looking down to the fire, and then finally said, "it all started as soon as I awoke, alone and amidst trees I did not know..." Without looking, her hand instinctively reached up to brush against Ilona's as her finger twirled in her hair.

"Sister... do you know what I speak of? Do you know what haunts me?"


 

Ilona Xy'Mari

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As soon as Ánië's fingers grazed her own, she bit her bottom lip to keep from crying. The simple touch brought such happiness and peace such reassurance that her rouse was working. Ánië was letting down her guard even as Ilona yelled silently from her mental prison to run! Those words would never be said out loud though. The curse kept a tight hold on her and her tongue.

Ilona did not know what she spoke of. At least not in the exact sense that Ánië spoke of. Ilona was aware that is was definitely part of the curse trying to get her back into its clutches but she still did not understand how Ánië had gotten free in the first place. That concerned her as well.

"I have no idea what it is and that concerns me greatly. I do not like the idea of something being after you," she paused and closed her eyes before continuing. "There are healers at home that will be able to look you over and hopefully have answers."

"Do you have a horse?"
Ilona asked simply. She did not remember seeing or hearing one but it would be insane to be on foot out here.


Ánië Táralóm
 

Ánië Táralóm

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"Do you have a horse?"

There was a crashing realization that came with that question. Ánië froze, remembering that when she'd looked to her trusted mare, she had vanished. And Ánië had no idea what could have caused this to happen. Surely she hadn't just ran off? Certainly, then, it was likely that something had driven her away - or worse. Also certain was that by now Ilona was likely pondering her sudden silence, and stillness.

"No," she blurted, and then slowly sat up, "I did, but when I looked earlier she was gone, and then..."

Her voice trailed off, but not for her to descend into some dour state of mind. Not like she would have just hours earlier. No, now something else took hold - forgotten habits, reinstilled. She listened. Though there were some of her kind whose hearing was perhaps sharper, she like any Aeraesarian had a keen ear. Remembering that her steed was missing prompted her to assess, regardless of how late as it was after the fact. Trained eyes looked into the night, seeing light and dark greys and silver instead of blackness, seeing shapes without any hinderence of night - for a span.

Yet neither her eyes, nor her ears, could find anything amiss. No hesitant steps, no hushed breath.

Less of her anxious self remained, but she was far from herself still. Frustration washed over her, upset with her embarassing oversight. How could she have forgotten that?

"We should leave."


 

Ilona Xy'Mari

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Ilona stiffened with Ánië for the simple fact that she had no idea what caused her friend to stiffen in the first place. Her question about a horse? That would only cause a strange reaction if...

"I did, but when I looked earlier she was gone, and then..."

If that...the horse was here and now it was not. Ilona knew why too. It was definitely her fault. She was not going to admit that though. No way, no how.

Ilona sat up once there was no longer a person laying on her and she looked at Ánië with genuine concern in her eyes. Ilona knew that there was no one around but she let Ánië have her moments of silence to come to the conclusion on her own.

Ilona reached out to place her right hand on Ánië's shoulder and squeeze gently. "Do you want to leave tonight? Or wait until light?"


Ánië Táralóm
 

Ánië Táralóm

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She could not place it, but as the moments crept on she could feel that familiar darkness. It enveloped around them. Something was near - though she would never have considered the truth of where it radiated from. Even if she were to suspect it for a moment, that suspicion would be cast aside as impossible. She could never imagine that this person, even considering from her own perspective she'd only met hours ago, could be the source. The darkness she felt was far too blatant in its disdain for her. Ilona had proven to be anything but malevolent, even comforting her in the throws of... whatever it was that was happening to her.

And again, the gently squeeze of her hand on Anie's shoulder, yet more comfort. She reached her own hand up and grasped Ilona's tightly, saying, "no. We should leave now... whatever is following me is close, I can feel it."


 

Ilona Xy'Mari

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Ilona wanted to hold onto Ánië's hand and never let go.

"Of course, gather your things and we can put it in my horse's saddlebags. She is sweet," and possessed like me.

Ilona finally grudgingly removed her hand from Ánië's shoulder and stood. She gave a tight lipped worried smile at her fellow elf and then disappeared into the darkness of the trees to fetch Achlys. She returned with her midnight black mare and led the horse to the fire to they could pack and mount with some light.

The Sword did not need the light but Ánië would. One of the magical abilities that Ilona held was the ability to see in the darkness. It had always served her well and even more so in the recent years.

"I am ready when you are," Ilona told Ánië as she stood by the dark horse who looked extremely spooky.


Ánië Táralóm
 

Ánië Táralóm

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Ánië did not have much to gather. There were a few items, none of which seemed to be of any importance other than sentimental: an engraved stone, some small trinkets. She gathered them into a particularly elven satchel, one she'd acquired in Fal'Addas. Also all the clothing she wore now had come from there. And though these threads were woven with great skill, they were far different than what Ilona wore - hers was an example of regal elegance, though it was faded. Older. Ánië's cloth shared in this elegance, but it was far more verdant, albeit mostly hidden away beneath her cloak. The two seemed a harmonious contrast, like the stone and the tree.

With her things gathered she approached, turning her eyes away from the fire to look toward her sister. And she saw her there, awaiting her next to the great shadow that was her steed. Ánië's pace slowed some as she looked upon them. An inkling of doubt welled in her heart, but she couldn't allow it to grow. She wouldn't. She could no longer bear this burden to be apart from her people, who she'd learned by this time were her last hope to fully recover from this plight she now suffered from.

Determined, she came near saying, "let's get going."


 
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