The sun was bright, almost as if enhanced by the very forest before them. The Forest of Mirrors, wait, how do I know that? Images come flashing behind the solid white eyes, thoughts and knowledge lost, but now flooding back in too fast. Pain floods in as each new image flashes by, almost as if cutting his very mind. A scream comes from nearby in the camp, Arandyr must be seeing as well. “Elondyr, it hurts, make it stop, El, make it stop.” Tears stream down her face as Elondyr’s heart breaks yet again for his sister. “Gather our friends Aran. I will help you with a story, just like when you couldn’t sleep when we were little.” I remember when we were little…. Aran darts off and soon the friends we have held onto so dearly gather. Each confused as to why Aran is sobbing. All look at Elondyr, with a strained look, obviously feeling the same pain as his sister. He begins to speak.
“Once upon a time, a brother and a sister of noble Arveni birth, were brought before the Empress. The father, proud and dignified, hid the sorrow of the loss of his wife with the birth of his twin babies.”
Squee, “Oh, that’s so sad. Aran, did you know them?” Aran shakes her head, reeling and dizzy from images brought to mind by El’s words.
“Marked were the children, for twins are unheard of in the Arveni. One child held the soul the other held the mind. Heart and mind separated, yet still inseparable. They grew in height and grew in status among the Arveni. One, the boy, mastered all sorts of magic and logic, eventually seeing into the future farther than even the haruspex of the Empress. This awarded him great prestige and incited great jealousy. The girl twin made all sorts of friends and companions, unfortunately they were all imaginary. She learned to be one of the greatest of scouts, with the cunning of an animal. When she wished to be seen, no one could ignore her, but if she did not wish to be seen, no one would ever know she was there, save her brother. Somehow he always knew where she was and what she was doing. This aggravated her to no end.”
Vadim elbows Aran, “Almost sounds like you, Aran. This is a good story.” Aran nods, while her sobbing subsides to a small whimper. Tear-filled eyes look up to El, waiting for his next words.
“One day, the twins were called to the throne room of the Empress. She watched as they approached, eyes shifting from one twin to the other. Speaking in a godlike knowing voice she stated, ‘The twins have arrived. Welcome, I am glad to see you here, for I have not seen you anywhere else. You have the sight, so tell me what you see of you and me. My sight cannot seem to peer into your future.’ The boy with gave a knowing look, and the girl flashed irritation on her face. He always had that look, grrrr. The boy stepped forward, bowing deeply and saying, "My Empress, allow me these few words now, and many will follow. I shall tell you of many things to come and of many things hidden from your view. The Empress then questioned, ‘What would you tell the all knowing that they do not know?’ The boy, moving forward explains, “It is not for all ears to hear.” He bends over and whispers in her ear, as her eyes go wide. The Empress surprised by his words, ‘You would admit such a thing? On the chance that, what, I might spare you?’ The boy says, “Spend the rest of your day with my sister before you make your decision. After, I will accept anything you say.”
“El, what did he whisper? Why was she surprised? You’re leaving out parts of the story.” Aran quite aggravated has stopped crying altogether.
“This is what he said,‘One day my Empress, you will banish me.’”Shocked looks came all around the campfire.
“Oh, he’s screwed.”
“Looks like a good day to say goodbye.”
"The Empress agreed, and for a few hours, the girl and the Empress sat in silence. One watching the other who was lost in thought. The other watching just as intently while discussing her situation with one of her ‘friends’. Finally getting bored and annoyed at being watched, the girl looked up at the Empress asking, “Want to play?” The Empress, a bit shocked at the thought, much less the suggestion, looked quizzically down at the small girl Arveni. With a shrug of a fate she could not see nor understand, she agreed. ‘Let us see where this leads us.’ “Oh, you want to play follow the leader? Ok, I’ll go first….” The girl darted out of the great hall, the Empress surprisingly not far behind. The day wore on and by the end, the two had become of all things impossible, friends."
" Oh Oh OH, Aran, Aran, we play that don’t we?" as an excited Squee shakes Aran vigorously. “Follow the leader… yes, yes, we play that, but you cheat when you misty step, not fair I say, not fair.”
“Years went by, and the twins served the Empress with both all their hearts and minds. One calling focus and direction when needed; the other distraction and tenderness when needed. Until one day a darkness unlike any other came to the Arveni. Not a lack of light, only a lack of sight. None could see what was to come, except the boy who had already seen. The Haruspex deceived the Empress with their lack of sight and did as they saw fit, leading the Empress blindly. The boy seemingly lost his mind, seeing only one truth, that of the destruction of the Empire…Raving madly in the courts of the End of all things. The Haruspex declared the boy a traitor to the Empire and called for him to be slain. The Empress, with thoughts of his sister in mind, did not want to kill the boy, only perhaps banishment would be enough for….banishment? As she thought, her mind reeled back over the many years of the twin’s service to her, to that fateful first day and the whisper she had heard so clearly.
The Empress in a loud and commanding voice calls out over the Haruspex’s allegations “I hereby banish this boy from the Empire, all memory, knowledge of his past shall be wiped away.” As she spoke, the boy kept a crooked smile on his face and a knowing look in his eye. From the side of the throne his sister screamed ‘Noooooo, you can’t send him away. I won’t let you!’ With a flash of steel, a small streak of red ran down the Empress’s cheek. The girl had gone too far; she was tackled to the ground and held before the Empress. She looked up at her brother, that damned look was still on his face… ‘Aaarrrrgggggg dammit, he knew I would…’ After that the Empress simply said, ‘Send them both far away, never to return.’ Tears mixed with the blood on her cheek and it seemed to sting much more than she thought it would. But soon the twins would be forgotten."
“This is the end of that story.”
Squee spoke first, “But what happened to the twins? Where did they go? What did they do next?”
Aran, “Yes, Brother, you spoke as if you knew them. Who were they?” Tears filled her eyes as she spoke, as though she knew what he would answer.
“Dear Aran, we both knew them. Now you remember.” With a hug and tears, the pain of the images faded, only to be replaced by the pain of the loss they had endured. However, Elondyr did not frown at this. No, on his face was ‘that look.’ He knew something yet again.