Semalion was flying south with suitable long distance flight speed. Fast enough to actually get to places, but not so fast as to tire him out. His destination was relatively vague. He had heard rumors of trouble in some village in the south, but the rumors were not specific enough to give a precise destination, and only a general direction. He had elected to investigate in any case, because what the rumors told him, suggested that he’d be in for some searching anyway, when he found his destination. But he was a proud celestial, and as such it was his duty to investigate. Although that might be what he let other people assume, duty in fact had very little to do why he was looking into matters in some backwater elven village. The main reason he was doing it was boredom.
Semalion was a diplomatic attaché for the celestial ambassador in Rhi’a’non, the elven capital. The celestials had ambassadors in the capitols of all the major races, and in some cases even had special advisors for the respective emperors and kings of the different kingdoms that the other races had formed. Celestials were known as the major diplomats and peacekeepers for a reason. That said, for major tracts of time the primary ambassadors didn’t have all that many duties aside from building connections. Those connections were important when it came to the various power struggles and games the noble houses of various races played with each other, but they did leave some of the more junior attachés with little to do, since they were not involved. In fact the more junior the attaché, the more they were discouraged from meddling in the affairs of other races, in large part to avoid stepping on the toes of the major players. They were to learn by observing, not by doing.
As a result, it was not uncommon for various celestials that were on light duty to roam the other race’s nations solving various issues that came up. The helpfulness of these celestials was almost legendary. Many a village and town had been saved by their actions, and many a sick person had been cured by their skill in the magic element of light. Hence the public perception of duty. The public perception among the various races of the helpful and moral nature of the celestials was well earned. Very few people outside the celestials themselves knew that they had a vested interest in helping others, and it was a fairly self-interest driven.
The Protector Goddess of the Celestials had created the race herself. The race was originally created to be the servants of the gods, and the protectors of the other races. Thus the goddess wanted to instill in her children upright morality and goodness of heart, and wanted them to want to help the other races. But it is hard to control the minds of an entire race, so she decided to use incentives. The Celestials all had a magical aura around them. This aura could be used by them to strengthen their spells, protect them from attacks or make the individual stronger and faster similar to internal strength of Ki. It is this aura that could allow a celestial that looks like a small girl to break the kneecaps of a giant and use it as a punching bag. In other words, it allowed them to go beyond their physical bodies.
This in itself was not a rarity, as most races of this world had, to at least some degree magical bodies. A mighty dragon might be a ball of muscle, scales and death, but it is the magic that flows in its muscles that allows it to perform the feats that go far beyond its physical body. There are downsides of course, like what happens when that magic is drained away. What makes celestials unique is that their auras are dependent on the morality of their actions. Perform various good deeds, and your aura gets more powerful. Celestials tended to be on the brighter side of the moral scale anyway, so the incentive was very effective.
So it was boredom and self-interest that drove Semalion to fly the southern area of the elven continent, to find out what was troubling the area. He had been flying for two days now with little rest, so he was slowly getting tired. He was finally approaching the general area, so he was eager to finish this part of the affair, so he could get to the real issue. He was just considering finding a resting place. when he sensed a large gathering of light magic ahead of him.
‘This is odd. The magic seems to be focused almost 50 km ahead of me. For me to feel it all the way here means that it has to be a major spell with great power. The elves rarely have enough affinity in light magic to cast the high level spells, and even then the power required for me to feel it all the way here is huge. Something serious must be going on.’
Semalion adjusted his heading to fly towards the gathering mana, and picked up to go full speed. He suddenly saw a large pillar of golden light strike down in the forest.
‘Power of Heavens?! That’s an eight circle light spell! I know of only a handful of elves capable of casting that. What are they doing?’
The golden light only intensified and grew in size. Semalion was in shock. The amount of power required to cast a Power of Heavens that large was just too large. He was fairly sure that even he would not be able to replicate that, and he was a celestial with great light affinity. He was getting close to the impact point when last of the golden light faded. He already saw a crater on the ground as if from a meteor impact, when he suddenly heard a scream. The apparently female voice was almost animalistic in the sheer emotion conveyed. The voice told of sorrow. Sorrow and despair.
He tried to search for the source of the scream when he heard crying, and found a Moon Elf woman with dark hair cradling what looked like her small child. You could easily make the connection, with the child having the darkest black hair he’d ever seen on an elf. The woman was the child’s mother. The woman was obviously crying because of something that had happened to the child that whom now lay unmoving in her arms. He rapidly moved closer to the woman.
“Show her to me, quickly.” Semalion said reaching out with his hand towards the child. The woman was clearly incapable of hearing. Something was wrong here. Even for a shock over a child’s death, the woman was too distraught. He let his magical probing go inside the child, to try to see what was wrong. The child, obviously female, was in good condition on the outside, with no wounds. The inside was a mess. It was as if someone had forced a great amount of mana through her system, and the result was as expected. Elves, much like celestials and dragons were magical beings. Magic flowed through them even as a baby. They simply worked differently from non-magical beings. So having magic flow through an elven body was not in itself a problem. But the child was young. Obviously too young for the Awakening. Too young to even have Ki flow through her system. It was as if something had forced a lake’s worth of water through a small creek that usually only had a trickle. Obviously her pathways were damaged. He sensed the presence of something divine inside the child. Apparently the lucky child had a blessing of some god or goddess. Most likely the only thing that kept the child alive.
“How could this have happened?” Semalion asked, more musing to himself out loud rather than actually expecting an answer from the woman. He started casting his own magic to make sure the child would stay alive, repairing any damage that he could. He could not fix the child’s pathways properly, because that could only be done by her own power. Or something could reverse the damage like time magic, but that was most certainly beyond his abilities. The downside of being a magical being; when the magic inside you can’t flow properly, then the body won’t work properly either. ‘The poor child won’t walk for years to come, if ever. Such a shame too. She is a beautiful child, and will be confined to a bed her entire childhood. At least she is still alive for now.’
Semalion could see the life returning both into the child and into the mother’s eyes. Curious, how it happened so simultaneously. Maybe he could finally get some answers from the woman.
“Can you tell me what happened?” Semalion asked in a gentle voice.
“I was…here on a mission…from the guild. There was a…a Darkhunter.” The woman answered slowly, picking up speed and confidence the more she said.
“A Darkhunter? How could there be a Darkhunter in the Elven Continent?” This was almost as big a shock to Semalion, as the condition of the child’s body. Darkhunters were excessively dangerous, and most certainly not indigenous to the continent. Now he also understood the need for the large holy spell he saw earlier.
‘Could this ghost of a woman have been the one to cast that spell? Come to think of it, although she is completely spent now, I can sense that she would be considerably powerful at full strength. I don’t think even I could beat her.’
“I don’t know. I was only sent to investigate. But the monster was going for the village, and I didn’t have enough strength to stop it. That’s when Neleh offered to let me use hers.” The woman started sobbing again while hugging the child.
“Wait. The child offered her strength? But she hasn’t been through the Awakening. How could she have…” And then the pieces started coming together in his head. But the final piece was not something that he wanted to believe.
“You! Don’t tell me you bonded your own child?” He asked not really wanting to hear the answer.
“She asked if there was a way. And then she said she preferred that to me charging to my death against the monster.” The woman looked up at him defiantly.
“No, no, no, there’s a reason the bond is not used anymore. And especially not between a parent and a child! Do you have any idea what you’ve done? You have to seek help from a temple and hope your goddess deigns to sever the bond for you as gently as possible. Even then you two will be emotional wrecks!” (Semalion)
Now the woman’s near catatonic state earlier made sense. The bond bound the emotions of the two together like nothing else. It was a little known fact that the bond was almost exclusively used by adventurers who were also lovers. One of the downsides of the bond was that when one of the people in the bond died or was close to death, the other suffered an enormous emotional backlash, comparable to losing all senses at once. When one person in the bond died, the sorrow from the loss drove the other to suicide in nearly all the cases. Suicide either actively to get away from the pain and loss, or passively because the person would no longer eat or drink, and would just wither away. That’s why the bond was only used by lovers who were so committed to each other, that they were bound together for the rest of their lives anyway. ‘How could a mother doom her child to that fate?’
The woman looked at him still defiant. “I would rather we suffer any of the possible future consequences, than almost certainly be separated here. So would she.” The woman’s eyes showed that she would not change her mind on this matter.
‘Well at least the woman is capable of operating now. I need to report this whole mess to the ambassador as soon as possible. Regardless of what happens to these two, the presence of a Darkhunter here suggests something bigger is going on. And the woman clearly wasn’t in a state to lie to me.’
Semalion escorted the woman to the nearest village and instructed her on how to care for her child magically while she remained unconscious. The woman started crying again when he told her that the child would most likely not wake for months and might be bound to a bed for the rest of her life. The woman was still crying when he left to return to Rhi’a’non.
He was so deep in his thoughts that it took him a while to notice. His aura had grown in strength significantly. In fact, it had almost tripled in strength. He could probably form two extra pairs of wings when he returned to the capital. For celestials, the number of their wings signified their power and station, from the basic one pair of wings, to the six pairs of the Chosen of Alarae. ‘What’s going on? I only healed a child, and now it’s like the Goddess herself has personally rewarded me?’
First thing I noticed when I woke up, was that everything hurt. Not really badly, but a low throbbing pain. I also noticed the bond in my mind. I could feel mother’s presence, not too far from me and she was coming closer. Since I can sense her, she could probably sense me waking up. I wondered idly how long I had been unconscious. I remembered mother drawing strength from me to attack the monster, and then nothing. I was lying on a bed, and the roof above looked familiar. Home most likely.
“Neleh!” Mother yelled with joy in her voice, and practically dove in to hug me. The bond carried the feelings of joy, love and relief. If she had been that worried, then I probably slept a while. I could see my sisters over her shoulder, also running into the room. They looked relieved…and older. Quite a long sleep it seems.
“Water.” I managed with my broken voice. My throat had seen better days. My sisters looked shocked. ‘Oh right, I had chosen to delay my speaking, and only spoke to mother just before I went unconscious.’ I realized with a start.
“Delia, get your sister some water please.” (Asheara)
She took me up in her arms, and I noticed that I was a bit bigger too; by the way she was holding me. Little Elsaria looked ready to cry. She also looked like about 5-years old. Doing the quick math with her being two years older than me would land me somewhere close to three. Had I really slept for over a year?
Now all the girls were crying of relief. After I got some water to get my throat working again, I had to ask.
“Your third birthday was two weeks ago. You’ve slept for over a year.” Mother was crying too. Sorrow and guilt flowed through the bond. She was clearly blaming herself for what happened. I made sure nothing but love was flowing back to her when I answered.
“Not your fault. We decided together.” Mother broke down from my words. The amount of relief flowing through the bond was so large that I could’ve walked on it. If I was able to walk that is.
I could clearly tell, by body was in need of some fixing. And I would need to get to it if I intended to walk again before my next birthday. Good thing my mediocre and now busted Ki pathways didn’t affect the amount of Ki I had. I would need months of careful circulation and application of my Ki to repair the damage. I cursed in my mind that my body was that of a pretty normal child, now broken. That was what had caused the problem in the first place. I would really need to fix that once I had repaired the damage. I would only run into more trouble if I did not do something about this. I had an idea how to handle it, but it would be a problem to both to do that and repair the damage, while my mother was hovering over me, without revealing my memories of the previous life. How to explain a 3-year old girl that has slept for the last year and had Divinity level knowledge of Ki rotation? And from what I could feel from the bond, she would hover even more intensely than before the accident. I liked being close to her, but this could be a problem. Also the bond made it pretty impossible to outright lie to her.
“Mother, we need to talk. Alone.” I whispered to her. She looked at me with a raised eyebrow, but nodded.
“Girls. Mommy will need to check over Neleh, and you need to go back to lessons.” (Asheara)
My sisters grumbled a bit, but they were clearly happy to see me awake, so they gave in and went out of the room.
‘Now how do I dance around this best...’
“Mother, I have been having these dreams.” (Neleh)
“What kind of dreams, honey?” (Asheara)
“I have had dreams where I’m me, but not me at the same time. I know it’s me, but I’m all grown up and everything. It’s like they’re my memories, but it’s a grown up me in them.” All true, I have actually had dreams of my old life. Nothing really strange there, just careful wording.
“They’re not bad dream are they honey? You aren’t having nightmares, are you?” There was worry both in the bond, and in her voice.
“Well they’re not all happy memories, but I’ve already learned a lot of things from them. What I’ve seen also tells me I’m not really a normal child. And I never will be. I know things I should not. And I’m afraid.”
I carefully changed that I was learning from my memories instead of the dreams I mentioned first, while she still thought I was talking just about the dreams. Also everybody is afraid of something. In my case, I’m afraid something might happen to my family. That’s not what she heard though. I tried to fill the bond with some sadness. I really was kind of sad I’d never have normal childhood. Not with my memories anyway.
“Don’t worry, honey. You’ve always been my special girl. Now you’re just a little more special.” (Asheara)
Love again from the bond. I kind of felt bad that I couldn’t tell her the real truth. Not yet anyway.
“Since when have you had these dreams honey? I kind of suspected you understood everything that was said during the lessons meant for Delia and Selene.” (Asheara)
Now the bond showed a lot of curiosity. I also had to be a bit careful how to answer.
“I could understand things almost since the beginning. I could understand the maid talking that took me away.” (Neleh)
“Goddess damn it, Elluin! Now your daughter knows about you philandering too.” (Asheara)
‘Well that was angry and annoyed.’ Maybe it was time to lay it on a bit thick, so I could distract her.
“I don’t know what daddy was thinking though. Mother is much prettier than that maid. Philandering is bad.” Maybe a bit too thick. ‘Also sorry father for throwing you under the avalanche. The angrier mother is at you, the less she’ll focus on me.’
“Don’t worry about it honey. I’ll explain why a bit later. All I need is my baby girls. And now mommy will go and kill daddy a bit.”
‘Yeah, sorry about that father.’