Blessings Of A Curse - 2012 USA Edition - chunk 03 by Wayne Edward Clarke

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SUMMARY: Part 3

The Council Hall of the High People had long ago been a tunnel between First Valley, where Yazadril and his family lived, and Kemsah Valley, the second of the Nine Valleys. Over time the tunnel had been expanded into a great hall, a hemispherical hollow in the bedrock two hundred and twenty feet across and a hundred feet high, it's floor and the dome that formed the walls and ceiling polished to a smooth light-gray shine, brightened by skylights and glow-spheres.

Today a few hundred elves were within, most gathered into small groups scattered around the vast floor-space, talking quietly among themselves or softly weeping. A few were standing at one of the two gleaming white marble open caskets that had been placed twenty feet apart near the center of the hall, viewing the deceased and paying their respects.

Yazadril and Nemia were offered many subdued greetings and condolences as they slowly crossed the vast floor to Dalia's casket. Their relatives and Dalia's closest friends were gathered around it, a few of them crying softly, all with tear-tracked cheeks.

Dalia's body had been expertly prepared, and at first glance she looked like she was merely sleeping, clad in a white silk robe, her blonde hair softly flowing over a white satin pillow. It was difficult to believe that this was the same flesh that had lain so twisted and broken on the forest floor beneath her window on the previous day's afternoon.

Nemia would have collapsed at the sight if Yazadril had not supported her, and they were again overcome with weeping.

Nemia drew them away until they could no longer see Dalia, and they cried a few minutes more. Silently, they prayed that Dalia's spirit had found peace, though they knew that the missing gods would never answer.

Then they made their way to Bezedil's casket, which was loosely surrounded by forest elves of The People of Life. Those made way for them, and as they drew within sight of Bezedil's body, they saw that Alilia sat beside it on an ornate wooden chair, her hands folded in her lap.

"Alilia," Yazadril said, then choked on the lump in his throat. He cleared it a bit, then tried again. "Alilia, we are deeply sorry for your loss."

"As I am for yours, Yazadril, Nemia." Alilia calmly told them. Her face was a rigid mask of self-control, though tears still slowly trickled down her face. "And I must apologize for my behavior yesterday. My treatment of you during Bezedil's Reading was... atrocious, Yazadril, as was my threat to your life, Nemia."

"We do forgive you that, Alilia, as it was quite understandable under the circumstances." Nemia softly said.

"Thank you." Alilia nodded, never looking away from Bezedil's face.

There was a strained silence for a moment.

"I have lived four thousand, eight hundred and fifty-six years." Alilia quietly stated. "And during that time, Bezedil was the only child I have ever borne. I am not very fertile. I will probably never have another."

"I... I did not know that." Nemia stammered.

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