She ran through the dark dense forest as fear gripped her and she occasionally looked behind her. The limbs on the trees felt like hands that were reaching out to grab hold of her as they tangled in her hair and ripped at her cloak. She gave a startled gasp as another limb tangled in her hair and she fought to free herself from its grasp. Falling to the ground once she was free, she looked back the direction she had run. Were eyes staring at her in the forest or was her fear causing imaginings that did not exist? She listened intently to the sounds of the forest and wondered if they were still behind her, or had they given up and returned to the other captives. She could hear rustling sounds in the forest and afraid they still followed her; she jumped up and continued running blindly through the unknown forest. Suddenly a large, dark figure moved out from behind a large tree and took hold of her. She screamed as hands clasp hold of her shoulders then she fell unconscious in the strangers’ arms.

“Put us down Uncle Edraith!” Tuluon and Tiriad demanded.

Edraith laughed as his nephews squirmed in his arms trying to free themselves. “I will put you down in your bed,” he said gently.

“We do not want to go to bed,” the twins cried finally giving up the battle.

“Your parents left me to take care of you while they were gone, and I say it is bed time,” Edraith said as he gently set them on their bed.

“When will mother, father, and all the other elves return Uncle Edraith?” Tiriad asked as he and his brother got comfortable on their bed.

Edraith sighed and sat down on the bed next to the twins as sadness swept through him once again. “They will be home as soon as they find your Aunt Gelireth,” he said. Edraith knew the longer it took to find Gelireth, the chances of ever finding her diminished.

“Do you think they will find her?” Tuluon asked.

“I am sure they will Tuluon. Now both of you go to sleep,” Edraith said while standing up. “I will see both of you in the morning.”

“Goodnight Uncle Edraith,” they called out as he left the room. They waited a few minutes to give their uncle time to reach the main room then they climbed out of bed. They went to their doorway and stuck their heads around the corner to make sure he was truly gone then they headed down the hall in the opposite direction. When they reached the room they were looking for, they crawled into the room, up to the end of the bed, and poked their head over the edge. Mirwen was sitting on her bed with her arms wrapped around her legs as she stared out the window of her room. She looked up as the twins crawled onto the bed with her and sat down on their knees.

“What are you two doing?” she asked laughing softly.

“We could not sleep,” Tiriad said.

Laughing, Mirwen lay down on the bed and opened her arms. The twins crawled up the bed and lay down in her arms. “It would be easier to sleep if you would stay in bed,” she laughed. They snuggled up in her arms and before long were sound asleep.

Edraith walked outside into the community and watched as all the other elves went about their business preparing for the evening. Normally the community was happier and singing songs in the late evening, but everybody’s mood was subdued since Mirwen returned with news that their group was attacked, almost all of the guards killed, and Gelireth taken captive. Edraith was worried about his cousin Mirwen though. Since her return, she had been very quiet and mostly closed up in her room. She was saved by the cunning of the last guard left alive. He had been able to hide her in time, and now she felt responsible for Gelireths’ capture. Sighing heavily, Edraith turned to return to the house when a loud commotion was heard from the far side of the community.

“They have returned!” he heard called through the community. Edraith quickly changed his course and headed in the direction of the valley of horses. He watched as his family and the guards they had taken with them returned to the community. An ominous feeling settled on him as he watched the elves begin to go their separate directions. Edraith looked among the group but did not see his sister anywhere.

“Welcome home father,” Edraith said as he reached the group. “Where is Gelireth? I do not see her among you.” Edraith watched as his mother leaned against his father softly crying.

“I will let Tauron tell you of our journey son,” Thalion said sadly. “I need to get your mother home for now, she is exhausted.” Edraith watched as his parents walked to their home and it seemed to him as if a heavy weight was resting on their shoulders.

“Uncle Tauron, where is my sister?” he asked quietly.

“Where is Mirwen?” Tauron asked.

“She is at the house with the twins. Please tell me what you have learned,” Edraith asked anxiously.

“Let us go to the house then. I will need to speak with her also.” Edraith followed his family up to the house anxious to hear more, but he knew he would have to wait a short while longer. As they arrived at the house, everybody went back to Mirwens’ room where she was asleep with the twins.

“Melbenion you and Marithil take your sons home and put them to bed,” Tauron said. “Elwen and I will tell Mirwen and Edraith what happened.”

“Alright Uncle Tauron,” Melbenion answered. He and Marithil each gently picked up one of their sons and left the house.

Mirwen woke up when the twins were lifted out of her arms and seeing her father sitting next to her on the bed, she sat up to find out about Gelireth. “Mother, Father, I am pleased to see you home,” she said. “Did you find Gelireth?”

Elwen sat next to her daughter also as Tauron started explaining what they had found. “No Mirwen, we did not find her,” he said sadly. “We traveled to where the attack took place. From there we were able to follow the trail for about a week, but we ended up getting several days of bad rain and the trail was lost.”

“Father you had some of the best trackers with you, how could you lose her trail?” Mirwen asked through her tears.

“Even the best of trackers can lose a trail if it has been washed away,” he answered her.

Edraith could not believe what he was hearing. His sister was lost to them. How could that be? “Uncle is there no way to try to pick up the trail again?” he asked hopefully.

“That is why it has taken us so long to return home Edraith,” Tauron said. “We tried for days and days to find the trail. We even split up into small groups to continue looking, but we were unable to find any sign of her or the people who took her captive.”

“I refuse to just give up Uncle Tauron!” Edraith exclaimed.

Tauron took his nephew in his arms, but Edraith pushed away from him. He and his uncle had always been close, but right now, he did not feel like being coddled. His pain was almost unbearable. Gelireth was his youngest sister, and she had always been quiet and easy going. She could always end a fight between the brothers with such ease, and he adored her very much. Mirwen was in her mothers arms crying. The loss of Gelireth would be felt by every member of the community as he realized there was not an elf that had not been touched by her kindness in one way or another.

As she slowly woke up several things assailed her senses at once. She could hear a stream running close by, the sound of a fire crackling, and she realized she was covered with a warm blanket. As the memories of the recent events suddenly flooded her, she sat up afraid she would find herself a captive once again. She looked around at her surroundings and wondered where she was. She did not see anybody and she knew she was not a prisoner of the vile men who had captured her. Slowly she stood up and her aching body protested each movement. Wrapping her tattered cloak around her, she walked closer to the fire. She could see where somebody had slept on a pallet next to the fire, but when she looked around, she could not find anyone. She decided to walk to the stream to search for her unknown rescuer. As she walked through the trees and the stream came into view, she saw an elf walking toward her. He was tall with long dark hair. She realized he must have just finished a bath because his hair and chest still glistened with drops of water. She was startled as she realized he was not wearing a shirt, yet she could not keep her eyes from roaming over his well-muscled chest and arms. He looked up at her as he realized she was standing in the middle of the path back to the camp. She was startled by the intensity of his gray eyes, yet she continued to stare at him.

“Have you seen enough, or shall I remain here a little longer?” he asked sarcastically.

“What?” she asked startled out of her observations of him. “Oh I am sorry, I was just surprised, that is, I was just looking…” She took a deep breath trying to hide her embarrassment. Her blush deepened as she realized he was enjoying her discomfort and she said the first thing that came to mind, “Who are you?”

She watched as the elf arched an eyebrow at her and crossed his arms over his chest. “I tell you what. Go take a bath in the stream back there, and then we will sit down and talk,” he said as he started to walk by her.

“Wait you will not tell me your name?” she asked in surprise.

Turning back to her, he lifted a few locks of her golden blonde hair. “In case you have not noticed my inquisitive friend,” he said pulling some twigs out of her hair, “You are filthy. Your hair is a mess, your face is covered in dirt, and well simply put you need a bath.”

She removed her hair from his hand and headed in the direction of the stream. She knew he was right and she would most definitely enjoying bathing, but it was very rude of him to point that out so boldly. She looked over her shoulder to make sure he had left. Once she was sure he was not near, she removed her tattered cloak and her over shirt. She tossed her shirt into the stream to be cleaned also, and then took a moment to look around. The stream was feed by a small waterfall and the area was surrounded by large cliffs with several other waterfalls falling into various places of the stream then it led out of the valley beyond sight. She was about to finish undressing when a voice behind her startled her.

“I brought you one of my shirts…” She turned to see him throw the items in his hands onto the ground. She was suddenly afraid of the angry glare in his eyes as he reached out, took her by the shoulders, and turned her around again so he could see her back and shoulders. “Who did this to you?” he asked in a deep growl.

She knew he was talking about the bruises on her arms, back, and shoulders. “The men who captured me,” she said quietly pulling free from his hold.

“I should have killed them when I had the chance in the forest yesterday,” he said angrily.

“You saw them?” she asked. “They were still chasing me?”

“Yes, when I grabbed you there was one that was far behind you. I took you into one of the trees and hid you there with me until they left the forest,” he said.

“You do not think they will come back do you?” she asked suddenly frightened.

He cupped her face in his hand and rubbed his thumb over her check, “No I do not think they will be back,” he said laughing softly as he remember how he made sure they left the forest in a hurry. He stared in her eyes for a few moments then quickly removing his hand; he turned back to the items he had dropped on the ground. “I brought you one of my shirts and some soap made from several plants around here,” he said as he picked up the items and handed them to her.

“Thank you,” she said taking them. “My name is Gelireth,” she said as he started to walk away.

He stopped for a moment and looked over his shoulder back at her, “It is nice to meet you Gelireth. My name is Bregion.” He grinned at her, and then left her to take her bath.

Gelireth watched as he walked up the path, and then setting the items down next to the stream, she finished undressing and climbed into the pool of water. She swam out to the middle of the pool and simply enjoyed the feel of the cool water against her bruised body. She dunked herself under the water and just let the water refresh her. She finally decided it was time to get the soap that Bregion had brought her and finish up. She grabbed the soap and climbed on the rock under the waterfall. Once she was finished bathing, she quickly put on the shirt Bregion had brought her, scrubbed her dirty clothes, and then returned to the camp. She laid her clothes out near the fire and then sat down on the blankets near the fire. She looked at what was left of her cloak and decided it was pathetic looking. Between the attack, being dragged off to who knew where, and then running through the forest with all of the trees snagging at it, her cloak was a tattered mess.

She heard Bregion laughing softly as she examined her tattered cloak. “I think that cloak has had it,” he said.

“It is rather worn out,” she said smiling at him and laying the cloak on the ground.

“So do you want to tell me how you ended up out here Gelireth?” he asked.

“It is a long story, but if you have the time to listen I do not mind telling you,” she said as she wrapped her arms around her legs and rested her chin on her knees.

Bregion watched her and debated on how much he really wanted to know about this beautiful she-elf. His life had been simple and he had been a loner for many years. Now here was this beautiful she-elf wrecking havoc on his senses and he really did not need that, yet he found himself saying, “I have plenty of time and would like to hear your tale.” He could have kicked himself when he saw her eyes light up and smile at him.

“It started with just a simple trip that my cousin and I were going on,” Gelireth began. “Mirwen and I have made several friends with a nearby homestead community. Some of the women there had admired some of our material and we were taking some to them. We usually trade with them for some different items, but these we were taking as a gift for the women who had been really kind to us on our last visit.”

“You spend time with the race of men?” Bregion asked surprised.

“Of course we do, not all of them are bad you know. In fact, some are very nice. We do not go there often, but this was a special trip,” she said smiling at him. “Anyway, we were a day away from the homestead when our group was attacked by a bunch of men. Our guards fought hard to protect us, but there were too many men and all of our guards were killed.” Gelireth thought back to the battle the guards put up to save her and Mirwen, and it brought tears to her eyes as she thought of the lives lost, including her cousin. “Mirwen was killed also as far as I know. The men did not take her captive, and I did not see her anywhere when we left the site,” she said sadly, as tears rolled down her face.

“You and your cousin were close?” he asked.

Gelireth smiled through her tears as she remembered growing up with her cousin. “Yes, we were best friends and did almost everything together. I will never see her again, and I did not even get to tell her goodbye.”

“So what happened after you were captured,” he asked.

“For several days I was tied up with some other elves. There were three of us in all,” she said continuing with her story. “The men were cruel to us; they barely feed us, or gave us anything to drink. They did not hesitate to beat on any of us if we did not do exactly what they wanted or if we were moving too slow. A couple of days ago I tried to help a young she-elf who kept falling. She was exhausted, but when I tried to help her, one of the men beat me severely. You have seen the results of that. I finally fell unconscious so they had me unbound and tossed over a horse. Yesterday when we stopped just outside of this forest to rest, I took the opportunity and ran. Then you found me and that is the end of the story,” she said with a little smile.

Bregion resisted the sudden urge he had to take her in his arms to comfort her. For all the bravery she showed, he could see in her eyes the pain that had been caused not only by the cruel treatment of her and the other elves, but also for the loss of her cousin. “What will you do now?” he asked quietly.

“I need to find a way home,” she said staring into the fire. “I may have lost my cousin, but I still have a lot of family at home who will be worried about me.”

“How do you plan to get there?” he asked suspicion growing.

“I was hoping perhaps you could help me,” she said quietly looking at him with a silent plea.

“No, I will not take you home,” he said angrily as he stood up.

Gelireth also stood up and followed him as he started walking to the stream. “Why will you not help me?” she asked confused.

“I do not leave this forest,” he said. “It has become my home and I do not like to leave it. You are welcome to stay here if you like, but I am not, and I repeat, I am not taking you home!”

“Then tell me where I am and I will find my own way home,” she said stubbornly. “I will not stay here. I told you I have family that will be worried about me.”

“I do not care if your family is worried about you, but I am not taking you and there is no way you can make the journey on your own,” he said staring at her as if she had lost her mind.

“I will make the journey myself if I have to,” she said. She was slowly losing her patience and that was a rare thing for her. She had to get home; she had to see her family again. Why was this elf being so stubborn?

“You can make the journey on your own can you?” he asked menacingly.

Gelireth noticed the way he started moving toward her as if he was stalking her. She started moving backward from him saying, “Yes I can, if I know where to go.”

“If you can take care of yourself then perhaps you can tell me how it is that you ended up a captive in the first place,” he said continuing to follow her.

“That is not fair Bregion! I already told you we were attacked,” she said. She backed up against a tree as he closed in on her. She looked around and found there were not many places for her to run. She finally decided to make a dash for the stream, but just as she started to pass him, he reached out and grabbed hold of her. She struggled as he clasped his arms around her, but her strength was no match to his. “Let me go you beast!” she yelled.

“Gelireth, you told me you could make the journey on your own,” he said softly in her ear. “How can you do that when you can not even do something as simple as escape my arms?”

Gelireth finally quit struggling against him and went limp. She laid her head back on his chest and could not stop the tears that flowed down her face. “So you have proven your point Bregion,” she said between sobs. “Let me go please.”

Bregion turned her around in his arms and wiped the tears from her face with his thumb. “I do not mean to be cruel my little one, but it is foolishness to attempt to return home by yourself,” he said softly.

Gelireth looked up in his eyes and softly said, “Then take me home please. I promise once you get me to the borders of my forest our guards will take me the rest of the way and you can leave.”

Bregion thought for sure he would drown in those soulful eyes of hers and for a moment, he almost conceded but just as quickly, he pushed the thought from his mind and set her away from him. “I told you, I do not leave this forest and that is the end of it.” He quickly turned from her and walked back to the camp.

Gelireth sank to the ground and sobbed until there were no tears left to cry. She had no idea how she was going to get home, but she knew she would have to figure a way out. She sat next to the stream for several hours crying and trying to figure out how she was going to get home. She missed her family and right now, she would give anything to be in her fathers’ arms. She felt so alone and lost. She heard Bregion walking up to her. He stooped down next to her and placed his hand on her shoulder.

“Come back to camp Gelireth,” he said quietly. “I have a meal ready and you need some rest.”

“I am not hungry Bregion, but thank you,” she said quietly.

Bregion sighed deeply then standing up he scooped Gelireth up into his arms and carried her back to the camp. Gelireth did not protest. She was too tired to argue, so she rested her head on his shoulder and let him take her back to camp. Bregion set her down on her blankets and then handed her a plate of food. She stared at the food for a few moments and then set the plate on the ground next to her. She lay down on her blankets and stared into the fire.

“Gelireth, you need to eat,” Bregion said sitting down next to her.

Gelireth rolled over and stared up at him. “I do not feel like eating Bregion. I just want to go to sleep.”

Bregion sighed deeply and then rubbed his hand across her face. “Gelireth I do not mean to be cruel to you. You have been through enough, but starving yourself will not help matters any,” he said gently.

Tears started falling down her face again at his gentleness. How could he be so gentle and kind, yet still refuse to help her get home? Gelireth sat up and stared into his eyes. He had his own secrets buried in them she realized, but to refuse her help was beyond her imaginings. In her community, everybody helped each other, so it was beyond her understanding for him not to help. “Why will you not help me Bregion? Why will you not leave this forest?” she asked quietly.

Bregion removed his hand from her check and stared at her debating whether he should tell her his reasons or not. At last, he stood up and took a few steps back. He would not risk getting that close to her, so instead he took an attitude of indifference. “Eat if you like or do not eat. It makes no difference to me,” he said cruelly then turned and walked out of camp.

Gelireth watched Bregion walk into the forest and she wondered where he was going, but she was too tired to care. She rolled over onto her blankets and soon fell into a restless sleep. When Bregion returned to camp, he sat across from her and watched her. What was he going to do with her? Obviously, he could not keep her here, but neither did he want to take her home. His options were few. He saw the plate of untouched food and he picked it up and put it away. She had been through a horrible experience, and he felt lower than dirt making it worse for her. He would have to think on it some more, but he knew he would have to make a decision within the next day or two.

Gelireth woke up before the sun came up the next morning. She looked around and found Bregion across the fire from her still asleep. She got up, walked down to the stream, and waded through the cool water. She finally went to the bank of the stream and sat down with her arms wrapped around her legs and rested her chin on her knees. She watched as the sun came up over the cliffs and brightened the sky. She wondered what her parents were doing. Had they learned of her disappearance? Would they be looking for her? If Bregion would not take her home then she would have to find her own way to get there.

Gelireth had been sitting next to the stream thinking when Bregion walked up and sat down next to her. At first, he did not say anything but sat in silence with her. “Did you sleep well?” he finally asked.

Gelireth shrugged her shoulders and said, “I suppose. Better than I have in the last several weeks at least.”

“Come back to camp and we will get something to eat,” Bregion said standing up. Bregion offered her his hand. Gelireth looked at it for a moment, and then took it and stood up with him. They both walked back to the camp and sat down to eat. When they finished Gelireth helped Bregion clean up and then looked around at the dark forest. She watched as Bregion picked up his bow and strapped a sword on.

“Where are you going?” she asked him as he started to head into the forest.

Bregion turned around, “I have some business I need to take care of in the forest. I will not be gone too long, a couple of hours at the most,” he said heading back into the forest. “Stay here and I will return shortly.”

Gelireth watched as he quickly disappeared into the forest. She grabbed a water bag that she had seen among his gear, headed to the stream, and filled it up with water. She returned to the camp, grabbed a small bag, and filled it with some fruits. She stopped for a moment unsure of her decision to try to make it home on her own, but she pushed aside her doubt and headed into the forest in a different direction than Bregion had gone. She knew she had to travel as quickly as she could before Bregion returned and found she had left. She traveled through the forest as quickly as she could, but the denseness of the forest made quick passage difficult. She ducked under low hanging branches and climbed over large logs lying in her path. She walked for what seemed like hours, yet she still had not come to the end of the forest. How far into the forest had she traveled, she wondered. She finally decided to stop and rest for a moment. She looked around her wondering if she was even traveling in the right direction. She did not even know which direction she had come into the forest, much less how to get out, but she was determined to find her way home. Standing up she began walking again with a new determination to find her way out.

Suddenly out of nowhere, arms clasped around her and held her tight. “Where do you think you are going?” she heard Bregion ask her.

He held her tight against his chest and she struggled to free herself. “Let me go Bregion! I told you I have to go home,” she said struggling against him, but she was no match against his strength.

“Do not be a fool Gelireth. I have told you it is too dangerous to try to travel to your home by yourself,” he said letting her go.

Gelireth started to run as soon as he let her loose, but she did not get far before he caught her again knocking them both to the ground. “Let me go Bregion, you have no right to tell me that I can not leave here! Do you plan to keep me here as a prisoner forever?” she demanded.

Bregion rolled her over and sat across her hips trying to stop her struggling and fighting. “Stop now Gelireth!” he growled at her. “You are not a prisoner and you know it, but it is foolishness to try to go on your own!”

“Then take me home Bregion!” she argued. “If I am not a prisoner, then either let me go or take me home but either way, I am going home!”

“You are the most stubborn, argumentative she-elf I have ever known!” he said.

Gelireth started struggling against him again trying to free herself from his hold but she could not even begin to budge him off her. She finally quit struggling and just glared at him. When she quit fighting him, Bregion stood up and offered her a hand up. She brushed his hand aside, turned her back on him, and started walking through the forest again.

“What do you think you are doing?” he called after her but she ignored him and continued walking. She was determined to find her way home. As it was, she could not believe she had fought with him the way she had. She had never fought with anybody, let alone an elf she barely knew, but he could push any elf’s patience to beyond their limit. She refused to let some ill-tempered, bad mannered he-elf push her around and tell her what to do. She was still silently fuming over him when she was suddenly lifted off the ground and thrown over his shoulder.

Gelireth started pounding on his back as he turned to carry her back the way she had traveled. “Let me go you beast!” she yelled at him. “I said let me go,” she repeated as he continued walking.

He carried her this way for a short distance then he stopped and sat her down on a log. “Now you will listen to me,” he said to her. “It is not safe for a she-elf to be traveling alone across the country. Think about it, you had guards with you and yet they were all killed and you were taken as a prisoner. What do you think will happen if you are caught out there by yourself?” he asked her.

“Why will you not take me home then?” she asked close to tears again, but she refused to let him see her cry again.

“I told you Gelireth, I rarely leave this forest. I have traveled out of it long enough to get some things I may need that are not available to me here, but otherwise I do not leave here,” he tried explaining again patiently.

“Why do you not leave the forest Bregion?” she asked quietly wondering why he would choose this exile.

Bregion stared at her for a moment once again debating on telling her his past, but again he refused to reveal that part of himself to her. “My reasons are my own Gelireth. Now you will get up and walk back to camp on your own, or I will carry you all the way there. The choice is yours,” he said menacingly.

“You are nothing more than and ill-mannered bully if you want my opinion,” Gelireth said. She did not know how to fight him except with words so she used them without caution.

“I did not ask for your opinion, nor do I care what your opinion is, but you will be returning to camp now!” he growled at her.

“You are a despicable coward Bregion…” she never had the chance to finish her sentence.

Faster than she thought possible for him to move, Bregion grabbed her by the arms and held her against the trunk of a tree using his body to hold her there. Bregion saw her wince, but he did not let her go as he leaned his face close to hers. “I may be many things Gelireth, despicable, ill-tempered, and even rude as you say, but the one thing I can guarantee I am not, is a coward,” he growled at her. “If you have any sense in that well pampered head of yours you would do well not to ever accuse me of that again, do I make myself clear?”

Gelireth could do no more than nod her head as she saw the anger sparkling in his eyes. She had not expected him to get so angry with her, but of course, she was not thinking of the words she was speaking in her anger.

Bregion released some of the pressure he had on her and said, “Now, once again I am giving you the option of whether you walk back to camp, or I carry you. It makes no difference to me, but either way you are returning.”

As soon as Bregion released her Gelireth moved away from the tree and slowly started to walk back to camp. She was frustrated as she realized there were not many option left to her. Whether he thought so or not, he was indeed keeping her a prisoner here and she was no happier about being his prisoner than the horrible men who had captured her.

Bregion took the lead in front of her as she silently walked back. As much as she tried to prevent it, tears rolled down her checks as she walked along and they blurred her vision. Occasionally she would stumble on some vines or limbs that she did not see and eventually Bregion stopped. He turned to her and said, “Let me help you Gelireth before you fall and hurt yourself.”

“I do not need, nor do I want your help Bregion. Just lead on and I will follow,” she said quietly.

“Gelireth, I do not want you to hurt yourself,” he said. “You have been through enough and the last thing you need…”

“I do not care what you want Bregion,” she said defiantly. “Nor do I care what you think. You say I am to go back to the camp, so I am going. Lead the way oh mighty master!”

“You are being childish Gelireth,” he said losing his patience again.

Gelireth wiped the tears from her face and walked past him determined to stay as far away from him as she could, but as she passed him, she stumbled again. Bregion reached out and caught her, but she quickly pulled herself free and continued walking. Bregion gave up and walked close behind her. He had not meant to be so rough with her, but he could not stand to be called a coward.

As they arrived at the camp Gelireth was again trying to figure a way to get home. Suddenly a thought struck her and she turned to Bregion. “If you take me home my father can reward you for my safe return,” she said hoping that would inspire him. She watched as first hurt, then disappointment, and finally anger filled his eyes.

Bregion took a step toward Gelireth and she took a step backwards frightened by his anger. Bregion stopped and smirked at her and said in a low angry voice, “Take a look around you Gelireth! Does it look like I need your precious father to reward me for returning his spoiled little brat?” Bregion was angry. He was offended that she would think he would need to stoop so low as to take payment to return her home. “Let me make a suggestion and I would seriously take it to heart if I were you,” he said angrily, “Never again make such a suggestion to me.” He started to walk off but stopped for a moment and said over his shoulder, “I would also suggest you stay away from me for awhile. I cannot promise to control my temper much more. You have insulted me enough today to last a life time.” With that, he turned back into the forest where he had gone that morning and left Gelireth staring after him.

She was feeling miserable and depressed. All she wanted was to go home, but it would seem it was never going to happen. She walked to the stream and sat down again wrapped in her own misery. It had grown dark and chilly, but she did not return to camp. She did not hear Bregion as he walked over to the stream and sat down next to her. “Gelireth, I am sorry for getting so angry with you today,” he said trying his best to comfort her. After his anger had left him, he had felt horrible for treating her so badly. “Gelireth look at me please.”

“Just go away please. I want to be alone,” she said. She sat with her arms wrapped around her legs and her forehead resting on her knees. She did not even look at him, nor did she want to.

“Gelireth you are going to make yourself ill like this. Please come to camp, eat, and then get some rest. We will talk some more tomorrow,” he said trying to convince her to come back to the warmth of the camp.

“As I recall Bregion, you told me to stay away from you, so that is what I am doing,” she said stubbornly. “Now please, go away and leave me in peace.”

Bregion sighed heavily then asked, “Where is your home Gelireth?”

“Why do you care? You will not leave your precious forest remember?” she said sarcastically. “I do not know what you are so afraid of beyond these borders, but there is a world out there that exists and my family is part of it, but you do not care about any of that.” She stood up with her hands on her hips and glared at him. “Go away Bregion! I do not wish to talk to you now or ever!”

Bregion stood up, once again angry and frustrated with her. He had planned to take her home despite not liking to leave his home, but since she did not desire his company, he decided to let her live in her own misery for a while longer. “I will leave you alone then, but remember this night later my little one, because it has just cost you dearly.”

Gelireth watched as he started walking back to camp and wondered what he had meant by his last comment. “What do you mean Bregion?” she called out to him, but he ignored her and kept walking. “Bregion, what did you mean by that last comment?” she asked following him into camp.

When Bregion returned to camp, he grabbed a pouch and put some apples in it, grabbed his bow and headed back into the forest. He decided he needed some time and space from her before he completely lost his temper with her. He did not understand why he let her get to him so easily.

Gelireth watched as he walked into the forest again completely ignoring her. She waited for a bit to see if he would return. When he did not return, she decided to go looking for him. She followed the well-worn trail that was easy to see even in the dark. It turned here and there, and then would climb up for a little way and then back down again. Finally, she broke through the forest to see a large open valley surrounded by mountains and water falls. The beauty of it astounded her and all she could do was stare in wonder. Far across the valley floor, she could see something moving swiftly, and as she looked more closely, she saw it was Bregion riding a large black horse. The moon was full and shone brightly giving her an excellent view from where she stood. She watched in wonder as horse and rider swiftly crossed the valley and then turned back the way they had come. She wondered why he left the horse here, and camped back by the other stream and waterfalls. She continued to watch in fascination as Bregion slowed the horse down to a walk and then jump down. He rubbed the horse down and she could just barely hear him talking to the horse, but she could not understand what he was saying. He pulled an apple out of his pouch and handed it to the horse.

Bregion was glad to have ridden across the valley again. It always let him wear out his anger and frustrations, and Faermorn always enjoyed the run. He handed Faermorn another apple, but as he did, his eyes caught movement at the border of the forest. So the little temptress had followed him had she? He grinned for a moment and then he mounted his horse again and took off across the valley, but just as he started to head back around he brought Faermorn up close to the border of the forest where he had seen Gelireth. He laughed as he saw her move behind a tree, but he was not to be daunted. He moved Faermorn through the trees with ease until he was near the tree where she was hiding. As he saw her peeking around, he reached down, scooped her up, and put her on the horse in front of him. Gelireth held her breath as Bregion placed her in front of him and set the horse into a hard gallop across the valley. At first, she was terrified. She was not use to such a large and powerful horse, but Bregion leaned forward and whispered in her ear, “Just hang on to his mane. I will hold you. I promise I will not let you fall.” Bregion tightened his hold on her and soon Gelireth was laughing as they rode across the valley. When they reached the end of the valley Bregion quickly turned the horse to run back across the valley. Gelireths’ long blonde hair flowed back and tangled in with Bregions’ long black hair. As they finally reached the other end of the valley Bregion turned Faermorn under the waterfall and Gelireth laughed as water ran over them both. She looked up and let the water cascade down her. Bregion laughed along with her as they and the horse ended up soaking wet. Bregion trotted the horse back out to the middle of the valley and stopped. He jumped down, and then reached up to help Gelireth down. She placed her hands on his arms and slid to the ground still laughing. Bregion did not want to let her go, so he held her loosely in his arms looking down into her face. He was stunned by how beautiful she was, especially when she was laughing and her eyes were lit up. He gently brushed a wet lock of hair out of her face and before he could stop himself, he leaned down and kissed her. At first Gelireth was surprised, but as he deepened the kiss, she leaned forward into his arms and wrapped her arms around his neck tangling her fingers into the wet strands of his hair.

Bregion finally ended the kiss, pulled Gelireth into his arms, and rested his chin on top of her head. “What am I going to do with you?” he asked softly.

“You could always kiss me again,” she said laughing softly.

Bregion looked down into her eyes. He was tempted to do just that, but instead he led her over to the edge of the forest and sat down bringing her down with him. He set her down between his legs and wrapped his arms around her as they watched Faermorn running across the valley.

“I am sorry Bregion,” Gelireth said as they watched Faermorn.

“For what my little one?” he asked.

Gelireth turned around and sat on her knees as she looked at him. “For how cruel I was earlier today. I swear that is not my normal behavior, and I am ashamed that I was so mean to you.”

Bregion brushed his hand across her check and gently smiled at her. “I wish I could say it was your entire fault,” he said laughing gently, “But I am just as much to blame as you. I too am sorry for being so harsh with you my little one.”

Gelireth smiled at him, leaned forward, and daringly kissed him briefly on the lips. She sat back and looked at him. She wondered at the mysteries behind this elf. Then she remembered a question he had asked earlier. “I live in the Forest of Brethil,” she said. Gelireth stood up and walked a little way across the valley. “It is on the border of the Sirion and Teiglin Rivers. It is beautiful there. We have a large community of elves and my grandparents are the Lord and Lady of the forest. I have two brothers and one sister.” Gelireth turned back around to him laughing softly as she thought of her family. “Then there is always my Uncle Tauron and Aunt Elwen. They have three children also, and my brother and his wife have twin sons.”

Bregion watched her eyes as she talked about her family. He could not make her wait. It brought an unexpected pain to him to see her hurt, so he stood up and walked over to her. He placed a hand on the side of her check and said, “I will take you home Gelireth.”

Gelireth looked up at him in shock, but hope soon lit up her eyes and she was smiling so brightly, that Bregion swore, he would do everything in his power to keep that smile on her face from now on. “You are really going to take me home Bregion?” Gelireth asked breathlessly.

“My little one, if it leaves that beautiful smile on your face I would vanquish every foe for you,” he said smiling at her.

Gelireth was so excited that she flung her arms around his neck and hugged him. “Thank you Bregion. I do not think I can thank you enough!” she said excitedly.

Bregion hugged her close to him, and closed his eyes just enjoying the feel of her in his arms. “It will take me a couple of days to get everything ready to go. I hope that is alright,” he said laughing gently.

Gelireth leaned back in his arms with her arms still around his neck and she smiled up at him mischievously, “On one condition,” she said grinning.

“Oh now we are setting conditions are we?” he said grinning back at her. “So what is your condition my little one?”

“That you take me for another moonlight ride tomorrow evening,” she said laughing.

Bregion laughed, “It is a deal.” Then he leaned down and kissed her again. “That kiss seals the bargain,” he said grinning down at her.

“If a kiss seals a bargain then I must work to find other bargains,” she said a little breathless.

“Trust me my little one,” he said leaning down again, “You do not have to make a bargain with me to get a kiss.” To prove his point he tightened his hold on her and thoroughly kissed her. When he ended the kiss Gelireth laid her head against his chest, and then she quietly started giggling. “That kiss did not have the effect I was hoping for,” he said with mock offense.

“I was laughing because it was just this afternoon that I swore I would never talk to you again, and now here I am this evening kissing you. I have not decided how that happened,” she said laughing.

“To be quite honest with you, I am not sure either.” Bregion took her by the hand and started walking back to the camp. “We have a lot to do to get ready for the journey home my little one, so we need to get some rest.”

They walked back to camp together in companionable silence. Once they arrived at the camp, Bregion gave Gelireth another quick kiss then sent her to her blankets while he laid down on his. He watched her through the fire. Soon she was asleep with a smile on her lips and he was tempted to kiss them again. You are a fool he thought to himself. He was taking her home, and then he was coming back. He did not need to get too involved with this beautiful she-elf or he would forever be lost. Memories of the past haunted him for the rest of the evening and he could not sleep, so he got up early and prepared everything for their journey. He knew he had said a couple of days, and he had promised her another moonlight ride, but he realized he had to get her home for his own peace of mind. He walked out to the valley, got Faermorn, put the bridle on him, and led him back to their camp. By the time Gelireth woke up, Bregion had everything ready for their journey.

“Good morning my little one,” he said as he handed her some food. “I hope you will forgive me, but I think we will leave for your home today. I spent the night getting everything ready and once you have eaten, we can leave.”

“You have not slept Bregion?” she asked concerned. “I told you I did not mind waiting a couple more days. Just the knowledge that I was finally going home was enough for me.”

“I know, but I could not sleep last night, so I decided to prepare things and leave today,” he said wrapping her blankets up for her.

“If you are sure Bregion, then I am thrilled to leave today,” she said.

They quickly finished eating then Bregion set Gelireth up on Faermorn and jumped up behind her. He set Faermorn on the path out of the forest. They rode for a couple of hours before they reached the border. As they reached the border, Bregion brought the horse to a stop. He tensed up for a moment, but Gelireth laid a hand on his arm and looked back at him grinning. “Do not worry,” she teased, “I will protect you.” Bregion laughed, placed a kiss on her temple, and then urged Faermorn out of the forest.

The sun was shining brightly as they rode out of the forest and Bregion soon had Faermorn running at a full gallop across the open plains. Gelireth clung tightly to the black mane but she finally felt the freedom that came with the knowledge that she was going home to her family. Faermorn swiftly covered the land and it was not long before the forest was completely out of sight. Bregion brought Faermorn to a slow canter after they had ridden for several hours. Once he had a chance to cool down, Bregion pulled him to a stop and jumped down.

“Why are we stopping Bregion?” Gelireth asked as he helped her off the horse.

“Faermorn needs a rest for one reason, my little one, but also we need to eat so this is as good a time as any,” he said as he started pulling some supplies from a large pouch he was carrying.

“Is there anything that I can do to help?” Gelireth asked as she watched Bregion taking items from the pouch.

Bregion looked up at her. His thought as he watched her were unreadable, but he was glad that she turned to look around them. He was afraid that if he had continued to look at her, then she would know his feelings and he was determined she would not know. “No Gelireth, I have everything under control here.” He watched as she walked around admiring a plant here or there, and let her hands skim over some of the tall grass that Faermorn was eating. He admired the way she walked with such grace, and how so many things easily brought a smile to her face. The breeze was blowing her hair as she walked around and occasionally she would brush her hair out of her face with her hand. “Everything is ready,” he said calling to her.

Gelireth turned, smiled at him, and walked over to where he had laid out some food while she was exploring. “It is beautiful here. How long do you think it will take for us to get home Bregion?” she asked.

“I am not sure Gelireth,” he said as they sat down, “A lot depends on the weather, and if we run into any unwanted company.”

Gelireth stopped as she was taking some fruit. “Bregion, you do not think we will run into trouble do you?” she asked nervously.

“Do not worry my little one,” he said as he took her hand, “I promise to get you home safely. We will have to be careful though and keep our eyes open as we journey, alright?”

“Alright Bregion,” she answered. She removed her hand from his and took the fruit, but suddenly she found she could not eat it. What if they were attacked, she thought to herself. What if Bregion were injured or killed like the guards? What would she do? Then another thought occurred to her and she looked up and watched Bregion as he handed Faermorn an apple. How would her heart handle losing him? He had become her friend and she care about him. She wondered again, why he chose his self-inflicted exile and what mysteries surrounded him. Of course, she was still going to lose him once they reached her home.

Bregion turned around after giving Faermorn the apple and saw the look of pain that was crossing Gelireths face. He rushed to her and took her in his arms, “Gelireth, are you alright? Is there something wrong?” he asked in concern.

Gelireth looked up at the elf that had some how become dear to her. She wanted to cry as she realized he would leave her soon, but instead she smiled weakly at him and answered, “No I am fine Bregion. I was just thinking about home is all, and that I will be returning soon, but Mirwen will not be there anymore.”

“I am sorry for your loss Gelireth, and I wish there were something I could do to take away your pain,” he said holding her close to him. Bregion stood up and gathered all of their stuff to prepare to leave again.

While he did that Gelireth took a few minutes to compose her thoughts and her feelings. She could not risk caring too much for him otherwise; she would be broken hearted when he left her. When Bregion had everything ready, he helped Gelireth onto Faermorn and they rode off again at a full gallop through the tall grass that covered the plains. It was well past sundown when he finally pulled the horse to a stop. They had reached a small stream where they could camp for the night. Bregion jumped down from the horse and then helped Gelireth down. He could tell she was exhausted, but she smiled up at him as he got the pouch with food.

“Should I get some wood for a fire?” she asked him.

“No Gelireth, we can not risk a fire,” he said as he handed her some food. “It is too dangerous and we are too few should we get attacked.”

Gelireth took the food as she sat down. Bregion pulled an extra cloak out of his pouch and wrapped it around her and she looked up at him and smiled. As soon as they had finished eating, she lay down to sleep, but it was long in coming, as his words had made her nervous.

Bregion was lying close to her and saw her restlessness. “Go to sleep Gelireth. I promise, we will be safe,” he said quietly to her.

Gelireth rolled over to stare at him. She smiled and said, “You will protect me I know, but who will protect you?”

Bregions’ heart lurched as he realized she was also concerned for his safety and not only her own. “I believe you promised to protect me when we left the forest,” he said teasing trying to alleviate some of her worry.

She laughed softly as she remembered her words. “Will you tell me why you hate to leave the forest Bregion?” she asked again.

Bregion rolled onto his back and stared up at the stars in the sky. Memories flooded him as he thought of the past but he looked back at Gelireth and debated his answer. “Not tonight my little one,” he finally answered her. “Go to sleep. Perhaps another night I shall tell you.”

“I can not seem to go to sleep Bregion. I am tired, but I am also excited because I am going home,” she said softly.

Bregion looked over at her and then he lifted the cloak from around him and invited her to join him. Gelireth looked at his silent invitation, but finally she shook her head and said, “No I think I had better stay here Bregion. I appreciate the thought, but for now I think this is better.” Gelireth had been so tempted to curl up next to him and let his warmth chase away all her fears and doubts, but she was not willing to risk getting that close to him.

“Good night then Gelireth,” he said in a strained voice and he rolled over with his back to her. She could tell she had hurt his feelings as he was only trying to comfort her, but how could she tell him that she was starting to care about him more than was safe? She watched him for a while, and then she finally rolled over and went to sleep also.

It was nearing dawn when Gelireth woke up to Bregion gently shaking her. She sat up confused and he held his finger over his lips to indicate for her to be silent. He leaned down and whispered into her ear, “There is something out there. Faermorn alerted me. I have everything ready to go.” He stood up, took hold of her, and placed her on Faermorn. He was about to jump on also when a growling sound was heard nearby. Bregion turned to look behind him just in time to see two large wolves stalking them. There was no time, he had to get Gelireth out of there, so he slapped Faermorn on his hindquarters and yelled, “Run and do not stop for anything!” Faermorn leaped up and started running across the plains. Bregion could hear Gelireth shouting, but he had no time to worry about that as two more wolves followed the others and surrounded him.

Gelireth panicked as Faermorn took off leaving Bregion behind. She tugged as hard as she could on the reins, but the horse was frightened and would not stop. She kept tugging and yelling at the horse, “Faermorn stop! We have to back for him! Faermorn we can not leave him please stop!” Slowly she was able to bring the horse under control and turned him to head back the way they had just traveled. Gelireth looked on in horror as they were reaching him and saw four large wolves attacking. Bregion turned quickly and sliced through one wolf and he fell dead at Bregions’ feet. Just as he was turning, another wolf lunged at him and Bregion was able to place his sword into his chest, and it fell dead. That left two wolves circling him. Gelireth urged Faermorn into a hard run and they charged at the wolves. Just as they both were about to attack Bregion, Faermorn reared up and pounded one wolf with his hooves, while Bregion sliced through the last one. Bregion fell to the ground breathing hard from the battle. Gelireth jumped off Faermorn, ran over to him, and knelt down beside him.

“Bregion are you hurt?” she asked quickly.

Bregion looked up at her as if just noticing that she was there, “I told you to leave. I did not want you to get hurt like the others. Why are you here?”

Gelireth looked at him stunned by the tone of anger in his voice. She could see he was injured, but then another comment he made caught her attention, “What others Bregion? There are just you and I,” she said in confusion.

Bregion looked around as if confused. “They are all dead are they not?” he asked.

“Bregion look at me!” Gelireth demanded. She was confused about what he was talking about, but it seemed to her like he was reliving some type of horror from the past. “Bregion it is me, Gelireth,” she said quietly. She took his face in her hands and made him look at her.

Bregion looked at Gelireth in confusion, but as the battle with the wolves started clearing from his mind, he was able to focus on her face. He shook his head for a moment as he tried to clear his mind of the hauntings of the past. “Gelireth, why are you here? I sent you off on Faermorn,” he asked as he tried to stand up.

“Did you really think I would leave you Bregion?” she asked helping him up. “You are hurt. Let me take a look at it,” she said trying to look at his side.

“No Gelireth, we have to get out of here and now!” Bregion said urgently. He quickly checked Faermorn for injuries, and then set Gelireth up on the horse. He looked around at the dead wolves, and then he too climbed onto Faermorn and put him into a gallop quickly leaving the dead wolves behind them. The sun had risen and they had ridden for several hours following the stream when Gelireth suddenly realized that Bregion seemed to have gotten heavy against her.

“Bregion are you alright?” she asked in concern but he did not answer. She pulled Faermorn to a halt and tried to turn to talk to Bregion, but he was too heavy on her. With a lot of struggling, she finally managed to slide to the ground, and then brought Bregion down. He was too heavy for her to move, so she left him lying where he was. She opened his blood soaked shirt and stared in horror at what she saw. His side had been slashed open by one of the wolves and he had lost a lot of blood. Gelireth quickly went to the stream and got some water. She found some roots and plants that she needed on her way back to him. In no time, she had made a small fire and boiled some water in a small pot she had found in his supplies. She cleansed the wound with the hot water and plants and then bandaged it with bits of the cloak she had worn the night before. There was not much more she could do for him so she sat there beside him, as he lay unconscious. As the day wore on, Bregion fell into a restless sleep and kept tossing around. He kept mumbling in his sleep about having to save someone, and that someone had to run. Gelireth was worried that he would break the bandages off and start bleeding again. She sat next to him and held his head in her lap. Tears were running down her face as she talked to him.

“You can not die Bregion. You have to be alright,” she said through her tears. “I was not supposed to love you, but I do Bregion,” she whispered in his ear. “Can you hear me Bregion? I love you. You have to live. You can not leave me now.” Gelireth spent hours holding him and talking to him. Eventually he settled into a fitful sleep. Gelireth lay down next to him on the side that was not injured. She curled up next to him; laid her head on his shoulder, and wrapped her arm around him. After several hours, she finally fell asleep.

Gelireth woke up to the feel of a hand gently moving across her face and down her neck. She opened her eyes and found Bregion staring down at her. He gently rubbed his thumb across her lips, and then he leaned down and softly kissed her. Gelireth wrapped her arms around his neck as she pulled him closer to her and deepened the kiss. She was happy to see him awake. “I thought I was going to lose you,” she said breathlessly as he lifted his head.

“Would you have missed me my little one?” he asked softly still stroking her cheek with his hand.

“Yes Bregion, I would have missed you. My heart would have died with you if you had died,” she said sincerely.

Bregion looked into her eyes and he saw the truth of her words in them. “I was not going to love you Gelireth. I was supposed to take you home and then walk out of your life,” he said tenderly before leaning down to kiss her again. He moved his hand down her side, pulled her closer to his body, and held her tight against him as he continued to kiss her. “What do I do now my little one?” he asked quietly. “Where do we go from here, because I definitely love you? I do not know how I am going to let you go once we reach your home. Come back to the forest with me Gelireth. We can be happy there,” he said almost in desperation. He did not want to let her go. How could he let her go?

Gelireth brushed her hand across his face moving some locks of black hair that were dangling across his face. “I love you also Bregion, but I must return to my home. I have to see my family. We will decide the future after that. Please understand, I want to be with you, but my family is very important to me and I must see them.” She waited to see what he would do. She was terrified that he would push her away and turn his back on her, but instead he leaned his head down and rested his forehead on hers.

“I understand Gelireth. More than you will probably ever know,” he said softly as a haunted look came into his eyes again.

Gelireth stroked his check then said, “Bregion, yesterday after the battle with the wolves you said you did not want me hurt like the others. What others Bregion, will you tell me?”

Bregion laid there thinking for a moment and then sat up. “Yes Gelireth, I will tell you while we continue riding today,” he said carefully standing up.

“Well that will not be a problem love, because we are not riding anywhere today,” she said.

“Gelireth I …” he started to protest.

“You will not bully me into agreeing with you this time Bregion. You need to rest at least one more day if not two. Otherwise you will bust open your wound again and I refuse to allow that to happen.” Gelireth had stood up in front of him with her hands on her hips daring him to challenge her decision.

Bregion laughed softly, and then stepping forward, he took Gelireth into his arms. “Do you know how beautiful you are when you are arguing?” he asked mischievously.

Gelireth wrapped her arms around his neck. “Beautiful or not my handsome warrior, you are not leaving today, so that means after we eat you can tell me your tale,” she quickly leaned up and gave him a tender kiss, and then turned to get them some food. Bregion grinned as he watched her walk away from him. He may not have wanted to get emotionally involved with her, but it would seem fate had a different plan for him. He decided that destiny must have decided to step into their lives and bring them together. If she was his destiny though, how were they ever going to work out her being in one place, and him in another?

Gelireth went about fixing some food while Bregion sat down next to the stream and cleaned up a little. He was still plagued by the doubts and confusion he felt with the new turn that had taken place with Gelireth, but he was determined to sort them out. He finished washing at the stream and went back to where Gelireth had set up camp. He was surprised how well she had done in taking care of everything while he was unconscious. Faermorn grazed nearby and he could see that the horse also faired well.

“Come sit down and eat Bregion,” Gelireth called to him. As he sat down, she handed him some food, and then sat down to eat also. “After we eat, I want to take a look at your wounds,” she said.

“They are fine Gelireth,” he said smiling at her. “Thank you for taking care of me and Faermorn.”

Gelireth blushed under the admiring glance from Bregion. “I did not mind,” she said as she stood up and started putting away the items they had been using. Once she was finished, she turned to Bregion. “Let me take a look at your wounds again Bregion,” she said walking over to him.

Bregion stood up and carefully removed the clean shirt he had put on while cleaning up at the stream. “I really do not think you need to check them Gelireth. They are fine, but if it will make you feel better, then you may go ahead and check them,” he said grinning as he removed his shirt.

Gelireth stared at his well-muscled chest and then looked up at him. Swallowing hard she reached out and started removing the bandages from his side. As she removed the bandages, her hands briefly brushed across the skin on his chest and she heard him suck in his breath. “I am sorry Bregion; I did not mean to hurt you. I was trying to be careful,” she said apologetically.

Bregion took hold of her hand, “You did not hurt me my little one.” Bregion finished removing the bandages himself and let her inspect the wounds. When she was finished, he helped her to rewrap them and then he pulled her into his arms gently.

Gelireth blushed as she leaned against his chest. “I believe Bregion that you said you would tell me the story of your past,” she said as she tried to pull out of his embrace.

“Yes I did, but I thought perhaps after such tender ministrations, you might consider giving me a kiss instead,” Bregion said.

“Bregion I am being serious,” she said pulling out of his arms. “I would like to know what you were talking about yesterday.

Bregion reached down and grabbed his shirt that he had let slide to the ground while Gelireth had tended to his wound. “This morning you seemed interested in more than a talk,” he said.

“Well this morning I was just glad to see you alive and awake,” Gelireth said as she watched him put his shirt on.

“I see,” he said quietly. “So you were just glad I was still going to be able to take you home, is that what you mean Gelireth,” he asked a bit angrily.

“That is not what I meant Bregion and you know it,” she answered him stubbornly. “I simply meant…”

“Do not worry about it Gelireth,” Bregion said crossly. “I want to check a few things and make sure we are ready to move on tomorrow.” Bregion walked away leaving her stare at him.

“Bregion wait,” Gelireth called out to him.

Bregion turned around and looked at her in contempt. “There is nothing to say Gelireth,” he said coldly. “This morning you lay in my arms and acted like you were glad to see me, but now when I tried to kiss you I was not wanted. As I said, I have things I need to take care of. For that matter, there is no reason why we should wait another day to leave. As you have seen, my wounds are just fine, so I will get the gear together, and we will leave immediately.” Bregion walked away from her and started grabbing things in their campsite to prepare to leave.

“Bregion stop,” Gelireth said. “You still need to rest another day. I did not mean to hurt your feelings…”

“I do not want to hear it Gelireth,” he said as he continued to pack up their supplies. “I told you I would take you home and that is what I am doing. Once you are at your borders, then you will be rid of me and that will be the end of it.”

Gelireth walked over and took hold of him by the arm. “Is that what you think I want Bregion?” she asked angrily. “Do you really think I want to be rid of you?”

Bregion ignored her and continued to prepare to leave. He called Faermorn over to him as he put the bridle back on him. Gelireth stood nearby watching not sure what to do. “Everything is ready Gelireth, so let us be on our way,” Bregion said harshly.

“I told you we were not leaving today,” she said stubbornly. “You need another day to rest.”

“If you want to go home Gelireth, then I would suggest you get over here and get on this horse,” Bregion said in restrained anger. “Otherwise you can find your own way home.”

Gelireth stared at him in disbelief, and then she walked up to him. She looked up at him and placed her hand on the side of his face, but her jerked away from her. “Bregion, I did not mean to hurt your feelings,” she said quietly. “I told you this morning how I feel about you and that has not changed.”

Bregion looked down at her. He had to get her home and the sooner the better. “Get on the horse Gelireth,” he said. He was calling himself all kinds of a fool for having let her get so close to him when he knew he would soon be leaving her. Perhaps if he could make her hate him, then it would not be so difficult for her to leave him.

Gelireth continued to stare at him in confusion. What had she done to cause this change in his attitude? “No Bregion, I refuse to ride on today.”

Before she even realized what he was doing, Bregion reached out, grabbed hold of her, and pulled her up against him. “Gelireth you are walking on dangerous grounds,” he hissed at her. “I am in no mood to argue with you. I said we will ride on today and that is what we are going to do!” Bregion picked her up and sat her on Faermorn and before she could protest he jumped up behind her and set Faermorn into a hard run.

Gelireth hung onto the black mane as they quickly followed the river. She let tears run down her face. Why was he suddenly being so harsh with her? Did he regret telling her how he felt, or did he simply not want her? These questions continued to run through her mind for the rest of the day as they rode. It was growing late when Bregion finally pulled Faermorn to a halt. He slid off the horse and helped Gelireth down. His side was hurting him, but he was not going to tell her.

“I will get us something to eat,” Bregion said.

Gelireth sat down, wrapped her arms around her legs, and watched as Bregion took care of getting everything. She felt miserable. She was tired, and she felt she had done something seriously wrong to cause Bregion to be so harsh with her. She looked up as he handed her some food and she took it from him. “Thank you,” she mumbled.

Bregion watched Gelireth for a moment. He started to say something to her, but changed his mind and walked to a log opposite of her and sat down to eat. He kept looking up at her as she slowly ate. He wanted to apologize. He wanted to hold her. He wanted anything except to see her unhappy, but he was not sure how to do it. Finally, at a loss as to what to say, he stood up and gathered everything back up. “You can share my cloak with me Gelireth so that you will not be cold,” he said.

Gelireth looked up at him and then stared off across the stream. “No thank you Bregion, I am fine,” she said softly.

Bregion sighed, walked over to Gelireth, and handed her his cloak. “Here, you can use my cloak to stay warm,” he said.

Gelireth held the cloak in her hands for a moment, then stood up, and threw the cloak back at him. As it hit him in the face, he grabbed hold of it, and then threw it on the ground. “I do not want to use your cloak Bregion,” Gelireth said quietly. “I do not need you to coddle me like I am some witless elfling!”

“What do you want from me Gelireth?” Bregion finally asked.

“What do I want? I just want to go home Bregion. I guess nothing else matters does it?” she asked quietly. She turned away from him and walked to the edge of the stream staring off across it into the distance lost in her deep tormented thoughts.

“I am taking you home Gelireth just like I promised,” Bregion said.

Gelireth turned around and looked at him. “Yes you are Bregion. You are most definitely an elf of your word,” she said to him softly.

“I will have you to your borders in just a few days Gelireth, and then I will trouble you no longer.” Bregion picked up his cloak, walked over to her, and handed it back to her. “You will need this tonight, it is getting chilly.” He started to turn around, but Gelireth stopped him.

“What do you want Bregion?” she asked him quietly.

“What do you mean what do I want?” he asked suddenly feeling cornered.

Gelireth turned and looked him directly in the eyes. “Just what I said Bregion, what do you want?” she repeated. “What do you want from me? Why did you say you love me, and then treat me like your worst enemy? Why did you lie to me?”

“I never lied to you Gelireth,” he said defensively. “What I want does not matter anymore. What matters is that I get you home as quickly as possible.” Bregion turned to leave, but was stopped again by Gelireths’ words.

“Yes, take me home Bregion, then I will not interfere with your perfect little world anymore,” she said sarcastically.

Bregion turned on her again and grabbed her by the arms. “Perfect little world? Why not tell me what part of my world is so perfect!” he growled out to her. “I live in a forest by myself because I failed the people who needed me the most. I cannot change that fact nor bring them back to life. I cannot even seem to get you home safely without something going wrong. So tell me just what part of my world do you think is perfect?” He glared at her, holding her tight around the arms with his face mere inches from hers.

Gelireth looked into his eyes and saw all the hurt he had held back, but she was also hurting and it brought words of anger before she could stop them. “Your world must be perfect Bregion,” she said angrily. “You do not need anybody. You do not need nor want my love. You cannot even live a real life.” She knew her words were making him angrier, but she was unable to stop herself. “I was wrong to give you my heart Bregion. My heart belongs to an elf that is worthy of it. One who is not afraid to live, and to love. You are so afraid of the world out here that you cannot take what was so freely given to you. Just this morning you told me you loved me, yet that made you so afraid that now you have decided cruelty is better than love.”

“Enough Gelireth, you do not know what you are talking about!” Bregion shouted at her. “You do not know what I have been through or what my life has been like. You have not lived my nightmare, so how can you sit there and place judgment on me?”

“You are right Bregion, I have not lived your nightmare, but I have lived my own in the last few weeks,” she answered him. “Yet I am still willing to face life and continue living. I am not afraid to love, nor am I afraid to walk outside of the little space made just for me,” she said. “Yes take me home Bregion, and I will live, and I will not be afraid to live.”

Bregion held onto her with barely suppressed anger, “Shut up Gelireth! You do not know what you are saying. I failed do you understand that? I failed my family. They all died and yet I lived, and like a coward, I have hidden in my forest all alone and lived with my shame all these years. I do not need some pampered little she-elf to come along and tell me what she thinks she knows. Trust me Gelireth you know nothing!”

“Then tell me Bregion, tell me what happened,” she asked quietly.

Bregion looked at her, and then his eyes glazed over as he remembered the beginning of his nightmare. “My family and I were traveling with a large number of our community. We had decided to travel across the mountains to seek a new home,” he began quietly lost in the past. “It was a warm day, but we were happy to be traveling together. We were near the border of the mountains when we were ambushed.” Bregion let go of Gelireth and walked to the edge of the stream. “There were so many orcs. We fought the best we could but the numbers of orcs just seemed to keep growing. My brother and I tried to get all of the she-elves and elflings to safety while the other elves fought behind us, but a horde of orcs appeared before us blocking the way. My brother and I fought with them and I was injured. I fell just as I saw them kill my brother. When I regained consciousness the orcs were gone, but all the other elves, every single one were dead. I managed to bury them all and then made my way to the forest where we meet. I have remained there ever since.” Bregion fell to his knees beside the stream, “I failed them Gelireth. Now do you understand? I do not deserve your love. You are right, you deserve to be loved by someone who is worthy of you.”

Gelireth walked over to him, sat down in front of him, and took his face in her hands. “Bregion, what happened is tragic, but it was not your fault. You are but one elf and you fought as best as you could to protect your family,” she said gently. “You are brave and strong. A coward would not have sent me away to fight four wolves on his own. A coward would have run and left me to defend myself, but you did not do that Bregion.” Gelireth lifted his face to look into his eyes. “A coward would never have earned my love, and despite everything Bregion, I do love you. You own my heart and I cannot take it back. It belongs to you because you are brave, strong, caring, and compassionate. Think about it my love, you faced your fear and have conquered it. You did not like leaving the safety of your forest, but you have done so for me. Yes Bregion you are indeed worthy of my love and I give it to you freely.”

Bregion stared deeply into her beautiful eyes and saw the truth of her words. She really did love him. Despite his weaknesses, despite his failures, despite everything she loved him. A warmth and joy he had not felt in a very long time suddenly filled him. He reached out, took her into his arms, and held her close to him. He never wanted to let her go. He leaned back a little, reached up with one hand, and caressed her face. “I did not lie to you Gelireth,” he said quietly. “I do love you and I never want to let you go.” He leaned forward and gently kissed her. Gelireth sighed as his lips touched hers and she wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him closer to her. Bregion broke off the kiss, stood up, and picked her up in his arms. He carried her back to their camp and lay down with her. He reached over and grabbed his cloak covering them both up with it. He pulled Gelireth back into his arms and she laid her head on his chest. “I do not know how my little one, but somehow, I will make you mine for all eternity.”

Gelireth smiled up at him. “Come to my forest Bregion. You will like it there. My family would welcome you,” she said softly. “I cannot lose you now my love. I have fought too hard for you, and I refuse to lose you now.”

Bregion thought for a few minutes as he rubbed his hand up and down her back. “I do not know Gelireth,” he said still contemplating the idea. “I have not been among other elves in a long time, and I do not know if I can live among a large community again.”

Gelireth reached up with her hand and gently stroked his face. “We have time for you to think about it before we reach my home, but know this I will not lose you. If that means that I return with you to your forest, then so be it.” She leaned forward and kissed him. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her even closer to him. She leaned back when she ended the kiss and gently caressed his face.

Bregion thought he was drowning in the pools of her eyes and he gently rolled her over. “How could I have ever thought I could have left you?” he asked quietly as he kissed her again.

Gelireth grinned up at him, “I do not know, but I would definitely suggest you never let that thought enter that handsome head of yours again,” she teased.

Bregion laughed as he placed gentle tiny kisses along her neck. “Do not worry my love, I am afraid you are stuck with me now,” he said between kisses. Finally, he rolled back over, pulling Gelireth with him, and tucking her snug against his side. “We need to go to sleep now. We still have a long journey ahead of us, and we will need all the rest we can get,” he said as he stroked her back.

“Goodnight Bregion,” Gelireth said quietly. “I love you my handsome warrior.”

Bregion grinned and then said, “Goodnight my brave and beautiful she-elf.”

Gelireth leaned up on her arm for a moment and looked at him curiously, “Why did you call me brave?”

Bregion turned his head and looked at her with a grin on his face. “Because my little one, there has never been many elves willing to face my wrath. The fact that you came out of it unscathed is amazing. It took some real courage to not let me scare you away,” he said laughing lightly. “Now go to sleep my little one.” Gelireth snuggled close to Bregion and he wrapped her tight in his arm. Soon they were both asleep.

Gelireth slowly woke up as morning dawned. She stretched as she woke up and she felt Bregion gently tighten his arm around her. She looked up at him and saw him smiling at her. She grinned back and started to get up, but Bregion tightened his hold on her and gently flipped her over onto her back. “Just where do you think you are going in such a hurry?” he asked mischievously. Bregion leaned down and kissed her.

Gelireth wrapped her arms around his neck and returned the kiss. “I just thought I should prepare the morning meal,” she said when he broke off the kiss. “Of course I could be persuaded to wait just a short while,” she said grinning at him.

Bregion grinned, but then he groaned and pushed himself up. “As much as I would enjoy the persuading my little one, I think perhaps you are right. We need to get a meal prepared and then be on our way.” Bregion stood up and reached a hand out to help Gelireth up.

Gelireth smiled, took his hand, and stood up. She brushed some dirt off her clothes and then followed Bregion to fix some food. After they had finished eating, they quickly packed up their camp, mounted Faermorn, and continued following the river. “Is this the Sirion River we are following?” Gelireth asked.

“Yes it is,” Bregion answered. “We will follow it for a couple more days and then we should be able to see the borders of your forest,” he said.

Gelireth rode in silence for a few more minutes, but finally she decided to ask a question she had been curious about since last night when Bregion had told her what had happened to his family. “Bregion, I am curious about something,” she started. “I know you went to the forest to heal after your family was killed, but why did you stay there?”

Bregion tensed up with her question, but slowly he relaxed and let his thoughts drift for a few moments. “Like you said, I went to the forest first to heal,” he started. “By the time I was healed and able to travel again, I had made the forest a comfortable place to live. All of my kin was dead and there really was not anywhere left for me to go. Therefore, I just stayed there. I have left the forest for very little. After a while, I did not want to travel out beyond my borders.”

“Why not Bregion?” she asked. “There is still so much good out here. You could have found a life somewhere other than spending it all alone.”

Bregion sighed deeply. “I know Gelireth, but it just became my home. Do you like leaving your home?” he asked her.

Gelireth thought how to answer his question. “I have left my home many times Bregion. My brother and our cousins have traveled as far as Eglarest quite often. I love my home, do not get me wrong, but I also like seeing the world outside of the borders of our forest,” she said.

“What has your journey outside of your borders cost you though Gelireth?” Bregion asked quietly. “You have lost your guards, your cousin, and you were taken captive. What if I had not been in that forest, what would you have done then?” Bregion was not trying to be cruel, but he wanted to make her understand the dangers of being outside of where an elf knew they were safe. The lands and times were changing. Orcs and wolves were everywhere. Not the entire man race was kind; in fact, many that he had met were evil and looked out only for themselves.

Gelireth thought on his words. Sadness filled her as she thought of her cousin and the loss of the elves. She had not even thought of them for several days. She had been so busy fighting to get herself home, that she had put them from her mind. Now though, she thought on what it was going to be like to go home and not have her cousin there anymore. “I suppose to some extent you are correct Bregion, but I cannot lock myself away behind my borders. You are right, I have lost my cousin and several of our guards and I will miss them, but I still refuse to lock myself behind the shield of our forest. How long before the orcs invade our home again?” she asked. “They have attacked our borders many times, but we have some of the best guards and they have managed to kill them most of the time. The danger comes to us whether we stay hidden, or whether we live in freedom Bregion. Personally, I would like to live in freedom and without the fear of hiding behind a wall of guards that may some day fail to protect us.”

Bregion thought on her words for a few minutes. Then he smiled and laughed gently in her ear. “You are very wise for a she-elf Gelireth. Perhaps you are right. The dangers of our world are closing in closer every day. I will have to think on your words,” he said hugging her closer to him. He urged Faermorn into a faster pace and they quickly covered the ground. Faermorn loved running free as he had the last several days. The stallion stretched into a full run and tossed his head high. Gelireth was enjoying the power of the ride. Bregion held her close to him, and she had her hands wrapped in the black mane. Her blonde hair combined with Bregions black hair as they quickly covered the ground. She laughed aloud at the exhilaration she felt racing across the land on the powerful horse, while being held tight in Bregions arms. Bregion grinned as Gelireth laughed with excitement. He loved hearing her laugh.

After running for a while, Bregion pulled Faermorn into a slow trot laughing at Gelireths’ sigh of disappointment. “We need to take a break and let Faermorn rest,” Bregion said. Gelireth turned, smiled at Bregion, and nodded her head in agreement. Bregion jumped down from Faermorn and then helped Gelireth down. They worked together to fix a quick meal and then ate in silence. Gelireth kept smiling at Bregion as they ate until he could not stand it any longer. He stood up, took hold of Gelireth by the arms, and pulled her into his embrace.

Gelireth laughed as her warrior placed kisses on her face. “Bregion, we are supposed to be letting Faermorn rest,” she said laughing. “Not standing here kissing like we do not have another care in the world.”

Bregion grinned at her as he brushed some hair out of her face. “Faermorn is resting my little one, but I could not resist holding you in my arms again,” he said laughing.

Gelireth gently shoved at him playfully. “Bregion, you have had me in your arms all day long,” she said laughing. “Let me help pack everything up and then we should continue.”

Bregion watched as she walked away from him and started to gather their belongings again. He groaned as she gracefully walked around putting things into his pack. “Do you know you are going to be the death of me?” he asked.

Gelireth looked over at him as she put some fruit back into the pack. She was startled by the intensity of the look in his eyes. She stood still as Bregion slowly walked over to her and took the pack from her hands and set it on the ground. Then he took her into his arms again and kissed her.

“Bregion we are never going to get home if you continue to kiss me,” she said breathlessly.

Bregion looked at her as a moment of doubt flickered through his mind. “Is that the only thing you want Gelireth is just to go home?” he asked almost afraid of her answer.

Gelireth leaned against him and laid her head on his chest as she wrapped her arms around him. “No my love that is not the only thing I want, but right now I am eager to return home and see my family,” she said to him softly. She looked up at him hoping he would understand her need to get home.

Bregion grinned at her. He was pleased with her answer but he still did not want to let go of her. He tightened his hold around her and said, “Do not worry Gelireth; I will get you home soon.” Bregion still worried about going to a community full of elves again, but he had promised her he would get her home and he would not break his promise. Sighing deeply he removed his arms from around her and moved her back from him putting a small measure of space between them. “I suppose we should ride on. We still have several hours of daylight.” Bregion called Faermorn to them. They mounted him and rode off again.

Bregion cradled Gelireth in his arms as they rode, once again enjoying the exhilaration of riding at a fast pace. It was almost dark when Bregion again pulled Faermorn to a halt and dismounted. Gelireth slid down into his arms groaning as she did. “Are you alright,” he asked in concern.

Gelireth looked up at him sheepishly, “Yes I am fine, but some of the muscles in my body are not.” She blushed as he laughed at her.

“I am sorry Gelireth, it never occurred to me that the hard pace might make you sore,” he said tenderly. “I tell you what I will fix some food and you see if you can find yourself a nice private spot to bathe in the river,” he said.

Gelireth grinned. The thought of a bath did appeal to her and she quickly removed herself from his embrace to gather the items she would need. She started heading to the river when Bregion called out to her, “Do not go to far Gelireth. I do not want anything to happen to you.”

“I promise Bregion, I will only go as far as I need to have some privacy,” she said then she continued walking up the stream to find a private spot for a bath. She walked a little while until she found a spot surrounded by some large boulders that formed a pool fed by the water from the river. She looked around and did not see anybody in sight. She also suddenly realized how far she had walked from camp. She could just barely see it, but she was not worried. She was only going to take a bath, she thought to herself. She quickly climbed down the boulders and placed her belongings on a rock near the pool of water. She stood on a large, flat rock while she removed her clothes, and then she slipped into the pool of cool water. Gelireth enjoyed the feeling of the water across her skin as she quickly dunked her head under the water. She grabbed the soap she had brought from Bregions’ pack. She quickly scrubbed herself, and then she climbed out of the pool of water. She knew if she was gone too long that Bregion would start to worry about her and she did not need him coming over here while she was getting dressed. Quickly she pulled on her clothes and started to gather her stuff when she heard shouting. She pulled herself onto the rocks and saw there were several men surrounding their camp. Bregion stood in the middle of the camp with his sword drawn. The men continued riding their horses in a circle around the camp throwing taunts at Bregion.

Gelireth did not know what to do. She could not just sit here and do nothing, but neither could she watch while these men hurt Bregion and from the looks of things, that was indeed their plan. There were six men from what Gelireth could see, and a few of them had whips. They kept lashing them out at Bregion, but he easily dodged them or used his sword to block them. She watched him as he stood in a warrior’s stance waiting for the first real assault to come. What could she do to help, she wondered. She was debating on what to do when she heard a voice from behind her, “Well, what do we have here?” the man asked in a sneer. Gelireth turned as a man with long scraggly hair climbed onto the boulders across from her. She quickly jumped up from her spot and started running down the riverbank. The man quickly crossed the boulders and was soon on the ground following her. Gelireth screamed as he reached for her, but she swiftly turned directions and he missed her. “Now do not be a problem or there will be serious punishment for running,” the vile man said to her. Gelireth stared at him with wide eyes. Where could she run?

Bregion heard Gelireth scream and he knew he had to escape these men, or risk losing her forever. Fear and anger spurred his next movements. Quickly before the men could react, he turned and slashed the leg of one man with his sword. Just as quickly, he turned again and caught another man on his arm. Bregion felt the sting of a whip across his shoulders, but he did not care. He had to save Gelireth. Bregion whistled for Faermorn. If he could be mounted on his horse, he had a better chance of fighting these men and rescuing Gelireth. Faermorn suddenly charged through the men, hooves flying in the air as he barreled past the other horses. Bregion grabbed hold of his mane and swung himself up onto his back. Faermorn reared up, his hooves flailing at the man and horse in front of him. Once the man was out of the way, Bregion spurred Faermorn up the riverbank. There he saw Gelireth running as a man chased her. He rode past her and swung his sword at the man, and then he swiftly turned Faermorn around. The other men were following. He rode up to Gelireth, grabbed her around the waist, and then placed her in front of him. He held on tight to her as he turned Faermorn in the opposite direction of the men and put him into a hard run. Faermorn stretched as far as he could and soon put a lot of distance between them and the men. Bregion looked behind him. He could not see the men anymore, but he was not going to slow down. He urged Faermorn faster, and he held tight to Gelireth as they rode through the night. The sun had been up for several hours when he finally slowed Faermorn down. After letting the horse cool down some, he brought him to a halt and jumped down bringing Gelireth with him.

“Are you alright?” he asked her in concern.

Gelireth clung to him and nodded her head. “I am fine Bregion. Are you alright?” she finally asked him.

“I am fine, but Faermorn needs to rest,” Bregion turned to the horse who was breathing heavily from the hard ride. Bregion quickly ran his hands over the quivering horse and found there were no injuries. “We will let him rest for a little while, and then we will continue.”

Bregion turned to Gelireth. He had been so worried he was going to lose her that all he could do was pull her back into his arms. “I am glad you are safe my little one,” he said softly.

“I am fine Bregion. You saved me…” Gelireth stopped in mid-sentence as she saw the trees not too far in the distance. Gelireth held her breath and hugged Bregion tightly.

“What is wrong Gelireth?” Bregion asked in concern. He started looking her over for fear that she had been injured and he had missed it.

“Bregion, look behind you,” she finally said in excitement. Bregion turned and saw the forest behind them. He had been so concerned over their safety that he had not realized how close to her home they were. “You have done it Bregion,” she said hugging him again. “You have gotten us home.”

Bregion embraced her close to him as he looked at the forest that was only a matter of a short ride from where they were. Yes, he had gotten her home, but what was to become of them now, he wondered to himself. “We must let Faermorn rest for a little bit Gelireth then I can take you to your forest,” he said quietly.

“I know Bregion, but just to see my home again is so exciting,” she said. She smiled up at him and she reached up and kissed him. “I promise you will like it here. You will see,” she said.

Bregion looked at her and smiled. He did not want to spoil her happiness, but he was not certain of his acceptance in her world, but he did not trouble her with his thoughts on that. Instead, he freed himself from her embrace. He was going to get them something to eat when he realized his bag with all the food had been left at the camp where they had been attacked. “I am afraid we will have to wait until we reach the forest before eating Gelireth. My bag with food was left at the campsite.”

“That is alright Bregion. Once we are in the forest we will have plenty to eat,” she said smiling at him. She stood staring at the forest eager to be home, but she knew that Faermorn had worn himself out with the hard run throughout the night.

After a few hours of letting the horse rest, Bregion called to Gelireth, “Faermorn has rested enough now. We can go to the forest now.” Gelireth grinned at him and he held her in his arms for a moment before lifting her up on Faermorn. He stood staring at the forest again for a few moments, and then he too jumped up on the horse. They galloped across the open valley until they were in front of the forest. Bregion brought Faermorn to a halt just outside of the border.

“What is wrong Bregion?” Gelireth asked as she turned around and looked at him.

Bregion looked at her and then back at the forest. Taking a deep breath, he nudged Faermorn forward slowly. “Nothing is wrong my little one. I was just being foolish is all,” he said. Slowly they entered the forest. Bregion kept expecting guards to come out at them with arrows notched ready to shot them. He was surprised when not a single elf showed up. “Where are the guards you said protected your borders?” he asked confused.

Gelireth laughed softly and laid a hand on his arm. “Do not worry my love they are here, and they are watching us even now. However, they can see I am with you and so you have been given safe passage. There is a good place to rest for the evening up ahead. Then tomorrow we can finish making the journey to my home,” she explained. They soon reached a small clearing with a large hollowed out tree in the middle of it. “Stop here Bregion,” she said.

Bregion stopped Faermorn, jumped down, and then helped Gelireth down. “Where are we?” he asked.

Gelireth laughed softly for a moment. “Believe it or not, this is the place where my mother and father meet so many years ago. She stayed here her first night in this forest,” she told him. “It is usually well stocked and we will find blankets and food inside the hollowed tree.” She started walking to the tree when she heard a noise from behind her.

“Gelireth is that really you?” she heard called out in excitement.

Gelireth turned and watched as Garavon ran up to her. He threw his arms around her and swung her around. “Put me down,” she said through her laughter.

“We thought you were lost to us. We search everywhere for you, but we could not find you,” Garavon said as he set her back on the ground.

Bregion watched the exchange through narrowed eyes. Who was the elf that treated her like a lost love, he wondered. He realized he was jealous of him. Perhaps though he was one of the brothers she spoke of having. Bregion stood watching as the two embraced again.

“Garavon, I have someone I want you to meet,” she said as she led Garavon to Bregion. “This is Bregion. He saved my life. It is because of him that I have been returned home,” she said. “Bregion, this is my cousin Garavon.”

The two elves studied each other for a few minutes, and then Garavon reached out his hand in friendship. “We owe you a great debt of gratitude Bregion. The whole community was lost without Gelireth, and I thank you for bringing her home safely,” Garavon said.

Bregion finally reached out and clasped hands with the other elf, but he did not say anything. “Gelireth, we need to rest so that we can make the rest of the journey home tomorrow,” he said as he turned to her.

“I know Bregion, give me just a moment more,” she said and then turned back to Garavon. “Garavon watch the borders closely. Last night we were attacked by several men. Bregion saved us, but they may still be following our trail.”

“Do not worry cousin,” Garavon said as he brushed a hand across her cheek. “You are home now and safe within the borders. I promise nothing shall hurt you here.” With that said Garavon looked at Bregion again, and then he turned and headed back for his post.

Gelireth led Bregion into the hollowed out tree. Inside she found them some food and they sat down at a small table and ate quietly. Afterwards, she found them some blankets and they lay down to sleep. Gelireth curled up next to Bregion and he wrapped his arms around her. “I thought you might not sleep next to me now that you are home,” he said a little surprised.

“Why would you think that my love?” she asked. “Just because we are home, does not change the fact that I love you. I have gotten use to curling up in your strong arms Bregion and I can not imagine not doing so just because we are home.”

Bregion brushed a hand across her check, and then he rolled her over and looked down at her. “I love you Gelireth, but you do realize that I may not be able to stay here?” he asked her. She had to know that he might leave. Whether she chose to leave with him or stay here depended on her, but she had to know the truth.

“I know Bregion,” she said softly. She reached up and ran her fingers through his long black hair. “We will cross that path when we come to it, but for now, you are here and I am here. Nothing else matters,” she said softly.

Bregion closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against hers. “What did I ever do to deserve your love?” he finally asked.

Gelireth grinned at him. “You took me for a moonlight ride, my handsome warrior, and you have saved my life three times now. However, the moonlight ride is what won my heart,” she said laughing.

Bregion grinned at her. “I think I might have to make a point of taking you on more moonlight rides then my little one if that is the cause for you to love me so much,” he said. Then he leaned down and brushed his lips across hers. He was getting ready to lie back again, but Gelireth tightened her hold around his neck.

“Is that the best you can do?” she asked mischievously. “The last time I checked, you were able to kiss a lot better than that.” Gelireth grinned at the stunned look on his face.

Bregion did not need to be asked twice. He pulled her into a tight embrace, and then he thoroughly kissed her. “Was that better?” he asked still placing little kisses along her neck.

Gelireth moved her hands over his strong back as he continued to place kisses on he neck. “Oh yes my love, that was much better,” she said breathlessly. “Bregion I love you,” she said quietly hugging him close to her.

“I think perhaps I should practice this kissing part more often my little one,” Bregion teased. “You are much more compliant.” Bregion laughed as she gently punched him in the chest. He rolled over and pulled her with him so that her head rested on his shoulder. “Go to sleep love. Tomorrow you will be home with your family.”

“As long as I am in your arms Bregion, I am always home,” she whispered. Then she closed her eyes and was soon asleep. Bregion lay there with her curled up in his arms thinking on her words for a few minutes. Eventually the long ride through the night, and having arrived at her home today, caused him to fall into a deep restful sleep.

Gelireth woke up to Bregion gently caressing her face. “Good morning my little one,” he said.

Gelireth smiled up at him and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Good morning my love,” she said as he leaned down to kiss her.

“I hate to interrupt,” Garavon said sarcastically from the entryway, “But we need to leave to get my cousin home to her family.” Garavon took in the scene of Gelireth and Bregion wrapped in each other’s arms and scowled. He would not say anything for now, but he knew a lot would be said about it once she was home.

Bregion and Gelireth looked over at Garavon. “We will be ready to leave in a few moments,” Bregion told him. He did not get up nor let Gelireth out of his embrace. Instead, he looked at Garavon waiting for him to leave. When he did not leave Bregion said, “If you would like us to prepare to leave, then I would suggest that you wait for us outside.”

Garavon glared at the dark elf, but he turned to leave the hollowed out tree. As he did he said, “I will be waiting right outside here. We need to leave within the next few minutes if we plan to make it to the valley of horses before dark.”

Bregion watched as Garavon walked out of the hollowed out tree. “I do not think your cousin likes me,” he said grinning.

“He just needs to get to know you Bregion. You will see everything will be alright,” she said.

Bregion stood up and helped her up. Gelireth picked up their blankets, folded them, and placed them neatly in a chest. They walked out into the forest together. Garavon had Faermorn and his own horse ready to leave.

“Gelireth, you can ride with me to the community,” Garavon said.

Bregion tensed up but calmly said, “She will be riding with me.”

“I think it is better if my cousin rides with me Bregion,” Garavon said stiffly. “I appreciate all that you have done to return my cousin home to us, but…”

Bregion stepped forward, took the young elf by the collar of his shirt, and held him against a tree. “I said Gelireth will ride with me. She has been riding with me for many days now, and as you can see she has come to no harm because of it,” he said in a low menacing voice.

“Bregion, let Garavon go please,” Gelireth pleaded. “Garavon, I will ride with Bregion.”

Bregion let Garavon go and turned to place Gelireth on Faermorn. He watched as the younger elf glared at him, but he did not say anything else to him. Bregion jumped up on the horse behind Gelireth and wrapped his arm around her. He gave Garavon a look to dare him to say anything about it.

Garavon glared at the dark elf that seemed to be not only protective, but also very possessive of his cousin. He finally decided there was not much he could do, but they would be home soon and then Gelireths’ father would put an end to Bregion. Garavon grinned slightly at the thought and took off across the forest.

“I am sorry Bregion, he is just being protective,” Gelireth said as they started across the forest.

Bregion laughed softly and placed a kiss on the top of her head, “Do not worry my little one, I can handle him. Besides it is not his place to protect you anymore.”

Gelireth glanced back at Bregion with mischief in her eyes, “So whose job is it to be protective of me then my love?”

“Mine,” he said. “You are mine to protect now my little one, and I am not worried about that young hot headed cousin of yours.”

“Who says I need protecting?” Gelireth asked a little irritated.

“You may not need it, but if you should, I will be the one doing the protecting,” Bregion said. He leaned forward, pulling Gelireth tighter against his chest, and the placed a kiss on the side of her neck.

Gelireth grinned as she thought how much she loved this elf. She was amazed at how much he had changed since she had first met him, but in her opinion, he had changed for the better. Gelireth laughed as Bregion urged Faermorn into a hard run. They soon passed by Garavon and she laughed as she heard him calling them. She pointed Bregion to the path to follow that would take them straight to the valley of horses. After riding hard for a short while, they stopped to let Garavon catch up with them. Gelireth laughed at her cousins’ scowl, but he did not say anything and they rode the rest of the way together with Gelireth or Bregion occasionally laughing at something the other said.

The sun was setting as Serondrych finished putting away his tools he used to groom the horses. He was just turning to go to the community when he saw riders coming across the valley. It was not hard for him to recognize his brother Garavon, but he did not recognize the other rider. As they drew closer though, he saw the blonde hair blowing in the wind and the beautiful she-elf riding with the stranger. Serondrych quickly grabbed the nearest elf. “Quickly, go get my Uncle Thalion and Aunt Durelleth,” he said excitedly. “Tell them Gelireth is home!” The elf quickly ran to the community as he had been instructed and Serondrych waited for the riders to arrive.

As they rode through the valley of horses, Gelireth felt her excitement building. She would be home in a matter of moments and she would soon be seeing all of her family. They came to a halt as they reached the end of the valley and Serondrych was waiting there for them.

“Gelireth,” he said. “You are home!” Some more elves took the horses as Garavon, Bregion, and Gelireth jumped down from the horses. Gelireth threw herself into her cousins’ arms hugging him.

“Serondrych, I have missed you,” she exclaimed as they hugged each other. Gelireth turned to Bregion, “Bregion, this is my other cousin Serondrych. Serondrych, this is Bregion. He rescued me and brought me home.”

Serondrych reached out his hand in friendship to Bregion. “I am glad to meet you Bregion, and welcome to The Forest of Brethil. We owe you a serious debt of gratitude for saving Gelireth,” he said.

Bregion clasped hands with him and said, “You do not owe me anything. I was glad to have saved her.”

“I have already sent word to your parents Gelireth and they will probably meet us on the way,” Serondrych said leading them into the community. They were just arriving into the community when Thalion and Durelleth meet up with them.

Gelireth threw herself into her fathers’ arms. “Father, I am so happy to see you. I have missed you,” she said. Then she turned to her mother also hugging her. Soon they were surrounded by other elves greeting her and hugging her. Bregion had stayed in the background as he watched the entire community of elves gather around Gelireth to welcome her home. He watched as another she-elf walked out of a house nearby to see what all the commotion was about, and then she was running across the community calling out Gelireths’ name.

Gelireth turned as she heard her name called by a familiar voice. “Mirwen?” she asked. Seeing Mirwen, she ran and greeted her cousin and they hugged each other. “I thought you were dead,” Gelireth said between tears and hugs. “Since you were not taken captive and I could not see you as we were leaving, I thought they had killed you also.”

“Curuon was able to save me,” she said. “I thought we would never see you again. Half of the community went looking for you, but they lost the trail and were not able to find you. We thought you were lost to us forever.”

By this time, the entire community was out there celebrating the return of Gelireth. Her grandparents were leading the family up to the main house, but Bregion had stayed back unsure of where he belonged among this group of strangers. Suddenly, he heard his name called.

“Bregion is that you?” he heard.

Bregion turned to the voice and found Sirion standing close by. “Sirion my friend, it has been a very long time since I have seen you,” he said smiling.

“Indeed it has. How is your family doing? I have not seen nor heard anything from them in many years,” Sirion said.

Bregions eyes clouded over as he remembered the days when Sirion had visited them. His family and Sirion had been good friends. They had met when Sirion was on a mission for the Lord of the forest. “I am sad to say that my family is all dead,” Bregion said.

“I am sorry to hear that Bregion. Come with me and we will talk a while,” Sirion said. “Then you can also tell me how you rescued my granddaughter.”

“Gelireth is your granddaughter?” Bregion asked in astonishment.

Sirion laughed, “Yes she is. Other than a quick hug though, she has been stolen by the community, so I have not really had a chance to talk to her yet. However, you can explain everything while the rest of the family visits,” he said leading Bregion to his house. “Come inside and we will talk while we eat.”

Bregion looked back for Gelireth, but she was still surrounded by family and friends, so he followed Sirion into his home. They spent several hours talking about the past, his family, and how he had rescued Gelireth.

The excitement of Gelireths’ return had finally settled down and the elves returned to their homes for the evening. Gelireth had looked around but could not find Bregion, and she was concerned about what had happened to him. She had told her family all about how he had rescued her in the forest and from the attacks on the way home. Her father was eager to meet him, but he could not be found.

“Perhaps he has found a quiet place to rest Gelireth,” Thalion said to his daughter.

“He would not have done so with out at least telling me goodnight father,” Gelireth insisted.

“It sounds to me like you care for this elf more than what you have told us in your tale,” Thalion said looking closely at his daughter.

“You are right father, I love him,” she said without hesitation.

“Does he love you?” Thalion asked.

Gelireth grinned at her father, “Yes father, he loves me. That is why I do not know where he could be.” Gelireth and Thalion were walking along the riverbank talking.

“Will he remain here in our community Gelireth, or is he planning on leaving?” Thalion asked.

Gelireth turned and looked at her father. “I do not know for certain yet father, but I do know this, even if he does not remain here I am going with him when he leaves.” Gelireth watched as several emotions crossed her fathers face and she said, “I know you would not like me to leave the community father, but I love him. I could never love another. Please understand.”

Thalion listened to his daughters plea, but the agony of losing his daughter again was killing him, “I do not know if I can allow that Gelireth. This is your home. Your family is here, not off in some forest all alone. I will have to think about this Gelireth, but I do not like the idea of you leaving your home for this elf.”

“I agree with you,” they heard from behind them. Gelireth and Thalion turned around to see Bregion returning from the valley of the horses.

“Bregion I have been looking for you,” Gelireth said as she wrapped her arms around him.

Bregion held her close and placed a kiss on her forehead. “I was checking on Faermorn to make sure he was comfortable. He seems to have found a few friends among the herd of horses out there,” he said laughing softly. He watched Thalion over the top of Gelireths’ head, and he knew the time for him to make his decision was near.

“Gelireth, go to the house with your mother while Bregion and I talk,” Thalion said.

“No father, I plan to stand right here and be a part of this conversation,” she said. “This is my future that is being discussed and I have every right to be a part of it.”

Thalion watched as his daughter moved closer to Bregion. He realized that no matter what he said or did, his daughter was in love with this elf and nothing was going to change that. To refuse to let her leave with him if he chose would destroy her, and the love she had for him. He could not do it. Sighing deeply and shaking his head, he looked at Bregion. “First let me tell you how much I appreciate you saving my daughter,” Thalion began. “However, my next question is what your plans are now?”

Bregion held Gelireth against his side as he stared at her father. “I would like to marry your daughter,” he said. “I know the big question going through your mind right now though is, will I stay here or will I return to my forest, am I correct?”

Thalion laughed quietly. “Yes Bregion that is the real question I want answered. I already know you want to marry by daughter. That is easy to see. I can see my daughter loves you very much, and I can see that you love her very much. I give my permission for the marriage; there is not a problem there. I would like to know though, will you live here, or will you take our daughter away from us?”

“I will be honest with you, I do not know yet,” Bregion answered with a sigh. “It has been a very long time since I have been in a large community of elves, but I have discovered that I have an old friend here. Sirion was friends with my family a very long time ago.” Bregion thought for a few moments and then said, “I promise to have an answer for you by the time of the wedding.”

Thalion nodded his head and then said, “Please consider staying here Bregion. You are welcome to live here among us, but I would hate to lose my daughter again. However, I will await your answer.” Thalion watched the couple for a few minutes longer, and then he walked back home to tell Durelleth about his conversation.

Gelireth turned to Bregion, “Bregion, please give it some time. You will like living here,” she said softly. “I know you need to get use to being around other elves again, but please try. I love you, but I also love my family and I do not want to lose either of you.”

Bregion pulled her into his arms. “I promise Gelireth, I will try,” he whispered, “But I cannot promise what the outcome will be.”

Gelireth leaned against a tree smiling as she watched her grandfather, Melbenion, and Bregion work with the younger elves as they practiced. Bregion had started to teach the younger elves sword practice, while Melbenion and her grandfather continued to teach them how to improve on their skill with a bow. They had been home for over a month now and their wedding was to take place in a few days, but Bregion still had not decided whether they were going to stay here in Brethil, or return to his forest. Gelireth leaned back as her father walked up and put his arms around her shoulders.

“Has Bregion decided yet if he is going to stay here?” he asked her.

Gelireth continued to watch Bregion for a few more moments, and then she turned around to her father. “No he has not said yet father. I am going with him in a few minutes to look at the home the community has helped build for us. I am going to ask him when we do that,” she said.

“I hope he decides to stay Gelireth,” Thalion said as he brushed a hand across her face. “I would miss having my daughter live her with us.” Thalion stared at his daughter for a few moments then looked back at Bregion as he finished working with one of the young elves. Bregion patted the young elf on the back and laughed as he said something. He walked over to Sirion and talked to him for a few moments, and then he heading in the direction of where Gelireth and Thalion were waiting.

“Hello Gelireth,” he said grinning as she slipped into his embrace. “Hello Thalion,” he said greeting Thalion.

“Hello Bregion. I think I will go now and leave you two alone,” Thalion said as he watched his daughter in Bregions arms. “I have some other business to attend to.”

“I will talk to you later father,” Gelireth said as her father walked away, and then she turned to Bregion. “I have something I want to show you,” she said excitedly.

“What would that be my little one?” Bregion asked.

“It is a surprise,” Gelireth said grinning at him mischievously.

Bregion looked at her with doubt in his eyes, but a glint of humor was in them. “Then lead on my little one. I will follow you,” he said.

Gelireth took Bregions hand and they walked up a path leading to the edge of the community. She followed a platform path that led into a tree, and then into a house using the tree and foliage to create a house. They walked into the first large room and Bregion looked around. He did not say anything as he followed Gelireth through the house looking in the other small rooms.

“What do you think?” Gelireth asked as they finished walking through the house and walked back out into the main room.

Bregion was quiet as he walked over to one of the windows that over looked the community. “Is this supposed to be for us?” he asked quietly.

“Of course it is,” she answered. “You can not live at my grandfathers’ house forever, and since we are getting married in a few days, I would really prefer to have a house of our own.” Gelireth watched as Bregion stared out of the window. She could see his back was tense, but she did not know what thoughts were going through his mind. “Do you like it?” she asked hopefully. “The whole community helped build it.”

Bregion turned to face Gelireth. “It is lovely Gelireth,” he said. He continued looking around the home, and then he turned and walked out of the house.

“Bregion wait,” Gelireth called out to him as he walked out. “What is wrong?”

Bregion stopped, turned to look at her, and then back at the house. “Why was the house built Gelireth? Were you so certain that I would not leave Brethil?” he asked angrily.

Gelireth stopped confused by his anger. “I already told you Bregion, that I would go with you if you decide you do not want to stay here. The house was built for us for if we do stay. It was built out of love by my people as a gift,” she said quietly. “It was not meant to trap you here Bregion, but to welcome you here.”

Bregion glared at Gelireth for a few moments, and then he turned to walk to the valley of horses. Once he reached there, he called for Faermorn, jumped on him, and took off riding across the valley and into the forest.

Gelireth stood where he had left her in too much shock of his anger to decide what to do. She did not understand why he had reacted so angrily, or what she was supposed to do to make him understand that he was not being trapped here. Tears rolled down her face as she realized he was leaving. She wanted to go after him, to call him back, but she could not do it.

Thalion had seen Bregion leave. He found his daughter standing where Bregion had left her. He gently took her into his arms and held her as she cried. “I do not understand father,” she said between sobs.

Thalion sighed heavily. He had worried that this would happen, but he was not willing to break his daughters’ heart to tell her so. “I do not either Gelireth,” he said as he tried to comfort his daughter. “Tomorrow I will have everything cancelled for the wedding,” he said softly.

Gelireth pulled away from her father shaking her head. “No father, I know he will be back,” she said. Tears still covered her face, but as she looked at her father, she smiled just a little bit. “Bregion loves me father, I know he does. He will come back.”

“Gelireth you do not know that. He has left,” he said. He did not want to hurt his daughter any further, but he had to make her understand that Bregion had chosen to leave.

“You are wrong father,” she said stubbornly. “I know Bregion and I say he will be back. You will see,” she said. “He will be back.” Gelireth looked once more at her father, and then she turned and ran back to her home.

The days moved slowly for Gelireth. She continued preparing for the wedding sure that Bregion would come back. She ignored the looks of sympathy and pity that she received from the other members of the community. She had gone to the house that had been built for her and Bregion every day. She had the table that had been carved for them placed in the main room, their bed in the room they would share. She continued with everything sure that he would return.

It was the night before she was supposed to marry Bregion and Gelireth was walking along the banks of the River Teiglin. The moon was bright and shone on the river. Everything was prepared she thought to herself, but Bregion had not returned. She was beginning to think her father was right. Bregion was not returning. The thought brought tears to her eyes and she sat down on a log next to the river. She turned as she heard her mother approach and sit down on the log next to her.

“I wish I knew the words to say to you right now Gelireth,” she said softly. “I know you believed he would return, but I am afraid it does not look like it daughter.”

Gelireth started crying and leaned into her mothers’ arms. “I know mother. I was so certain he would return,” she said. “I thought he loved me, I thought he would come back for me, I thought many things that would seem I was wrong about.”

“I know Gelireth, I know,” she said holding her daughter in her arms. Durelleth felt so helpless. She wanted to make her daughter happy again, but she did not know how. “Come home and rest Gelireth.”

“I will come home in a short while mother,” Gelireth said as she sat up and removing herself from her mothers arms. “I just need some time alone right now.” Gelireth smiled weakly at her mother. “I am fine mother, I promise. I just really need to be alone right now.”

Durelleth stood up and smiled down at her daughter. “I understand Gelireth. I will be at the house if you need me,” she said, and then she turned and walked back to her home.

Gelireth watched her mother walk away. She wanted to crawl back into her mothers’ arms and cry, but she knew she had brought this misery on herself. She stood up and walked to the house that had been meant for her and Bregion. She lit a small lantern and walked into the house. Lovingly, she ran her hand over the table she had carved for their home. It had a horse galloping through a valley under a waterfall, and she remembered the night she and Bregion had rode Faermorn through the valley. She continued to walk through the house and into the room she would have shared with him. In the corner hung the dress that her mother, grandmother, and several of the other she-elves in the community had helped her make. She set the lantern down on a table next to the bed and walked to the corner where her dress hung. She lightly fingered the material and marvel at how light it felt. The shoulders of the dress were designed to fall off her shoulders, and it had a fitted bodice with a silver belt that wrapped around it three times before tying in the front with tassels hanging half way down the front of the dress. The sheer lightweight material was white and so light that even though there were several layers to the dress, it still felt like a gentle breeze blowing across her body when she wore it. The dress had the traditional tiny silver leaves sewn all over the dress, and the train of the dress was long and flowing behind the dress. Her mother had made a beautiful headdress out of a silver leafed circlet with the sheer white material flowing all the way down the length of the dress. Gelireth turned from the dress as tears again started flowing down her face. She could not look at the delicate dress any longer. It reminded her of too many hopes and dreams lost. She walked over to a large wooden chest and opened it. Inside laid a smaller wooden box that she had the carver make for her. It had Bregions name carved into it, with small vines and leaves surrounding his name. Inside laid an item she was not even sure she could look at. Gelireth sat on the edge of the bed that was meant for her and Bregion to share on their wedding night. She sat there debating whether she wanted to look at the item inside of the box. Inside was a gift she had planned to give to him as a wedding gift, but now it would seem she would never be able to give it to him. She clutched the wooden box to her chest and started crying. She felt like her world had fallen apart and she did not know how to put the pieces back together again. She was unable to stop the flow of tears this time. All of her hopes and dreams were lost. How could she ever manage to continue with life?

“I hope you do not get our new bed all soaking wet with those tears,” she heard from the doorway.

Gelireth held her breath afraid to move. She was sure if she did, that she would find it was all in her imagination and that Bregion would not really be there.

Bregion walked over to the edge of the bed and knelt down in front of her. “Look at me please Gelireth,” he asked softly. When she did not look up at him, he gently placed his hand under her chin and lifted her face so he could see her. “Please do not cry my little one,” he pleaded with her. “I am home now, and I promise to never leave again.”

Gelireth looked at her handsome warrior and saw the look of weariness on his face. She let the wooden box drop to the floor as she reached out and hugged him close to her. She did not want to let him go for fear he would leave again and not return. Bregion wrapped his arms around Gelireth holding her tight. “Do not worry Gelireth, I am not leaving again,” he promised.

Gelireth leaned back to look at him in the eyes. She saw the truth in his eyes. He had come home to stay. “Where have you been Bregion? I told father that you would come home, I knew you would, but by this evening, I was even beginning to doubt it,” she said.

Bregion stood up and walked to the window in the bedroom. He stared out while he thought of the last few days. “I went back to the forest Gelireth,” he answered honestly. “When I left here, I did not think I would return, but going back to the forest taught me something.”

“What did you learn Bregion? What happened to make you leave?” Gelireth asked in confusion.

Bregion turned away from the window, walked back to where she was sitting on the bed, and knelt down in front of her again. “I left here for many reasons Gelireth. For one, I was not sure this could become my home, but when you showed me the house the elves of your community had built for us, I suddenly realized that I was being made a part of this community whether I wanted to or not. So I left, but once I reached the forest, nothing was the same there,” he explained. “I rode Faermorn across the valley in the moonlight, but I took no pleasure in it because you were not there to enjoy the ride with me. I went to the pool where you use to bathe, but all I could see was you swimming in the pool. So I returned to the camp, and I tried to pretend that everything was the same, but all I could hear was the quietness of the forest and I realized something.”

“What did you realize Bregion?” she asked quietly.

“I realized that without you, my life was meaningless,” he said. “I realized that though I do not know how it happened, I had come to care about the people of your home. I realized, I had to come back home.” Bregion wiped a tear that was running down Gelireths check. “If it is not too late Gelireth, I still want to marry you. I would understand if you said no after the way I left, but I love you and I love our home. Will you still marry me tomorrow my little one?” Bregion held his breath waiting for her answer. He was afraid he had lost her, but he had to try. His life was empty without her and all that mattered was that she would forgive him and still marry him.

Gelireth grinned as she threw her arms around his neck. “Yes Bregion, I will still marry you. I love you and have loved you since we met,” she said breathlessly. “I am glad that you have found your home here. I am glad you have learned that we are willing to make you a part of our lives. Promise me you will never disappear again.”

Bregion hugged her tightly not wanting to let her go again. “I promise Gelireth, I will never leave here again. Of course, we may still take a few moonlight rides,” he said mischievously.

“I would love the moonlight rides, as long as you are with me,” she said.

Bregion stood up and sat down on the bed next to her. As he did, he saw the wooden box she had dropped on the floor, and he leaned down to pick it up. “What is this?” he asked holding the box. He saw his name carved into it in beautiful flowing elvish letters with vines and leaves surrounding it.

“That is a gift I had made for you,” she said. “I had planned to give it to you as a wedding gift.”

Bregion held the beautiful wooden box in his hand, and then asked, “May I look now, or do I have to wait until tomorrow?”

Gelireth thought for a moment the answered, “Open it now Bregion. I hope you like it.”

Bregion slowly opened the lid to the box and sat in silence as he stared at the object lying inside of it. “You had this made for me?” he finally asked.

“Yes my love,” Gelireth said. “All the people of our forest wear the silver leaf in one way or another. Some wear the design on their bows, others on their swords, and yet others wear a silver leaf necklace,” she explained. “I had this necklace made just for you.” Gelireth reached into the box, took out the necklace, and put it around his neck. It had two silver leaves wrapped around each other with vines interwoven around them. The necklace itself was made of a strong black cord with a silver leaf fastener at the back of it.

Once Gelireth had placed it around his neck, he stood up and walked over to the mirror that was standing next to the large chest and desk in their room. He admired the necklace for several minutes before he turned back to Gelireth with a warm smile. “Thank you Gelireth,” he said softly. “Now I truly feel like a part of this community. I have at long last found a place to call home.” He walked over to Gelireth and stood her up. He wrapped his arms around her, and kissed her. He had missed kissing her, holding her, and talking to her.

“I just remembered something,” Gelireth said as he ended the kiss.

“What is wrong my little one?” he asked suddenly concerned.

“I have to tell father that you are home, and that there will indeed be a wedding tomorrow,” she said.

Bregion laughed softly. “Do not worry, I saw Serondrych when I arrived at the valley of horses. He had an elf take a message to your father that I had returned and that we would be getting married tomorrow.”

Gelireth grinned up at him, “You were that sure of yourself were you?” she asked teasing him.

“To be honest with you no, I was not sure you would still have me after the way I left here, but I was hoping you would,” he said.

Gelireth laid her head against his chest as he wrapped her tighter into her embrace. “I could never turn you away. I told you Bregion, you own my heart,” she said softly.

Bregion kissed her gently on the top of her head, and then he picked her up and laid her on the bed. He lay down next to her and then pulled her into his embrace. Gelireth laid her head on his chest and wrapped her arm around him.

“Go to sleep my little one,” he said softly. “I will stay here all night and hold you. Then tomorrow, I will make you mine for all eternity.” Gelireth smiled against his chest as she thought of the wonderful things that awaited them with the dawning of the new day. She would marry the elf she loved so much and would spend her life showing him how much she loved him.

“I really hate to disturb the two of you,” Gelireth heard as she started to wake up. “But if we are going to have a wedding today, you both need to get up and start preparing. The day is already late.” Gelireth opened her eyes and found her father leaning against the doorway into their room. She blushed as she realized she was still lying in Bregions arms.

“I am sorry father, we will be up and ready in a few minutes,” she said.

“You had better hurry,” Thalion said. “Your mother has been looking all over for you so she could help you prepare. There are only a few hours left until the wedding and if she does not get started soon, she will not be happy. Personally, I do not wish to argue with your mother today,” he said grinning.

Gelireth laughed softly. “I promise father, we will be there in a few minutes. Tell mother I am on my way,” she said. Gelireth watched as her father left the room.

Bregion suddenly opened his eyes and looked at the doorway. “Is he gone?” he asked.

Gelireth laughed. She knew he was awake while her father had been standing there talking to her, but she had not said anything. “Yes Bregion, my father has left. At least for the moment,” she said still laughing. “If we do not hurry though, I promise he will return for us, and then you will not be able to pretend to be asleep.”

Bregion grinned at her. “Who said I was pretending?” he asked softly laughing.

“I do,” she answered him. “You woke up the moment he walked into the room, and there is no need to deny it. Your breathing changed when you woke up.”

Bregion laughed. “Alright, I give in. I was awake, but at least he did not know that. He probably would have had a few choice words for me. First, I disappear, and then I come home and he finds me tucked into bed with his daughter. Not a good way to make an impression on the father of my future wife,” he said.

Gelireth laughed as she sat up. “Perhaps not, but what is done is done. Now we have to get up and get ready for our wedding my love,” she said as she started to stand up from the bed.

“Do I have to?” he asked grinning as he pulled her back onto the bed with him. “I would much rather lie here and kiss you.”

Gelireth gave him a brief kiss then removing his hands from her she said, “Yes we have to, otherwise father will return and drag us out of bed.”

Bregion moaned as he threw his arms over his face. “I can see now, that it will not be easy to have you all to myself anymore will it?” he asked.

“I promise, once the wedding is over, you can have me all to yourself, but for now I have to go find mother so she can help me to prepare for the wedding,” she said as she started to walk from the room. “If I was you, I would get up and start preparing also, otherwise you might just end up with my father, brothers, and Uncle in here pulling you out of that bed,” she said laughing at him. Gelireth laughed as she left the room and heard him complaining about never having another moment of peace in his life. Fortunately, she knew he was teasing and was just as eager as she was to get married.

Gelireth spent the rest of the afternoon with her mother and several other she-elves preparing for the wedding. The community worked to prepare the feast that was to take place after the ceremony. Bregion was being helped by her father, brothers, and uncle to prepare for the wedding. Often during the day, she wondered what he was doing, but she would push the thought aside and concentrate on getting ready. She was excited, and yet nervous all at the same time. Finally, the time arrived for the wedding. Her mother had helped to plait her down her back before putting the headdress on her. Gelireth stood and stared in the mirror. She remember how just last night she had not thought she would ever wear this beautiful gown, yet here she was all dressed and ready for her wedding.

“You are beautiful my daughter,” she heard her father say from the doorway. “Is everybody in here ready?”

“Yes, we are all ready here Thalion,” Durelleth answered. “Is Bregion ready?”

Thalion laughed. “He is most definitely ready my love,” he said as he took his wife into his arms. “I am afraid we have given him a bit of a hard time today though,” he said guiltily.

“Father what have you done?” Gelireth asked worried that they had caused an argument with Bregion.

Thalion left the embrace of his wife to walk to his daughter. “I promise Gelireth,” he said laughing, “We did not do too much to him. We mostly teased him while getting him ready. I swear.”

Gelireth looked at her father doubtfully. “I will find out from him later father, I promise you,” she said grinning.

“Shall we go?” Thalion asked as he offered her his arm.

Grinning at her father she said, “Yes, we had better go.”

Durelleth and the other she-elves left ahead of them and waited with the community for Gelireth to arrive accompanied by her father. Bregion stood at the front of the group of elves looking extremely nervous. He had put on some black pants with a silver shirt and his black calf high boots. He had a silver leafed belt wrapped around his waist and somebody had helped him to braid the sides of his hair so that it lay neatly below his shoulders. As Gelireth approached with her father, Bregion turned and looked at her. He was stunned by her beauty in the soft flowing dress, and it was all he could do to accept her hand from her father. As Gelireth looked at Bregion, admiring her handsome warrior, she noticed that around his neck he still wore the necklace she had given him. She smiled brightly at him as the ceremony began.

Shortly after the ceremony, everybody turned to the tables that had been set up for the feast. After Gelireth and Bregion were settled in their seats, she leaned over and whispered to him. “I am glad you wore the necklace my love. It looks very good on you,” she said.

Bregion grinned at her. “Is the necklace the only thing that looked good to you my wife?” he asked with a gleam in his eyes.

Gelireth laughed. “No my love there were a few other things I thought were very handsome,” she said. “But I definitely liked the necklace.”

Bregion started laughing. “I am glad you like it. It was a special gift from the most beautiful she-elf I have ever met,” he said.

Gelireth looked into her husbands eyes. “It is interesting my love,” she said seriously.

“What is that?” he asked.

“How a journey to take a gift to some friends, has brought me more happiness than I had ever anticipated,” she said. “It is almost as if destiny had played a part in our lives. All we had to do was to enjoy the trip to reach the end.”

“No my love, not to reach the end,” he said staring into the eyes of his beautiful wife, “Destiny may have put us together, but I intend to make sure it is not the end, but the beginning my little one. It is the beginning of much happiness for the both of us.”

Gelireth smiled at her husband, and then she leaned over and kissed him. She decided that it did not matter. Whether destiny brought them together or not, she was going to enjoy her life with her handsome warrior.


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