A white fume rose gradually from the cup. The sound of tea dripping into the intricate tea sets was clear and crisp. The intricate elven tableware looked ever so appealing to the eyes. Leguna felt the urge to steal a few. He wondered how much two could sell for.
“This is a beverage made by our race. It is made by dipping the leaf of plants into hot water, just like the tea you humans drink. However, the taste is slightly different. Do try some,” explained Eiron with a tone fitting of a pleasant adult, not having the slightest idea about the youth’s thoughts.
“Oh, thank you, Elder Eiron.”
After spending two days in the settlement, Leguna had come to know that Eiron was the most beloved elder in the whole settlement. He also learned that Eiron was over 500 years old. Even his great great great great grandfather would consider the elf old.
That was why he was so respectful in the elf’s presence. He didn’t dare to give free reign to his long fingers. He behaved as respectful as he could, like an obedient child, in front of Eiron.
He only realized how hot the drink was after he had taken his first gulp. He didn’t think the elven teacup could keep heat that well. He had wanted to drink a large gulp to appear polite, but the hot beverage running down his throat made him feel like he was swallowing burning coal. He paled.
“Hahahaha! This tastes rather good!” mumbled Leguna a little unclearly before he stuck his reddish tongue out like a dog trying to cool down on a hot day.
“Glad you like it.”
Eiron didn’t bother to pop his bubble.
“Apart from being a nice refreshment, it also has a peculiar effect on humans. If you use the drink together with certain secret elven arts, you can open your enthymemic pathways.”
Leguna looked at the emerald-colored liquid in the cup. While he didn’t know what Eiron was planning, he wasn’t too worried either. If the elf really wanted to harm them, he wouldn’t have spent so much effort to save Kurdak. So, he patiently waited for what he had to say.
“Enthymema is a very mysterious power. It forms the thoughts of living beings and is also the force used to control magic. It’s also the key to the door of time that connects the past, present, and future of any living being,” explicated Eiron as he waved his hand.
It glowed magically.
“So, child, are you curious about your future? Do you want to take peek?”
Leguna was already in a rather dazed state. He felt his surroundings blur. His eyes emptied as if they weren’t focused on anything. After hearing his reply, Eiron waved his hand. The magic power gradually fused with the steam billowing out of the kettle. Leguna’s gaze turned to the steam and focused.
As he looked closely at the rising steam, the magical glow formed one scene after another: the slums, Melindor, the old man, Eirinn, the bread store, the sea, Chief-mate Hans, it finally showed Kurdak, Cyranos, and Vera.
Even though his consciousness wavered slightly, he could still recognize the scenes. As expected, what came next were the crimsonblood bear and orcs.
The scenes of the past took only half a minute to replay. He realized he was about to move into the future. However, the scenes were considerably blurrier. The future was far less clear than the past. Despite that, he was able to feel joy, pleasure, burdens and worry from the blurry scenes. Lastly, a wave of great pain and anger rushed into his chest like a roaring wave. It was so heart-rending that it made him tear up uncontrollably even though he didn’t know what was actually happening. The hatred he felt was all-consuming. The wave of hatred was so domineering that he felt it wouldn’t abate until he destroyed the whole world.
As he looked at the puffs of steam, Eiron looked quietly at him and seemed to be thinking about something. He saw the many expressions that flashed across Leguna’s face. He understood what each meant from his experience of mingling with the humans. He noticed that Leguna’s expression changed all of a sudden. Even his aura shifted and took a dive. He was usually warm and carefree. But now, the youth radiated an aura similar to a millennia-old chilling blizzard, icy and alone. He observed the child’s eyes and noticed the color of his irises shift. In response, he dictated a spell under his breath. Magical light entered Leguna’s body. Once all of it was inside, Eiron dispersed the illusion spell.
“What… what happened?” asked Leguna with a cleared-up gaze as he wiped his tears, feeling a little confused.
“You saw glimpses of your future, child.”
“Really? Why don’t I remember anything?”
He was trying his best to control his emotions. Even though he had already exited the misty world, he could still feel his emotions stirring.
“But you felt it, didn’t you? The change in your emotions?”
“I did, Elder Eiron. What does it mean?”
Eiron shook his head.
“Unfortunately, that is beyond me. Prophecies are something incredibly mysterious. The illusions you saw can be a sign of something to come, but what they symbolize is very hard to decipher. Prophecies only point to a set of probable events. Even so, I felt that seething emotion in you, child. I don’t know what happened, or rather, will happen, to you in the future to make you to feel such grief and anger. All I can hope is for you to be brave enough to face everything head on.”
“Thank you, Elder Eiron. I’ll be brave,” nodded Leguna.
Eiron looked at the youth deeply.
“Remember, child, true courage isn’t having baseless courage. It’s the ability to retain your hope and faith for the existence of light and kindness in the world even after having experienced its darkness and sin.”
“I’ll remember,” said Leguna respectfully after mulling the words over.
Kurdak looked at the dreamlike elven settlement and fell into a stupor. When he first regained consciousness, he knew what was awaiting him. But he wasn’t the slightest bit bothered about where he was. At least, he survived. He didn’t have any qualms other than that.
“Are you healed?” asked Vera with a concerned gaze as she walked over to the awakened man.
Even though he didn’t seem as down as she thought he would, Vera still monitored his emotions carefully, throwing in a word of advice or two. She was worried he would be unable to escape from mental anguish.
Kurdak moved his thick shoulders and nodded.
“It’s mostly healed. The elves’ secret arts are really something.”
“We owe them big time,” Vera agreed as she looked at the elves who had begun dancing under the moonlight, “If not for them, it would’ve ended badly for all three of us. We really owe them big time.”
“Yes. But it’s about time we left.”
“This soon? Are you really fine?”
“No problems. Don’t forget,” Kurdak said with a look of self-deprecation, “I can heal like a werewolf now.”
“Kurdak, you…” Vera tried to say something but was stopped by a wave of Kurdak’s hand.
“It’s okay, girl. I’m not weak enough that you have to console me. Don’t worry about me. It’ll be full moon in two days. I shouldn’t make any trouble for the elves after all they’ve done for me, right?”
“But… I don’t know if just the two of us are enough to keep you under control. They might know how to keep you calm.”
“…Just tie me to a tree,” Kurdak offered after some thought, “I’ve already thought it through. We leave tomorrow. We’ll head to Nightsong Forest for the next two days. We can go back to Starfall after the full moon.”
“Tie you to a tree? This…” She couldn’t help but imagine how uncomfortable it would be.
“It’s fine. If you don’t want me to kill you, just do it. Consider it a favor,” said Kurdak sincerely.
“Then why don’t you just spend the night here? There are trees here too, right?” countered Vera.
Kurdak looked at the beautiful and pure elves before he shook his head.
“I want to elves to see me as a human, dastardly and cunning, or otherwise. I don’t want to turn into a bloodthirsty monster in front of them. Besides, we can’t stay here forever. Eventually, the two of you will have to deal with me on your own. It’s best you get used to it as soon as possible.”