Father and Son

“Going somewhere?”

Gilræn nearly jumped out of his own skin as the voice broke the silence of his room at the Hero’s Welcome. Whirling around, he was confronted with the imposing specter of a tall, lean kal’dorei male, festooned from head to toe in blue and gold livery. His eyes blazed silver from beneath his helm, and in his right hand was an ancient staff worked in the scarab designs of the Quiraji. Seeing him, Gilræn lost what little color his skin held and his eyes, the only feature of his face visible above the cloth mask he wore, went wide. He stumbled backwards, scattering the contents of the bag he had been hastily packing across the floorboards. He slumped against the bed with a thud, his wide eyes bulging in fear at the figure from his past.

“Kalithil…An’da…” he whispered, the word torn from his constricted throat. On hearing it, the face of the man addressed twisted with hatred behind the metal cagework of his helm.

“Really. Even now you will try and maintain this charade?” he asked menacingly. Gilræn just gawked back, confused. Scowling further, Kalithil continued, “Very well. I was going to give you the chance to confess, but I see you are too much the fool to see your end when it comes.” With that he raised his hands over his head, summing a glittering orb of arcane power. Before slamming it down on Gilræn’s head, he said simply, “Those that sent you will be discovered, and their fate will be the same,” and let loose the deadly blast of violet energy.

“An’da, no!” As Gilræn shrieked the words, his own hand went up, instinctively throwing up a defensive cloud of icy particles. As the arcane orb struck, the scattered icy crystals diffused its energy, allowing it to disperse without harming the frightened mage. Growling in frustration, Kalithil raised his hands again, preparing another strike.

“You merely delay your fate, imposter.”

“An’da, it’s me! It is Gilræn,” he cried. Pushing back against the wall, he lifted his hand and ripped the mask from his face. Seeing the face unveiled, Kalithil froze. The visage was different than the one so far back in his memory. Rounded, less sharp. The skin had a different cast to it, although it was still as pale a can be. Different, yet very much the same.

Faltering, Kalithil dropped his hands and said, “It cannot be…”

“It is, An’da….it’s me.”

Looking over the smaller framed, slender body of his lost son, he whispered hoarsely, “But you look like quel’dorei…”

“I had to change. I couldn’t very well walk around among quel’dorei looking the same for thousands of years, could I?”

“My son,” an overcome Kalithil croaked out, voice breaking, “I did not believe you could have survived. The others are long since passed. So many…”

Nodding sadly, Gilræn replied, “My own as well. Only one other remains.” Kalithil nodded dully, staring wide eyed at his lost progeny. Suddenly and without a word, he staggered forward. Gilræn tried to lunge out of the way, fearing the worst, but Kalithil simply scooped his son into his arms and clutched him tightly. As an astonished Gilræn slowly began to relax and return the long-overdue embrace, Kalithil’s body was wracked by a rare display.

He wept.

Hours later, father and son still sat in the small room, comparing tales. It takes a long while to catch up on thousands of years of history. Kalithil continuously marveled at the ingenuity shown by his son in adapting and surviving among the quel’dorei. Smiling inwardly, the older man thought briefly that his dearest, Lilybeth, was going to have a field day recording Gilræn’s story for the Treasury.

Suddenly, their peaceful recollections were interrupted. As if summoned, Lilybeth herself burst in the door. Behind her, tense and ready to act, stood Forosuul and Tindomiel. Seeing Tindomiel filled Kalithil with shame. He would owe her a rather large apology when all this was done.

“Kal, no!” cried Lilybeth, before taking in the scene and freezing in place comically. All three of the kal’dorei in the doorway looked bewildered at the tableau before them. The scene of a father and son talking like old friends was not what they had expected to find.

Everyone was rigid for a few uncountably long moments. Naturally, it was Kalithil who broke the silence. “Lilybeth, my love. I would like you to meet my son, Gilræn, of the ren’dorei,” he said, grinning. Lily just stared, unsure how to react. Forosuul looked over at his wife as if she had lost her mind. Tindomiel herself? She alternated between glaring and smiling as her face twisted and turned from relief to joy to anger and back. Kalithil, seeing an opportunity, pointed at Gilræn’s face and asked impishly, “He looks just like me. Why didn’t you say so?”

The look on Tindomiel’s face could have melted steel.