Home > Unreal > Into Taleria > Chapter 11

Into Taleria Chapter 11

Author:Kate Category:Unreal Update time:2022-11-09 19:15:20

Aduils grasp of English was growing in leaps and bounds since the day on the balcony, but there were still some things he had trouble with, and never was that so clear as the day they wandered the garden and he asked, "What makes you weep?"

To her eternal embarrassment, Kate didn catch on right away and, after a—somewhat surprised—moments thought, answered honestly.

"Well, it… its kind of silly," she said. "Where I come from, it sometimes seems like everybodys just out for themselves, like if you can do anything for me, Im not going to do anything for you, you know? Survival of the fittest stuff. There are so many stories out there of people who were attacked or hurt in some way, and other people saw what was happening and just kept walking or turned a blind eye, and a lot of the time its because they

e scared that if they stepped in, they might get hurt too. And I get that, but it just… it still hurts, you know?

"But then there are other people, the kind who care so much that they will go out of their way to help someone in need, and it doesn matter that they don know the person, and it doesn matter that they might never get anything out of it for themselves. It doesn even matter that they might get hurt. They just do whatever they can because its the right thing to do, because they honestly can see any other way to act. I don know, its stupid, but just the thought of that—that kindness without question, sometimes… it just fills my heart so much I want to cry."

Aduil took a quiet, thoughtful moment before he asked, "This is why you weep over the… flowers?"

Kate stopped in her tracks.

"What? No, I thought you meant—oh, dag nabbit!" Her hands shot up to cover the blush burning across her face. "Made, Aduil, the word is made. What made you cry, past tense."

Dag, what had she been thinking? Why would he be asking such an intimate question? Use your brain next time, idiot!

Closing her eyes, she let her hands slip, sucking a deep breath and slowly letting it out. Okay. Enough of this. Time to be a big girl. She opened her eyes and forced herself to face him, plastering on a smile.

"Okay, well that was really stupid," she started.

"Forgive me, Kate, I—"

"Nope, its all good, we both screwed up. Lets just—lets forget about it, pretend it didn happen, okay? Okay. Now come on, its a bright, sunshiny day, lets not waste it standing around making fools of ourselves." She swept past him down the path, silently willing him to play along.

She hadn gotten far before Aduil joined her, easily matching her quick stride.

"I do not think you a fool," he said quietly.

"Now, see, thats not forgetting it, is it? Thats talking about it." She looked over before adding, "Thanks, though. Thats sweet of you to say."

Aduil grinned and Kate, despite herself, had to laugh.

"I really should have used another example," she said. "You

e never going to forget that baby thing, are you?"

"No, I do not believe I will," he cheerfully agreed.

Well, at least it wasn as humiliating as what makes you cry. Oy.

Kate gave her head a small shake before turning her attention to her hands, idly picking at her fingernails as they passed through the dappled shade of a towering aspen. The question was still coming, she knew; Aduil had grown quiet, but his silence, and the searching expression he wore, spoke volumes.

Well. Best to get it over with.

"It was my mom," she said, dropping her hands with a sigh. "The flower thing. Snowdrops are my moms favorite flower, and when I saw them, it just made me think of her and… and I got homesick. I just, I wanted to go home." She shrugged.

Aduil had been watching her as she spoke, but when she glanced at him, he turned his attention to the path ahead of them, and she couldn quite read his expression.

"You wish to leave," he said.

"Well, yeah. I mean, even if it weren for my mom, I couldn exactly stay here forever, could I? I don think the King likes me very much," she added in a stage whisper.

"He does not know you. I am fairly certain he could be moved to grant you refuge, were you to stay." His tone was neutral, and his face gave nothing away, but it almost sounded… was he asking her to stay?

She almost asked him, but the idea of another embarrassing misunderstanding held her tongue. It was probably just wishful thinking anyway.

"Thanks for the offer, but as amazing as this place is, I can ." She shook her head. "My mom… she doesn even know where I am. Shes probably scared out of her mind. I can leave her like that. I have to get home."

As soon as she figured out how.

She was still holding out hope that the journal would have the answer. It was looking promising. Already the author had found himself in Taleria much the same way Kate had. He didn seem to remember any more about how it happened than she did, but he described the same sensations shed felt, right down to the paralysis hed woken with in the storage room of an inn in the town of Danyne.

Turned out the paralysis went away on its own, which was good to know, but they hadn read much further than that before Aduil had gotten restless and theyd headed out to the garden. It was a good sign, though. If the author had come to Taleria, maybe hed found a way back, one Kate could follow. Because after that lie about Lindolir… that had been a bad idea, because for the life of her, she couldn figure out a way to ask Aduil for help without exposing the lie, which could only be explained with the Talerian Chronicles, and she still wasn willing to do that. As much as she wanted to get home, she wouldn risk an entire world just for her own sake.

But that was okay, because the journal had the answer. All she had to do was find it.


It was quiet when Kate stepped into the library the next morning. Well, it was always quiet, but this was different in that Aduil, though he was there, didn greet her. Hunched over their usual table, engrossed in something Kate couldn see, he didn even seem to have noticed her arrival.

This was too good to pass up.

Kate grinned and, careful not to make a sound, tiptoed up behind him and slammed her hands down on his shoulders with a BOO!.

Aduil didn even flinch, just closed his notepad and craned his neck back to look up at her with an amused smile.

"Is that meant to frighten me? Did you think to… how did you say it, catch me off guard?"

"What? No, obviously not. That was just a test. You passed." She plopped down next to him. "But, even if it was, you know, you earned it. You scared me when we first met, so I owe you. And I always pay my debts. Ill get you one of these days."

The smile tapered into a smirk as he leaned forward and narrowed his eyes. "I invite you to try."

"Oh, Aduil…" Kate murmured as her lips curled into a grinchy grin, "you

e going to regret that."

Aduils smile only deepened, crinkling the corners of his eyes as his gaze bore into hers, and her breath hitched as she noticed for the first time the tiny blue flecks in the deep green of his eyes, like the summer sky peeking through a dense forest canopy.

Dag, he was unreasonably attractive.

With more than a little effort, she forced her gaze away, settling instead on the notepad in front of him.

"So, uh, whatchya doing there?" she asked as casually as she could manage.

Aduil didn answer right away, and when she glanced back at him, he looked a little startled.

"Doing?" he repeated.

"Yeah…" she raised an eyebrow, nodding to the notepad.

"Ae." He relaxed back into his seat. "Only a drawing. It is my craft," he added with a shrug.

"Your craft… like your job? I thought you were a warrior." And a prince, but the two seemed to go hand in hand, from what shed seen.

"I am. A craft is different, it is…" he trailed off, eyes going distant as he contemplated his answer.

"Like a talent?" she guessed. "Something you

e really good at?"

Aduil nodded. "But it is still more than that. It is… it is difficult to explain." He moved a hand to his chest. "It is something in my heart."

"A calling," Kate offered. "Something you just have to do."

"Yes…" Smiling softly, Aduil gave her another slow nod. "Yes, that is it."

Oh, stop looking at me like that, Aduil… Im going to get ideas.

"Do all elves have, uh, crafts?" she asked, partially to distract herself, but also because she was genuinely curious.

"Most do, yes. My father is a master weaponsmith, and my brother works with stones, crafting runestones, starstones and other things of beauty and use."


Aduil pointed up to the great crystal chandelier hanging high over their heads, dormant in the sunshine streaming through the windows.

"Oh. Huh." Shed never imagined Lindolir as a craftsman, or the King for that matter, but then, she didn really know either of them. But whatever. She was more interested in Aduils craft anyway. "Can I see them?"

Aduil glanced up, then wrinkled his nose at her. "You wish to see my brothers stones?"

"What, no!" There was no way he would recognize the double entendre, but Kate still flushed at the idea. Okay, sure, she had always admired Lindolir in the books and movies, and maybe even harbored a little crush for awhile, but that was then and now… well. Just no. "Not even slightly. No, I meant your drawings."

"Oh." He looked almost relieved. (He didn get the double entendre, did he?) He studied her for a few seconds before asking, "You… you truly wish to view my craft?"

"Well, I mean, if thats okay," she said. Was this one of those royal customs shed been worried about? "But, hey, if you don want to or something, its fine. I was just curious."

"No, I—it is well." He grabbed the notepad, and something about the way he hesitated before handing it to her made Kate wonder if he was breaking some kind of rule.

She glanced at him to make sure it was really okay before she opened it to the first page and all thoughts of rules and propriety washed away.

The first image was of an elf woman more beautiful than any Kate had ever seen—and that was saying something—gazing at something just out of frame with a look of such love and joy, Kate longed to see what it was. The erell held a hand just below her chin, as though shed been about to cover her grin, and though it was just a stark charcoal sketch, it was filled with such exquisite detail, Kate almost expected to hear her laugh.

"Shes beautiful" Kate said softly.

Aduil peeked over the top of the page as she angled it for him to see better before he answered.

"She was, yes," he said slowly, adding when Kate looked up, "It is my mother. She…she is passed from this place."

"Oh. Oh, Im so sorry," she said.

"It is well. It was long ago. But thank you."

Not sure what else to say, Kate turned her attention back to the drawing. Now that she knew what to look for, she could see the resemblance.

"You have her smile," she commented.

"Do you think so?"

She nodded, eyes still moving over the lines of the drawing, wondering if his mother had had a similar laugh too.

"Annonte. That is a comfort."

"I can be the first to tell you that," she said, glancing back at him again.

"No, but you are the first who...who has no reason to lie."

Kate dropped her gaze back to the notepad as she turned the page. No reason to lie. Well, not about that anyway, she thought with a small prick of guilt.

The next handful of drawings were landscapes and forest scenes, one of which she recognized as the view from the tower balcony, with a flock of birds taking flight above the treetops.

Thumbing through the pages, she stopped, briefly lingering on a drawing of Lindolir crouched over a pond. He looked so serious and... and sad, gazing intently into the waters as if all the answers of the universe were held within its depths and if he could just find the right one, everything would be okay.

"Oh, I love this one," Kate said when she flipped to an image of an elfling hanging upside-down from a tree with a wide grin, arms akimbo and long hair swinging in the breeze. She angled the book toward Aduil again before asking, "is that Lunduin?"

"It is."

"What a little sweetie. I hope you told him I wasn upset about the acorn thing."

"It is well, he knows." Aduil said, turning his attention to his notes on the journal.

"Thats good." She already stuck out like a sore thumb in this place, the last thing she needed was to become a boogeyman story. Especially after that guard had acted like she was going to eat the kid.

She was getting near the end of the book when she found quite possibly the last thing she expected. Her eyes darted from the drawing to Aduil, then back again. Was that...? Maybe she shouldn mention it.

She slowly turned the page and found another one. And on the next page and the next and the next. They were all in different poses, a few close ups, and at this point, she had to ask.

"Aduil is... is that me?"

He barely glanced over as he nodded before returning to his notes. She flipped through the pages, not quite sure what to think. She was smiling and laughing in most of the shots, though there was one where she was bent over the journal, mouth open in a—less than attractive—smirk, probably one of the many times shed mocked the author.

It took her a few seconds to figure out the image on the last page, the one hed been working on when shed come in. It was an aerial view of the top of her head as she sat against a tree, with the faint outline of her hand coming up to wipe sweat off her face.

"The day we met..." She gently traced the lines of the image. This must have been his first view of her, from up in the tree.

Aduil cleared his throat. "I—I am called to draw beauty," he said with a casual shrug. "Wherever I may find it."

The words didn register right away, but when they did, it was all she could do to stare at him as he studiously examined his notes.

Did he seriously just call her beautiful? Not that shed never heard it before, but coming from him? A guy whod spent his life surrounded by the absolute epitome of ethereal beauty?

"I think you need to get your eyes checked," she muttered, and of course, now he looked at her.


"Uh, nothing, never mind." She snapped the notepad shut and slid it back across the table. "Thanks for letting me look, they

e lovely, really, but we should, uh, we should get back to the journal." She pulled it close and opened it up, taking out the silken cord theyd been using as a bookmark and started to read. Or tried to, anyway.

"Kate, have I… do my drawings trouble you?"

"Uh, nope, its all good." Never mind that it made it really hard to keep pretending she didn feel anything for him. Shed thought she was getting ideas before, hoo boy. "Lets just, just read, okay?"

"If you are certain…"

"Yup." Nope.



Erell Elf Woman

Annonte Thank you

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