Ghosts


Disclaimer 1: This is fanfic. That means I do not own any of it. I just borrow it to play with for a little while and let people see the pathetic results if they really want to.

Disclaimer 2: I'm not making any money from it. It's just for fun.

Disclaimer 3: What isn't borrowed is all made up. None of this is real or most likely at all realistic. Please don't trust any of the information in here. Most likely you know more about whatever I'm writing about than I do.

Disclaimer 4: Attitudes, views and opinions expressed by the characters or in the story are not necessarily those of the author. Even when writing Science Fiction or Fantasy I do not tend to attempt to create perfect/better worlds in which everybody gets a happy end ... or whatever is best for them. Please accept that some characters will have a bad ending or be unhappy.

Disclaimer 5: I intend no insult to anyone. If I offend anyone I'm very sorry. Please understand that it was an accident as I tend to be very clumsy in these things.

Disclaimer 6: If my characters' conversations seem odd or they appear to be talking past each other the latter might occasionally be intentional, but most likely it is an accident and I'm not aware that they are. It's just my bad communication skills.


For a challenge even though I never actually participated in it. I just tried to keep up with it inofficially for a while to keep myself writing.

Ghosts

There had once been a time when Elaith had liked to walk around Waterdeep gathering information. He still knew every street corner and could have told tales about its history, but he'd stopped enjoying it long ago. Now as often as not he wished he could forget the memories the familiar sights conjured.

When he passed the open Lord's opulent palace, it wasn't the so wonderfully exploitably corrupt current inhabitant that he thought of, but still holier-than-though paladin Piergeron. How he must turn in his grave to see how his home and office were now defiled.

The statues in heroes' court were even worse. It was an excellent place to overhear current rumours however, so he kept visiting it.

Usually he settled at the foot of his old rival Mirt's statue, leaning against his leg and watching and listening unnoticed. Few people that came there bothered to notice elves. They were either looking to be hired, or to recruit impressive looking fighters for such exciting tasks as escorting cabbages to the market, or accompanying ladies to parties.

Sometimes he felt tempted to offer to hire caravan guards for actual fighting. He'd like to see their faces. But then, maybe they'd just continue to ignore him. After all, what could elves be good for?

"I might as well be invisible myself," he'd told Mirt's unmoving grey stone form more than once. "Don't you think it'd be fitting? I could have my pedestal right across from yours and we could glare at each other all day and night."

He'd never minded the difference in life expectancy between elves and humans much, or thought that he might someday miss his old rival. Not until Danilo Tann had died at least.

He sighed. At least Arilyn, his princess, was still alive, though she was growing old and no longer up to sharing in the sort of adventures they'd once had together. It had been the same with Danilo in his final decades.

Arilyn's attention was all focussed on her descendents now as she was trying to choose the best possible heir for her moonblade. After three different marriages to different humans the great-grandchildren, grandchildren and children were rather hard to keep track of as far as Elaith was concerned.

Maybe he should have done as Danilo had expected and tried to win Arilyn for himself after the bard's death. Then the family tree would be less complicated, there'd be fewer dead children and grandchildren and he'd feel like he'd actually have a place in it all.

Still, place or not, Arilyn and some of her brood were visiting Waterdeep. She'd rented one of his houses and invited him to stop by and see them. No matter how much it hurt, he couldn't possibly say no.

And so he was once again walking through the city he knew as well as any forest elf did his home tree and that nevertheless no longer felt like his own. He didn't have far to go, but his way took him past one of the most painful sights of all, Blackstaff Tower. He averted his eyes from the Archmage's home, but couldn't avert his memories.

Of course the current Blackstaff was worthy, there was no doubting that. They all had been. But what was she compared to Khelben Arunsun? The open Lord didn't care for her, the hidden lords remained strangers to her and her little band of pet heroes was nothing compared to what the Harpers or even the Moonstars had been. Once upon a time it had been a position of political and social as well as magical power. No more.

Would things be different now, if Danilo had taken up the staff as Khelben had intended him to? If it had remained in the family? Would he be on his way to visit his princess in the tower right now, where her grandchild the shadow-ruler of the city would reside?

And would he prefer that?

After almost thirty years the death of his first real human - well almost human - friend still was an open wound. How foolish he'd been to think that the short human lives didn't matter.

He took to the roofs to shorten his way and escape his own thoughts sooner, but every step new memories of songs and laughter, of silly quips and hidden meanings haunted him and he ended up running the last part of the way, almost flying onto a balcony of Arilyn's rented house out of breath.

The door was open and his memory triggered again, leading him to hear soft music drifting out from the room beyond. Why, oh why had he offered Arilyn the same house she and Danilo had so often stayed in long ago?

Fighting to force his senses back into the presence he slipped through the door to prove to himself that there was no musician or instrument inside, but the phantom-music didn't go away. It grew clearer, the sound of a harp from the corner on the right ...

Elaith stepped towards it and the player looked up, thin fingers faltering and interrupting their play.

Familiar, oh so very familiar, grey eyes met amber and for one moment took Elaith's breath away. Then a door opened behind him and the spell was broken.

"There's a strange elf here great-grandmother," the little musician said in Elvish and suddenly Elaith noticed the long tipped ears peeking out of long blond hair they somehow didn't seem to belong with.

He regarded the boy more closely, striving for objectivity. No, there was nothing wrong with the combination. If he hadn't called Arilyn great-grandmother, he could have passed for a pure blooded gold-elf, though, to Elaith, his grey eyes were only too human.

"Elaith!" Arilyn greeted him with honest, if rather grand-motherly delight, but right now he could think of only one thing.

"The boy. Which one is he?"

Arilyn beamed proudly. "A fine little fellow, isn't he? His name's Dalion ... Dalion Thann." She cast a nervous look at him as she said it, but for once Elaith didn't stiffen at the sound of the name. "You probably remember his grandfather," she babbled on hastily. "My son Arun. From ... my first marriage ..."

"The one that inherited your elven ears." Or so they'd always pretended to assume. "How could I ever forget considering Cassandra's tantrum over it."

"Indeed, maybe it's no wonder he always got on better with Elven women after that. His descendants are still uncomfortable around humans, I'm afraid. Dalion grew up in Evereska. This is his first visit to Waterdeep."

But Elaith was hardly listening to her. "Dalion. Yes. He's the one. I know it."

An elven child, of Danilo's blood, with Danilos eyes and love of music.

"I don't know," Arilyn said doubtfully. "He certainly has enough elven blood to improve his chances, but it is gold elven blood, and he is so very young. So far he seems much more inclined towards magic than sword-craft ..."

"Of course," said Elaith. "He would be."








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