The Chronicles Of Valana Volume 2: Elaria's Bane
Copyright © 2016 by A.B.
A Good Reason to Visit an Old Friend
Tarak Vendril was born in an affluent family in Fadr, his parents and grandparents had followed military lives, with his father fighting in the Great War against Zah Dah. He himself had tried to follow in his father's footsteps but his complete lack of discipline, morals and self-control had seen him discharged from the Fadr regular army.
In the following months Tarak found himself hanging out with smugglers and highwaymen, killing, extorting and blackmailing until he considered himself a bandit and a mercenary. A year later he killed his boss and assumed control of the small group.
It was not often that people actually paid him to rob someone, no, most of the times they paid others to remove him and his kind. But someone hired him to rob someone in the small forest on the western border of Dara and the gave him a substantial reward to boot to be quick.
Blinded by the sheer amount of the promised gold he and his men lay their ambush and waited their prey.
An hour or two later they heard the slow walking of horses on the dirt, forest road. From the sounds of the horses and the voices talking to each other Tarak gathered that there must be three or four of them. He signaled his men and stood in the middle of the road. Even if these riders were not the ones they had been paid to rob they would rob them nonetheless. More the gain for them, Tarak thought.
"So…why are we going to Dara now, my Liege?" One of the riders asked.
"Because I have not seen my friend in a very long time and I have missed him, what good is it being who I am if I cannot go visit a friend when I want?" The shortest of them replied in a very child-like voice.
"Matters of state my Lord…." Another one said.
There were four of them in total, they all wore capes with hoods over their heads, the shortest one wore a crown made of elderflowers and pine bark, the others wore circlets and helmets, they looked very princely and expensive. That should have been a clue for Tarak, one that he misinterpreted entirely.
"Matters of state as well as the ruling of my people will not fall from Grace if I am away for a week or two, that is why I have regency council and my mother and my loves can rule in my stead, for such a brief period of time." The young one replied.
"My good Lords…how goes your day? Good I hope? Good. I have a proposal for you, my Lords." Tarak interrupted them.
"Proposal? I thank you my good man but we are not interested and we are in a hurry." The young one responded trying to move his horse passed Tarak. Tarak stopped him getting in the way.
"I am afraid I must insist my Lords You see I need you to give me all your valuables, and those expensive-looking horses and after we ransom you for gold you can go about your lives." Tarak retorted smugly.
The young one laughed heartily tilting his head up and holding his belly. "No, I have a counter proposal for you, brigand. Let us pass and you can continue to exist in the world of the living." He said looking deeply in Tarak's eyes through his hooded face.
Tarak grinned evilly. "You and whose army? You are four, we outnumber you. You sound like a child. Three bodyguards and a noble brat cannot defeat the sons of death."
"Is that what you have named your little group of bandits? One behind us with a spear, two archers one on each side up in the trees and a swordsman hidden in the trees? No magic users? No Speakers? You cannot hope to win or live. Leave with your lives." The boy spoke calmly and with authority.
"How….? Men! Attac…" Tarak started barking his orders when an invisible force pushed him back off his feet. He saw in a blink of an eye, the boy grab a bow from the saddle, and fire two arrows on each of his archers, from quivers on each side of his horse. One of his bodyguards just pressed on the horse's neck with his hand. The horse spun around rearing on his hind legs. The rider unsheathed a spear from his saddle and threw it at the spearman hiding behind them. The third man whispered something and the swordsman caught on fire screaming as he burned alive. The fourth rider stood there as if nothing had happened.
The whole scene had not lasted more than two seconds. The boy held the crown on one hand and removed his hood with the other to reveal a face of a boy no older than thirteen. He held his free hand up and whispering something in a language Tarak did not understand levitated Tarak to him.
"Tell me, did you honestly think you could best the High-King of all Elves with his tutors, best of all warriors, magic users and Speakers on all of the Elven Lands with just four untrained men? No, I think not." Then Aer'andil gazed ever so deeply inside his eyes before speaking again. "We were not the one your contractor wanted you to rob.
Before Tarak could speak his surprise Aer'andil snapped his neck by use of magic and letting him fall on the ground he and his mentors continued to trod away. Thus ended the life of the Tarak Vendril, second son of Vegor of Fadr.
Aer'andil replaced the hood on his head placing the crown atop it.
"Yes, my Lord but your mother and the regency council cannot decide, they can only advise as is the law of our People."
Aer'andil sighed. "We are not going to be gone for that long Terastil of Dol Anro, son of Ygromir Boden the wise ruler and King of Dol Anro."
Terastil was the Crown Prince of Dol Anro. He was considered one of the best sword fighters, melee fighters and strategic minds of the Elves. He had helped finalise the plan of attack against the City of Darkness of Zah Dah with High-King Aer'andil in the Great War against Olan and his forces.
"Yes, my Lord." Terastil rolled his eyes. He liked this new King-ling, he was his father's son, honest, proud, more stubborn than an old mule, cheerful most of the times and moody when he must. And you did not want to cross him or hurt those he loves about, a stead-fast warrior of magic whose abilities Terastil could see increasing daily.
"I swear to the spirits I have never seen such a stubborn Elf before in my life." Uragoth son of Krataos, Spirit healer of Qazameria chuckled.
"And you have had a looooong life haven't you? Uragoth." Aer'andil teased the twenty-thousand-year old Elf.
There was a loud crack just beneath Aer'andil's saddle making the horse and rider jump and the young King almost fall from his saddle.
"Old enough to have picked up a trick or two except healing." Uragoth grinned as the others busted laughing, all except Minaroth.
"We need to pick up the pace, enough slacking." Minaroth told the rest and kicked the sides of her horse.
"You are always such a serious person…." Aer'andil whined.
"Someone has to be around here." Minaroth daughter of the King Gel'Glidorn 's brother had been picked by Feldon himself as leader of the High-King's tutors and to continue to teach Aer'andil about magic, the language, history and traditions of his people now that he himself would have to be travelling a lot between Gel'anr and newly-reclaimed Udala. Aer'andil had positioned Feldon as his second in command in the Hunters of Darkness so his old tutor could no longer dedicate as much time to Aer'andil's learning.
It was Aer'andil's time to eye roll at the short, dismissive answer. Forty years now he had grown accustomed to Minaroth's disposition. He knew that at heart Minaroth was a gentle soul but she was also a fierce magic-warrior and with a no-nonsense mentality when it came to her charge and duties.
"We are now in the Kingdom of Dara." Belevod of Dol'Adur, stealth and bow tutor announced to the others. They had exited the forest on the south pass to Dara, a narrow stretch of land between Falkor's In-land sea and the Eastern Ocean.
Just then, shielding his eyes from the sudden overexposure to the sun's rays Aer'andil saw, ahead of them a wall with two large gates guarding the narrow pass. On the parapets archers stood with their bows in hand and in front of the wall three large dragons lay, quietly observing the traffic, their green, red and orange scales glimmering in the afternoon sun, tales wagging deliberately left and right in a statement of boredom. Their heavily-armoured riders checking papers and inspecting carts.
"Much has changed I see, since the last time I was here." Aer'andil murmured.
They trotted to the queue before the gates slowly and waited until their turn came up.
"Have you anything to declare? Where are you coming from? State your business in Dara?" One of the dragon riders stepped in their way.
"We have nothing to declare, I am a friend of your King, kindly let me pass." Aer'andil spurred his horse as to move but the rider held on to the horse's head becoming more aggressive, unsheathing his sword.
"The King has no child friends and he may like boys, but to the best of my knowledge he likes boys his own age." He sneered at the Boy-King, "Now state your business here or meet the sharp end of my blade, no Batorn spy will pass me."
The second the sword was out of its scabbard all three of Aer'andil's tutors made for their weapons but Aer'andil stopped them with a wave of his hand.
"Yes, Daran hospitality has decreased significantly since I was last here forty years ago, I am not some whore for you to be talking to like this, soldier, I am Aer'andil son of Liandras of the line of Glothoin High-King of the Elves. Now let me pass." It never ceased to amaze his teachers, how in a blink of an eye Aer'andil could turn from a mischievous, gleeful, tease to a stern, no-nonsense-allowed authority figure when the situation required it. He had changed much since the end of War of the Zah Dah Darkness over four decades ago.
"You? The Hig…." Whatever the rider was about to say was cut off as one of the other riders slapped the back of his head.
"You, moron, how dare you talk like this to your superior!" The second rider looked at Aer'andil and made a small bow. "Your Highness, please forgive my subordinate, he's young and eager to prove himself a worthy dragon-rider. He has much to learn." Looking up to the wall he yelled at the archers. "Open the gates and send a messenger to the King, The High-King of the Elves has come for a visit." Aer'andil nodded and spurred his horse on.
"Yes, indeed…it has decreased significantly." He whispered to himself as he passed the gates.
Three hours later they were at the gates of the City of the new merchant republic of Dara. From what Aer'andil had heard from the peasants in the street it was a Republic only in name, with Lucas ruling as King with a body of the richest merchants aiding him as the Council of Dara. From what little Aer'andil could remember from the twelve years in Earth it reminded him a tad of the Italian Republics during the Renaissance.
They had heard a Trader peddling in fabrics and clothing attires converse with a customer, "Some folk believe that the Merchants are running the show now that King Lucas Berandor Merol conceded them privileges and the formation of the council, but they are naïve. They do not understand that he's keeping his friends close, his enemies closer and the merchant at his pocket. He's a shrewd politician and he knows what's best for the Kingdom. Yes, sure they will struggle and scheme but he knows it and he knows that they would do that anyways, and they know that if they actually overdo it, privileges given can be revoked."
They arrived at the Main Palace gates and dismounted. Aer'andil straightened his clothes and stretched after a long day in horseback.
"Take us to your King, the High-King of the Elves has come for a visit." Minaroth told one of the guards who bowed at Aer'andil before replying.
"Yes ma'am, we have been expecting you, the Rider-Commander's letter arrived a short while ago. Please follow me." They followed him through the gates and a long corridor to the throne room, a table was placed just to the left of the throne, on it was a map and various figures cast in clay.
Aer'andil, grinning, almost ran to Lucas. "Good is the day that I see my old friend again, long have I to…" Lucas cut him off without even turning to greet him.
"Nigh is the hour, Batorn is ever assaulting my Kingdom, spies penetrate our defenses and the Rat-King of our "allies" and neighbors is said to be amassing his troops, and now the Child King-ling of the reclusive, isolationist Elves bangs at my door expecting a warm welcome and hospitality in the Hall of the man that used to be his friend." Lucas' voice was cold and offensive.
Aer'andil stopped dead on his tracks, the smile fading fast from his lips. "U…used to? I am your friend, King Lucas Berandor Merol. I have not seen you in forty years and this is the welcome I get? It pains me to see not only your hospitality lacking of late but also your manners and humanity. What has happened to my friend?" He held his hands to his sides, his legs slightly opened. Terastil knew this to be his "prepared" stance. The boy would assume this position when he was contemplating attacking.
"Friend? What does an Elf know of Humanity? Yes, we have not seen each other for over forty years…Leave." Lucas remained bent over the table.
Aer'andil clenched his fists in ever increasing cold rage.
"Leave...what the fuck is going on here? How dare you speak to me in this fashion, friend aside I am your superior. What has happened to you? You do not write to me in forty years and now you behave like a spoiled little brat with a tantrum?" His tutors were becoming increasingly more tense. To them Aer'andil was their High-King, to them he was the leader of all Elves and of the Hunters of Darkness, they would not easily accept anyone speaking to him in this fashion for long.
On either side of Lucas there were men, men that now drew their swords turning to see he who would dare speak to their King like so.
"Speak not to King Lucas in this way boy or we will have your head." One of them told the Child High-King. In an instant the room was alive with motion as all three Elves unsheathed their weapons, Minaroth reading hands aflame, Belevod daggers in hand, Terastil with his longsword and Uragoth with his double axe in one hand and a rune in the other. "You, mortal, will not talk to the High-King in this fashion or you will taste our steel and fire." Minaroth fired her words at Lucas. Her face an emotionless mask of death. The Daran guards pointed their spears at the four guests.
"Minaroth, feo, arudil van logirim." Lucas understood Aer'andil's words to his warrior, telling her to stay their blades.
"Tell me why you insult me in this manner or I'll bring the whole Palace down with nothing but a thought." Aer'andil asked his old friend, daggers shooting from his eyes and anger dripping from his tongue.
"Why…" Lucas finally turned to see him. "Where were you "old friend"? Where were you when my father was assassinated? When I was married? When Batorn invaded? When we defeated them? When…when my son was poisoned? I have not received a single reply from you in forty years and as many invitations to visit, pleas for aid and letters of me begging for you to send soldiers in defense of this city and its people. You are no friend of Dara, Aer'andil of Gel'anr, son of Liandras, you are not welcome here. Leave or spend the night in my dungeons." Lucas turned and left the room leaving behind a seething Aer'andil.
"Son…he has a son? He is married…time has fled and so has my friendship to this man." Aer'andil spoke in almost a whisper before turning to one of the soldiers."
"You will take Uragoth and me to the King's son, he is one of our best healers, then we are leaving and I'll have to reconsider Dara's position in the Alliance.
Uragoth and the others sheathed their weapons as the soldier, in complete awe and discomfort for the position he was in, nodded and motioned for them to follow him.
They followed him through marbled corridors and arched vault-ways.
"The trade with the Orkhavocs has certainly been profitable to Dara I see." Terastil voiced.
They entered a dark, gloomy chamber with a bed on the center and lit by a single torchlight near the bed.
Uragoth stood above the bed and touched the lying child on it.
Even with his Elven eyes it was difficult for Aer'andil to fully discern the boy's characteristics but he saw a body weak and frail, and a face of a child entering puberty with crimson hair.
Uragoth touched the boy's forehead and removing a flask from his belt he held it near the boy's lips. "This is no child and he is not poisoned, you have all been deceived by Magic most vile and Spiritum abilities most dark, Minaroth I need more light." Minaroth voiced a spell that lit the chamber as if the sun was shining inside it.
"Send for the King, he must see this." Uragoth told the soldier who nodded and left.
"I can see it...it is flickering. I have not seen such magic for…well for forty years. Darkness is afoot isn't it." It was not a question that came from Aer'andil but a statement. Ten minutes later Lucas walked in, he was looking tired and ashen.
"Your mortal Highness, your son was not poisoned, he was kidnapped." Uragoth spoke and emptied the vial's content inside the boy's mouth.
The figure of the boy waned and flickered before their eyes before turning to dark ash and withering away, the bed sheets falling empty on the bed below.
Lucas' face turned white. He turned to the soldier. "Call the guards, call the dragon riders, close all the borders and find my son." Turning his head to the Elves, "I…thank you." He walked out of the room. "Saddle my Dragon and summon the Council of Dara, if any of them backstabbing merchants did this I'll flay them alive." Aer'andil heard him say in the distance.
"We are leaving." Aer'andil told the three, they nodded.
The ride back to Gel'anr was a quiet, silent one except for one dialogue between Minaroth and Aer'andil. They were trotting through the dim light of firefly forest when Minaroth spoke.
"The dragons have changed this forest. It is no longer the bastion of darkness it was, not so long ago." She stated.
"And yet Darkness remains…" Aer'andil almost whispered.
"Why did we really come to this trip? I am not satisfied by "I have not seen my friend in a long time." She pressed him.
"Do I need a good reason to visit my friend?"
"Yes. In your position with your duties, yes."
Aer'andil remained silent for a while before replying. Minaroth did not press him, she knew him to be thinking, considering things beyond her understanding even if she was so much older than him. "A day and two ago I had a dream, an old Elven lady called to me from a distance, surrounded by a dark gloomy interior of a cave. I woke up from the dream but I could still hear her voice ringing in my mind so I followed it, I followed it out of my bedchamber, out of the Royal Palace and beneath it from an entrance I knew not existed before. Forty years now and I had never before seen or paid attention to that entrance…" Uragoth interrupted him with a whisper.
"The Seer's cave, it opens only to those who willingly or not are to receive an omen or a prophecy."
"Yes, she was calling to me but prophesy she had as well as conversation, or perhaps only conversation."
"What did she tell you my Liege?" Minaroth enquired, now truly intrigued.
The forest was still and quiet, there was no wind or sounds from birds and animals. The only sounds were the horses' hooves on the moist ground and their voices.
"Better that I show you than tell you." Aer'andil waved his hands and whispered in the Elven tongue.
A mirror formed out of water vapours in the atmosphere and figures appeared in it. Faded and badly coloured the vision in the mirror was but they could clearly see Aer'andil standing inside a cave and behind him a very old looking Elven woman sitting on a chair made of rotting wood.
"So you come to my humble abode, oh son of Glothoin." She spoke to him in a voice that sounded more ancient than ancient.
"You called to me?" He asked her feeling awkward.
"Yes, you defeated darkness but darkness persists, much like Glothoin and the First of Evils."
"Evil will always exist in the hearts of men." Aer'andil stated, it made her chuckle.
"Yes…good and evil tend to fade as meanings after the first million years or so, Elves are not completely immune to darkness, yours and Udala's families' recent failings are a testament to that."
"You seem to know a lot." Aer'andil knew she had given a prophesy to his father about the boy that would be born of Elf and Human and would be the undoing of the line of Glothoin. It had turned out that that child had been his cousin. He knew not though why she would think that Feldon's family had failed in this way, falling to darkness. Feldon had always fought Darkness and his son, his love, Norion Anorion had not an inch of Darkness inside him.
"The gift of clear vision and Farsight…it is a curse and no mortal being, Nial, Elf or Human should possess it, it will burn away your consciousness and sanity."
"You are an Elf, how old are you?"
"Immortality…another gift that can be a burden and a living-curse after a while."
"You sure talk a lot like spirits."
"I am almost as old as their Aeternae."
"You know the Aeternae?"
"Yes, Elder of all Spirits they ruled the spirit world before the creation of the mortal races, they were the most curious of the new beings, curiosity was their undoing and almost ours, if my husband had not created the pact."
"Y…your husband? You were Glothoin's wife?" Aer'andil gasped astounded by the revelation.
"An age and a three ago, yes, I was Faratha, wife of Glothoin tricked by First of Evils so that evil could persist."
"The First of the Aeternae visited the mortal beings not out of curiosity like its brothers but of malice and desire for power. I have something to tell you young one, a prophesy and a bidding with a final favour, I the Seer have a favour to ask of thee."
Aer'andil looked to her lap, seeing for the first time a black hexagonal gem.
"What is that? I have seen one like it before?" He asked the Seer.
"Ah…finally one of your line who understands, do you know that you understand?"
"I broke a gem just like it when I defeated Olan in Zah Dah."
"I was tricked young one, I was seduced and tricked into touching this gem, I was told that it would give me infinite power to aid my people now that the spirits would be unable to do that."
"Does this give Elves immortality? Does this make us into what we are?"
"No, this binds me into Darkness, Darkness into mortal life and breaches the pact, allowing for disorder in the laws it creates."
"I understand more than before, what is the prophesy, the bidding and the favour you ask of me oh ancient one?"
She smiled, apparently liking his answer.
"Ten there were, one turned to Evil, one was Darkness, First of Evils, one resisted and declared war on its brothers, three were killed, one cast into exile, one exiled itself and two were assimilated, the remaining possess not the combined power to control the hosts of the Spiritum. That is my prophesy, two more Seers there are, one to the south and one to the North, to Dara you must go, to Elaria to the south you must travel. My bidding and my favour is this. Release us from this never-ending torment, mortal beings were not meant to live this long, a million years is enough and the gems must break if you are to defeat it.
The vision in the water-mirror faded and vanished before the mirror turned to water droplets, falling on the forest floor.
"What happened next?" Minaroth asked Aer'andil.
"I released her from this life as she asked, the Seer of Gel'anr is no more, I killed her and shattered the black gem. We must go to Elaria, but not yet, there are preparations to complete. Belevod did you get the message from your spy in Dara?"
Belevod's lips formed a small smirk. "Yes, my King. The commotion created by the outburst of the King Lucas was most fortunate and presented the opportunity required so as to not break my spy's cover in the royal court." Belevod neared his horse to Aer'andil's and gave him a folded piece of parchment.
Aer'andil read it before burning it to a crisp.
"Yes, we most definitely must go to Elaria. Remind me, The Ambassador of Oghelle is to come in a month yes?" Aer'andil asked no one in particular.
"Yes, my Lord."
"Good, contact the Orkhavocs, have their Ambassador return from his visit to Eri'Adar and send missives to all the human Kingdoms of Valana to have Ambassadors present at that meeting, I'll have an announcement to make."
Uragoth smiled internally, without even reading that letter or knowing its contents he could see the cogs turning in his King's head, without even knowing what was written in the spy's letter he knew what his King intended.
The rest of the ride home was quiet.
Two days later Aer'andil disembarked from the Elven ship in Gel'anr's port. Tha'ala and Norion were there to meet him.
"How did it go?" Norion asked him after a hug and a kiss. Aer'andil passed a hand around each of their waists and started walking to the city.
"Why…? I mean you two had been the closest of friends for twelve years, not long by Elven standards but quite a bit by Human ones." Tha'ala asked him when he finished recounting the events of the previous few days.
"What interests me is how come you never received any of the letters? Didn't you use the Hunters?" Norion asked.
"No, day to day correspondence between Kings is not exactly a matter for the Hunters of Darkness."
They arrived in the city. The rest of the day went by with matters of state and frolicking around like kids do.
Betrothed as the three were meant that they, openly, shared a room and a bed. It also meant that there was a room adjacent to theirs that was a clone of the royal bedchambers for when Aer'andil would want to have sex with only one of two without the other, or perhaps one of them three wanted to sleep alone for a night, this did not happen often.
Aer'andil came into the room and removed his clothes, he always slept naked, had been sleeping naked since the end of the war, since he really made Gel'anr his home. His mother knew not to enter the room without knocking, she wasn't blind or stupid and the servants knew by now not to enter unless called in.
He lay on the bed and like all boys do at that age of thirteen years old, even if actually fifty-three years old, his hand wrapped fast around its four-inch pecker and started stroking it slowly, something he had not managed to do for the past few days while he was on the road and he could feel his balls aching.
He closed his eyes enjoying the blissful feelings he was causing himself. He was interrupted by a sudden feeling of something warm and wet wrapping around his boydick. He opened his eyes to see Norion sucking the head, looking at him and grinning.
"You really love sucking that thing don't you?" Aer'andil giggled.
"Yes, much like you love sucking mine." Norion grinned. Aer'andil pulled him up for a sloppy, wet kiss. Aer'andil grabbed his lover's thigh bringing it up to his navel for access to his boy treasures between his legs. One hand wrapping around Norion's three-and-a-half-inch penis and the other hand cupping Norion's firm, round, perky globes of flesh.
Norion moaned and grind his knee on Aer'andil's dick before closing his fist around it jerking it slowly.
"How about you demonstrate how much you love sucking it?" Norion asked him in a whisper. "Only if you suck as well." They giggled.
The door opened and closed, Tha'ala entered the room, the two boys did not even try covering themselves or appear surprised, they knew only her would enter the room without knocking.
"Oy! You two having fun without me! Want me to sleep in the second room?" She asked pouting.
Aer'andil gave her a warm, fuzzy smile and motioned for her. "No, I want you here, both of you." She walked towards the two boys, ever so teasingly slowly removing the few pieces of garments she was wearing.
She lay to the right of Aer'andil embracing the both of them, their lips locking together.
A while after Aer'andil and Norion pivoted around and started sucking each other. Tha'ala grinned and lowering herself down she begun to kiss and suck, kissing Norion and sucking Aer'andil. She snaked a hand behind Norion fingering him and one to fingering Aer'andil. Aer'andil applied suction to Norion's tasty, juicy morsel with two fingers inside the tight chute.
Norion changed to sucking Aer'andil's balls and Tha'ala sucked on his dick, sucking and slurping bringing Aer'andil to the edge before slowing down so that Aer'andil would not blow his cork and then repeat. Aer'andil was sucking, and teasing Norion's boycock before he stopped and looked at them. Holding Tha'ala's elbow he pulled her up and gave her a tongue-kiss, spreading her legs. She gave him some fake resistance, making him work for the privilege of fucking her, giggling. He pushed in on her legs with more force, nibbling at her developing breasts and pointy nipples. She giggled and nibbled on his ear lobe until she spread her legs with a very impatient Aer'andil pushing himself between her legs moaning and shivering, feeling his proud, erect soldier penetrate her vaginal depths.
She wrapped her legs around him pulling him in, their tongues continuing their entangled battle. He pounded in and out of her warm, wet crevice, in and out, in and out when he felt a hand on each of his buttocks, then some pressure on his tight boyhole and then something was inside it, or rather, Norion was inside him. Following Aer'andil's fucking rhythm, he started entering him when he pulled from Tha'ala and exit him when he entered.
To them it lasted an eternity, fucking and being fucked, before the two boys cummed in glorious moans of complete bliss and collapsing on the bed, happily exhausted in each other's hands sleep overtook them.
End of chapter 1. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it and that you felt what I felt while writing it.
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