Kandol Elf Lord

What’s that?  You want to hear Kandol Elf Lord’s story?  Well all right, but it’s a long one.  His life did span ten millennia, so there’s plenty to tell, but I promise (what would a Kandol story be without an extraneous promise or two) to stick to the highlights.  It’s impossible to tell without hitting the rewind button and going back a generation.  His story, like so many others, begins with his parents.

Elryssa was a princess of the Grey Elves and an accomplished sorceress in her own right (she specialized in illusions).  One day, she went into the forest to pick wildflowers and an Ulgarja (one of those nasty squid demons from the Darkhold) fell upon her.  The poison sent her spiraling into a swoon, where, if not for Nammydan, she might have lain there forever, swooning.  I just love that word!

Nammydan, middle son of Nammoran the Firstborn and Ylindelay (a princess of the Fair Elves and yes, there were a lot of princesses back then) came to the Grove of the Silver Birch to be trained as a high adept.  The Harnae could whip up better spells than anyone, which shouldn’t surprise you given their origins.  A generation earlier, they’d made a deal with the Seeress to train Nammoran and his heirs in exchange for the Grove’s location.  Teaching Nammydan was part of that bargain.

Now, it just so happened that shortly after Elryssa dropped into her coma Nammydan saw her while scrying in the Harnae’s pond.  Her plight so moved him (and her pretty features) that he decided to save her.  The Harnae warned Nammydan that once he left the Grove, there was no coming back, but Nammydan didn’t care.  After decades with only them for company, he was itching to leave and the swooning princess presented a golden opportunity.

Nammydan saved Elryssa from the Ulgarja poison.  When she opened her eyes, his smile was greeting her and after that first look, it was all over.  She and Nammydan were helplessly, hopelessly, in love.  As soon as Elryssa recovered her strength, the happy couple made their way to the great ring of Stones at Jahar and exchanged vows before the Earth Mother (you know Her better as the Maiden) and Humak the Beast Lord.  In exchange for their blessing, the gods claimed service from the newlywed couple’s unborn children.

Now, this was definitely one of those good news/bad news situations. On the one hand, Nammydan and Elryssa were overjoyed to learn they’d have children.  On the other, they’d saddled them with massive debt.  If they’d known how heavy the burden Kandol and Nammath would bear, they might have taken up abstinence.

It’s a credit to Kandol and his brother, Nammath (older by four years), that they entered the gods’ service willingly.  For Kandol, a channeler and Earthmage, service to the Earth Mother came easily.  You could hardly turn around in those days without tripping over an opportunity to sing Her praises and like a belter in a Baptist choir, Kandol sang his Elven heart out for Her.  He didn’t learn the extent of his parent’s vow, and the price he’d bear, until much later.

Nammath was an entirely different animal.  He wasn’t much of a spell caster – his aura couldn’t light a broom closet – and he couldn’t channel.  He was an Earthmage, but his gifts weren’t flashy like Kandol’s.  He had a knack for not being noticed and in his hands even a tree branch became a lethal weapon.  Cool as these gifts were, they didn’t have nearly the sizzle of Kandol’s, which suited Nammath just fine.  As far as he was concerned, Kandol could hog all the limelight.

Nammydan and Elryssa raised Nammath to know his destiny.  The first century passed quickly, unencumbered by divine service and Nammath began to think the Beast Lord might not call him up for duty.  Humak shot down that idea the day Andis took her Test.

At the Congress of the Gods, Lillandra decreed that every channeler take the Test of the Stones on their one hundredth birthday.  One day, she said, the Stones would proclaim a high priestess who would be the eyes of the world.  Thousands had taken the Test and failed.  For Andis’s Test , a great crowd gathered.  She showed great promise and the hillsides were abuzz with whispers that she was the one.

Just before Andis’s Test began, Humak appeared to Nammath and said it was time to make good on his parent’s vow.  This wasn’t as bad timing as it sounds.  Nammath had run into Andis (his cousin BTW) in the woods a few days before her Test.  Though cousins, neither recognized the other (Andis was raised in Indalle, Nammath in Nammovalle).  After Nammath saved her from a Maldok, she thanked him the best way possible.  Once they realized they were related, they were ashamed, doubly so because they had real feelings for each other. They were soul mates that could never again be together.

So, with regret and relief Nammath began his service to the Beast Lord.  He vanished into the west with Humak right after Andis’s victory (he watched from a safe distance) and, when I say vanished, I mean Houdini himself couldn’t have done better.  Nammath was utterly gone, like he’d never been.  After that day, he was never seen again until the end of days, when he stepped into the hero’s light.

Strike that last part, it’s not entirely true.  Nammath was seen again, but (and this is the important part) those who saw him never knew his name, or, in Kandol’s case, was wise enough not to speak it out loud.  So long as Nammath’s name remained unspoken, magik hid him from the Dark Lord.  As for how that worked, don’t noodle on it too long.  Accept it as Prophecy-assisted magik.

By now you’re wondering if you clicked on a bad link.  This was supposed to be Kandol’s story, you’re thinking, not Nammath’s.  Don’t hit that back button.  You’re exactly where you wanted to be, I’m just setting the stage.

Before Nammath left, he said good-bye to Kandol after swearing him to secrecy.  Kandol promised to keep his secret (that Nammath was alive and well and in the service of the Beast Lord), never realizing how much trouble it would cause.  If you’re keeping track, that’s the second promise binding Kandol, this one and his parent’s vow to the gods.  Promises were always Kandol’s bane.  They led to lies and guilt for which there was no cure.

When Nammydan departed the Grove to save Elryssa, he left the Harnae’s debt to the Seeress unpaid.  So, when Kandol was ready he went to the Grove to complete the unfinished deal.  The training took decades (nearly thirteen!) and transformed Kandol into a high adept.  That’s a fancy sounding title reserved for the handful of sorcerers privy to the Harnae’s bag of tricks, a very select company including Kandol, his father and his grandfather.

After finishing his training, Kandol could perform feats of magik others could only dream of – that’s how good the Harnae were.  Even Tarik, as good as he was, couldn’t match his parents when it came to the Spires.  As for who would win in a Kandol vs. Tarik match-up, flip a coin.  They never met head to head in duel arcane; Kandol was in virtual retirement by the time Tarik came out of hiding, though they did know one another from Kandol’s rare visits to the Grove.

I think the outcome would depend on when the match took place.  In terms of pure sorcery, Tarik was the stronger of the two, so in any contest after the Reckoning I’d put my money on him.  But, if Spirit’s beat was still thumping, then I’d go with Kandol.  His Earthmagery was the most powerful in any zip code.  That, coupled with his Grove-learned sorcery (which Tarik had in spades too), would give him a slight edge.

After returning from the Grove, Kandol hung out in Nammovalle for a century and a half before resuming his studies in Alyrre, the vale of the Light Elves, where Velora, daughter of King Arethnal, lived (yes, that makes her a princess too).  The first time Kandol laid eyes on his future wife, she was dancing in the wood like a chick doing the Terrapin spin at a Dead show, with veils of every color streaming from the sheer nighty she called a dress (modesty was unknown in the Elder Days, where fashion favored the risqué).

It was love at first sight (common in the Elder Days, maybe it was something in the water?) but Velora still put Kandol through his paces.  Ain’t that just like a woman?  The most learned of Alyrre’s scholars called themselves the Elders of the Seasons, a title bestowed upon those mastering an elaborate test devised to weed out those unworthy.  Velora was an Elder and until Kandol earned the honor, she played hard to get.

Eventually, true love triumphed.  Kandol did get the “Elder of the Seasons” notch on his belt and took Velora home to Nammovalle.  He showed off his not-so-new wife and sons (he’d been gone quite a while) to everyone back home, putting a huge smile on his father’s face.  After Nammath’s vanishing act and Kandol’s inclination towards perpetual study, he’d almost given up hope of becoming a grandfather.

Once back home, Kandol tucked everything he’d learned in the Grove and Alyrre into his back pocket and focused his efforts on making the most of Spirit’s magik.   He had gifts, boy did he have gifts.  As channelers go, Kandol ranked high, occupying second place on the all-time hall of fame list behind Andis (when it came to channeling, the eyes of the world could beat any challenger hands down), making him the strongest male channeler.  With his best friend, Calavenna, Kandol shared high priest[ess] duties at Najahar (Nammovalle’s Stones).  For centuries, he and Calavenna led the Fair Folk in prayer.  And, they led by example.  Kandol and Cal, as he called her, lay between the Stones together thousands of times.

Velora never showed any sign of jealousy.   She understood as well as anyone the threat One-Eye posed and the Elder Races’ role in keeping him imprisoned.  As priest and priestess, the people expected Kandol and Cal to lie together.  Think of it as their civic duty.  Lillandra had called it a sacred obligation at the Congress of the Gods, and it was, but obligation sounds so … involuntary and it wasn’t.  The people took to prayer like fish take to water.

I know this might be hard to understand, unless you’re a hippy holdover from a ‘60s free love commune.  Your Western society doesn’t typically permit relationships like Kandol and Cal’s, but you’ll have to believe me – Velora didn’t mind in the slightest.  She considered Cal a friend and when Cal died in the BUN, it hit her as hard as it hit Kandol.   I spent ten years at Pel Aesylle and if Velora had been even mildly discontent over it, I’d have sniffed it out.  Even then, thousands of years later, she mourned the loss of Cal like it had happened yesterday.

Kandol married Velora, but right up until the BUN, Calavenna remained his closest friend.  They’d been closer than you could possibly imagine (unless you and your lover have been simultaneously possessed by a goddess of passion) before Kandol’s lust for lore took him to the Light Elves in Alyrre.   Nammath’s leaving put a huge strain on their relationship.  Kandol lied to Cal afterwards.  He had to, to keep his word.  Breaking it would have had catastrophic ramifications.  Kandol didn’t single Cal  out though.  He lied to everyone – his mother, his father, anyone who would listen.  His only saving grace was the glamour over Nammath’s disappearance.  If not for that, Kandol’s tongue would have wagged crooked even more.

Nammath didn’t simply walk west – the Beast Lord nearly wiped him from the Elder Races collective memory.  I hate to keep coming back to this, but I can’t overstate how much Nammath’s fate affected Kandol.  Losing a brother wasn’t even the half of it.  His promise, and the lies that followed, shaped him more than anything.

Those closest to Nammath had the sense something was amiss.  They could even recollect that Kandol had once had a brother, but Humak’s magik made his absence natural and not worth questioning.  Still, Kandol’s lie was so encompassing, so pervasive, that he couldn’t escape it entirely, especially not with Cal, his confidant and best friend.

She knew Kandol was keeping secrets from her and it got under her skin.  He became evasive and at his worst, Cal suspected him of trading up – her for Andis – which just goes to show how dark the stories are when we’re faced with a vacuum of truth.  With Cal, Kandol established the pattern of behavior that would haunt him until the end of days.  He promised and then paid for it with lies and those lies then paved the way to overwhelming guilt.

His parents made the first promise, then Kandol followed suit with Nammath and again, with Thar and Raena when he swore to watch over Averanda and Gwynna.  You’d have thought he’d have learned his lesson by then, but for all his wisdom, Kandol subscribed to the ready, fire, aim theory when moved.  He didn’t play the regret card though.  A true champion of the Balance, he accepted the hand he’d been dealt.  In all the years I spent at Pel Aesylle, I heard sadness, wistful longing for days gone by, fond memories, triumph and tragedy, but never regret.  Kandol wasn’t one to waste time looking in his rear view mirror.

Not only was Kandol an accomplished channeler, he also possessed the greatest Earthmagery gift ever recorded – the ability to fuse [earth]song and sorcery into a greater power.  The gift belonged to Elras first (witness Caerycal’s first forging, Dellavende’s great pearl and his covenant with the trees of Elrasirre). When he died, it passed to Kandol.  The mere fact that Elras’s gift passed on was remarkable.  Every Earthmage possessed a unique gift, some potent, some not, but they never repeated and they never, ever, passed on to someone else.  Except Elras’s.  His fit Kandol like a glove.

My guess?  The Balance intervened.  As for why, well that’s more complicated.  Think of the Balance as both a huge metaphysical scale, with the pans representing good and evil, law and chaos, ying and yang, or any other dichotomous pair you care to choose, and as the fulcrum, or equilibrium point, of the aforementioned scale.

The Balance is the ultimate expression of the principle of three, which on your world was discovered by Aristotle when he stated, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”  Aristotle’s revelation wasn’t revolutionary – it merely restated more broadly the principle of three.  Hold your horses!  I’m not accusing him of anything.  It was, after all, a rather brilliant observation, and a new one for Earth, but hardly unique in the infinity of the Greater Realm.

The principle of Three, from which Aristotle’s discovery descends, is a narrower, more universal implementation of the Greek’s observation.   A child springs from two parents.  A new empire rises from warring nations.  Song and sorcery fuse into power unparalleled.  Followed to its logical end, the principle of Three explains why the Balance employs the Necessity of Opposition.  From struggle comes gain.  The Balance prospers from the Necessity.

Don’t get fooled into thinking the Balance rose from ashes of the Necessity’s struggles like some sort of phoenix.  Nothing could be more wrong.  The Necessity is an axiomatic construct created by the Balance.  The Balance is the Necessity’s once and future master.  Any uncertainty as to the outcome of this struggle or that one exists only in the present.  It’s a paradox isn’t it, on many levels?  The Balance created the Necessity because struggle is necessary, yet it’s all an illusion.  Neither side, in the ultimate struggle, has any chance of victory.  Per the principle of Three, the Balance prospers from the Necessity, yet by its nature, the Necessity works against the Balance’s coveted equilibrium.

Kandol’s gift called upon the principle of Three.  By fusing song and sorcery, his magik soared higher than either.  His gift was the great equalizer, the righter of the scales, and, the Balance deemed, too important to depart the world.  When Elras died, the Balance had the gift pass to Kandol, its chosen champion.

Serving the Balance so many years gave Kandol insight on the principle of three.  He mastered it, as much as any mortal can, and its corollaries:  symmetry, prophecy and heroism.  When the BUN descended upon Sangrar, he hurried to the Grove and pleaded with the Harnae to enter the fray.  They weren’t to warm to the prospect at first, having legitimate concerns, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer.  The fate of the world depended on them.  Symmetry demanded the three Harnae take up arms against the three Erlikarrin.  It would be a classic match-up:  demi-gods vs. godlings.

Thank Sudnar the Harnae listened.  For the first time since the Congress, they ventured outside the Grove.  They broke the Dark Ones’ siege against Nammovalle’s obsidian spires and defeated Morkanis, gaining some measure of revenge for the cruel death the God-Brute visited upon Calavenna.

Afterwards, Lillandra rewarded the Harnae with what they most desired.  Just this once, she said, Nim may conceive a child.  Now, if you remember, she had withheld her gift from them at the Pool of Life (rather petulantly IMHO), so this was a pretty big deal.

Kandol was in the Grove when Lillandra broke the surprising news.  During all the years he trained in there, Kandol never had an inkling she wanted a child.  When he thought of Nim, maternal was not the first word that came to mind.  He said that he’d never seen Nim so choked up as that day.  I suppose the thought of hold her own babe in her arms … CRASH!  That sound was me, falling over.  Now I’m picking myself off the floor.  I can’t help it … Just the thought of Tarik as a babe … LOL !!!

The gods’ generosity extended farther than the Harnae.  For Kandol’s part in the victory, Aerdran sent him a rabbit.  Looking at Ren, you’d notice his big, floppy ears and brown and white spots, nothing that would jump out as unusual, but Ren was no ordinary rabbit.  He had better instincts than most people I’ve met and was, as best Kandol could determine, indestructible.

Kandol was as close to a godfather as Tarik had.  No one else visited during those first thousand years.  Until Tarik’s coming out (introduction to the public, not a proclamation of sexual preference), Kandol was the only person he knew other than his three parents.  You could argue that Tarik owed Kandol big time.  If he hadn’t talked the Harnae into leaving their sanctum … During the Age of Mankind, Kandol and Tarik rarely crossed paths.  Kandol was content on Pel Aesylle, away from the tumult of the world, and Tarik eventually settled on Tyrnavalle, which was about as far from Pel Aesylle as you could get.  If the need arose, each could be at the other’s side in a moment’s notice.  After all, what’s a few thousand miles to far travelers?

After the BUN, Kandol, like so many other channelers, was a lost soul.  He’d stood in the Stones every day for centuries and now they were gone.  He didn’t know what to do with himself.  He took some comfort from his Earthmagery.  Through it, he could still hear Spirit’s magik thrumming in the earth’s mantle, which was better than channelers could manage.

Andis had not survived the BUN (not in any conventional sense).  In her absence, and with no Stones to conduct a second Test, the people proclaimed Kandol her heir and named him the Earth Mother’s high priest.  Kandol admitted to me that he always viewed this with mixed feelings.  Part of him wanted to forget the Earth Mother so Her honeyed-musk wouldn’t haunt him.  He also wanted to revere Her memory.

In many respects, naming Kandol high priest was an empty honor.  The Earth Mother was a dead goddess.  Why did she need a high priest?  On the plus side, Kandol’s duties were exceedingly light.  He was only called into service once every hundred years, when the Elder Races gathered at the ruins of Leyrantha to remember Her and everything lost in the BUN.

Kandol performed the anniversary service ten times.  During the tenth and last, the vile sorcerer of the Twisted Oak kidnapped the Swan Princess and you know what happened next.  Kandol, Aeris and Valdarag stepped into the heroic light and became Warrior, Prince and Priestess, Sangrar’s avatars for hope.  They chased the kidnapper from the ruins of Leyrantha to the very heart of the Darkhold.  Along the way, Kandol reunited with Nammath, found the path to Ardilun, discovered Andis alive and accepted his destiny as the Balance’s champion and hero of the Prophecies.  All that in twenty-seven days, not too shabby!

When he reached the Darkhold, Kandol wasn’t sure what to do.  The Maiden’s warning pounded in his head – that which is dead may live again.  Her advice certainly sounded important, if he only knew what it meant.  Then Her meaning rocked him and the world.  She meant for him to awaken the remnants of the Stones.  It should have been impossible.  The World Walker’s Stones had long since crumbled to ruin, but with Kandol’s Earthmagery, nothing was impossible.  Song and sorcery made the Stones whole again and Kandol became the eyes of the world and more.  He held the whole world in his hand.  One tug and it would all come tumbling down, but thousands would die.  He very nearly didn’t do it, but Andis gave him the courage to do what he must.   The Darkhold crashed and the world trembled.

The Primals put a reckoning upon the Girdle, finishing what Kandol began, and remade the world.  The ancient world collapsed and a new world rose in its place.  The strain was too much for Kandol.  He slept for three years afterward.  Most thought him dead, but Velora knew he wasn’t yet ready for the Path of the Reborn.  His promises still bound him.

When he woke, Kandol discovered that his ordeal had taken its toll in unexpected fashion.  His amber eyes still crackled like the Suns, but his hair (silver as a youth), had turned snowy white.  His face was creased with lines like one of the elderly (which he was).  Perhaps strangest of all, Kandol wore a beard, a finely manicured goatee.  I don’t know why his facial hair struck me so.  Now, if he’d been a Dwarf I wouldn’t have thought twice.  All the Forge Folk had beards – with them, it was a source of pride – but a bearded Elf?  Please!  The Fair Folks’ faces were smooth as a baby’s rump.

His aura hadn’t suffered from his trials and tribulations, it was bright as ever.  I’ve been asked before what these auras were like.  Some of you think they’re invisible bands of energy that only gifted people can see.  That’s not the case.  The auras of Sangrarian sorcerers were not at all spiritual and unrelated to chakras or any other mystical tradition.  Entirely visible, an aura could light a room easily and Kandol’s, well, his aura so strong that if he’d wanted, he could have lit the Superdome when Beyonce’s Super Bowl half-time show drained all the juice.   Luckily, a sorcerer could dampen his aura, except when casting powerful spells.  Otherwise, the Elder Races would have needed a lot of sunglasses.

After the Reckoning, Kandol made his home on/in:

A) The Dael Vyrnyn – an enchanted Elven forest in the northwest corner of Fanar

B) The Mountain of Clouds – a high, solitary peak in the Dael Vyrnyn

C) Pel Aesylle – The Mountain of Clouds, in Elvish

D) Tar-Vydael – the name of Kandol’s stronghold on Pel Aesylle’s summit

E) All of the above

If you guessed E, all of the above, you win the prize!  The Fair Folk were drawn to Pel Aesylle like bugs to a zapper and most (but not all) came to call Pel Aesylle home.  A few settled far to the south on Tyrnvalle and a handful of others lived solitary lives.  Velora managed it for the first few years, while Kandol was sleeping, with the help of their sons.  As for the rest of Nammoran’s extended family, most took the Path.  When Kandol awoke, he was the most noble of those remaining and named high king of the Fair Folk, an honor he grudgingly accepted.

After all the struggles he’d been through, Kandol wanted only to rest, but his people still needed him and so did the Balance.  Once a hero, always a hero, or so the saying goes.  Stated differently, once the Balance has its claws in you … in the words of Neil Sedaka, breaking up is hard to do.

The Age of Mankind had begun and Kandol was a necessary anachronism in a new world.  This age belonged to man and the Fair Folk, like the other Elder Races, made way for the new age’s champions.  But, the Fair Folk weren’t all that had survived from the Elder Days.  The Dark Lord had escaped the Darkhold’s destruction and fled to the Darkstar, a star Majestrix had reserved in his name.  He brought the Erlikarrin with him, and Dark Ones and even the Traitor, now high in the Dark Lord’s councils, much to the chagrin of Cthar.  The Traitor and the Stealer of Souls had never settled their old score.

Early in the tenth century of the age, the Traitor departed the Darkstar and made a new home on Sangrar, in the swamps that became known as the Shadowgrim.  He took on a new name, the Shadow Lord, and bred horrors to march against Mankind.  Kandol would not tolerate such an evil taking root on his doorstep (yes, the Shadowgrim was hundreds of miles from Pel Aesylle, but Kandol, ever the noble hero, considered the entire world his home).  He looked for volunteers to go east and keep an eye on his old enemy.  Aeris and Ilnaya’s hands shot up first.  They, more than anyone, had reason to hate the Traitor and Kandol knew they’d remain vigilant.   The couple struck out for the Dael Shaelyn (aka the Briarwood) and established the Elvenhome Dol Melerith in the hollow at the heart of the forest.

Kandol knew that arms alone were insufficient to stem the Shadow Lord’s spread of evil.  To keep man safe from harm, Kandol had to give them something to hope for and believe in that would grant strength to fend off evil’s insidious whispers.  And so, he gave them the Maiden.  In the dead goddess, he hoped man would find fortitude.  He came down from Pel Aesylle to the southwestern coast of Fanar, wandering from village to village and telling tales of the Elder Days and the Maiden’s splendor.  One of those villages, no more than a collection of thatched huts behind the dunes, had no name when Kandol visited, but later, after Thar who was Umbar fell from Heaven, it became known as Sangrithar.

Kandol’s approach to proliferating the dead goddess’s religions had its merits.  It was also self-serving.  He missed the Maiden like a recovering alcoholic misses the bottle.  In teaching Mankind Her lessons, he soothed his own troubled soul.  If you stop and think about it, a god more … alive … might have been a better choice.  How about Finbardin, King of Heaven?  Surely the golden one could have inspired man.  Or the newly come Vanara, gods born during the Reckoning’s untime.  More than any Elder God, the Vanara were meant for Mankind.  Or what about Deridean the Councilor, Harnor Lord of the Spires, the Seeress, or The Lady of Esel, who held a special place in Kandol’s heart?  The list goes on and on, yet Kandol chose to promote the Maiden (he ditched Lady, Crone and the all-encompassing Earth Mother in favor of the much simpler Maiden).  If he hadn’t been Her high priest, do you think he would have chosen Her, given all those other fine choices?

Fast forwarding another nine hundred years takes us to the arrival of Thar who was Umbar.  Kandol told me he knew Thar’s true identity, but never said how he came by his knowledge.  For all I know, he watched Umbar fall.  Kandol was an Elf of many talents.  At any rate, when Thar and Raena came to Pel Aesylle with the girls, Kandol promised to watch over them and their children.  What’s worse, he swore by the Flame, the most binding oath possible.  The way Kandol told it, Velora nearly took his head off and I believed him!  While I was his guest, Velora made a sour face if he promised to shut the door.  Just do it, she’d say, like some Nike spokesman.   Don’t talk about it, do it.

He made good on his oath by sending the princes of Dol Melerith, Maelryn and Emerre to Sangrithar.  It seems like a big favor to ask, but they’d have done anything for their high king.  They swore to uphold Kandol’s oath to the Flame and headed for the growing village at Belgrith Harbor.

For the next five thousand years, Kandol and the Fair Folk led quiet, reflective lives, perking up to defend against the occasional incursion of Dark Ones.  The heart of the Dael Vyrnyn was pretty darn safe thanks to enchantments Kandol (and Velora, as she reminded me more than once) wove about the wood, but the farther you went from Pel Aesylle, the greater the chance you’d run into Dark Ones.  Whenever report of a Skulf incursion or a band of marauding Trolls floated up to Kandol on the summit, he’d dispatch Fair Folk to deal with them or, if the mood struck him, go himself, though that became less common over time.

For all his power, for all his accomplishments, Kandol didn’t revel in his success.  By the time I knew him, humility ruled him, not pride.  He said more than once that he’d most like to be remembered as a healer, as a kind and gentle soul, not for his bloodier exploits, and I hope I’ve done him justice.  He lives now only in my words and in your imagination.

Throughout the Age of Mankind, Kandol claimed retirement, which he had certainly earned, but deep down inside, he knew he was only on sabbatical.  Kandol stood champion for the Balance and hero for the Prophecies.  So long as they remained unfulfilled, he could not truly rest.

Kandol didn’t see Emerre and Maelryn again until Hali’s time, nearly five thousand years later.  The reunion was … difficult.  Guilt swelled in Emerre for Avara’s death, and for letting Kandol down.  Kandol wasn’t quick to forgive him.  He could look past Avara’s death, but not Emerre’s behavior afterwards, behavior of which he was fully aware.  Kandol lived on a solitary mountaintop, not in solitary confinement.  With all the magik at his fingertips, information came to him at 4G-like speed.

Emerre did try to tell Kandol the truth, but Kandol wouldn’t listen.  He believed Emerre spoke from the heart, that Emerre believed every word of it.  He also believed that Emerre had it all twisted, that too much time in the Shadowgrim had frittered away his reason.

Later, Kandol admitted to me that he’d gotten it wrong.  He should have listened to the grim warrior, but pride, the sin of his youth (back in the day, he proudly displayed his titles like Eagle Scout badges – sorcerer, high adept, channeler, Earthmage, prince, Elder) prevented him.  That day he reunited with Emerre, Kandol demonstrated the worst kind of pride, the same you’ve seen a thousand times on screen – the leader who would not listen.  Impressed by his own diagnosis, Kandol dismissed everything the grim warrior said as the delusional ravings of a madman.

It wasn’t until later, after everything came to a head in the Quendi Forest, that Kandol learned the truth.  To his credit, he learned from his mistake.  After seeing the price, Kandol let go the last of his pride.  It washed away, like water down the drain.

More than two thousand years passed between Hali’s visit to Pel Aesylle and the beginning of the Long Night.  I came to Pel Aesylle in the year 2108 RT (that’s 6833 SY and the 8632nd year of the age, in case you’re keeping track).  I stayed until 2124 RT, just three years before the beginning of the end.  After sixteen years at the Elvenhome, I knew Kandol Elf Lord well, as well as any man can understand someone of his ilk.

He’d sobered since the God-Emperors had fallen.  Living with his mistake ate away at him, though his new guilt paled before the old guilt swimming in promises and lies.  He’d kept so much to himself over the years – Nammath, Andis, Ardilun and the Balance more than anything – that I think he was glad to unburden himself on me.  He told me The Tale of Ages, from beginning to end, which no one else could have done.  No one else had seen so much, had lived through so much.  In all the world, only Kandol could tell The Tale and I was honored that he’d chosen to tell it to me.  It began famously, “There has always been the Void …” and the rest, as they say, is history.

When I left, I knew we’d never meet again, as did he.  We both sensed the end was near.  I looked to the future with anticipation, whatever it held, but Kandol approached it with a sense of relief.  He had served so long and was ready to rest.  He went to his destiny believing he’d reunite with his lost loved ones and before the Long Night cast its shadow, he did.

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