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Anthelsya heard the door open and looked up. Seeing who entered the room, she smiled, put down the embroidery she had been working on and walked to the man and embraced him. Her husband was soon to go on a long trip. He would be away for several years in another elven city, visiting with a temple there. This was not the first time he had gone on such trips, nor would it be the last. As an elf, the time wasn’t such a bother to her, but she did worry about her son. He had just been dealt a terrible disappointment, and needed his father there to help him get over it.

Thinking about her son made her smile. His enthusiasm for the new pastime his father had introduced him to was incredible. The boy would stand outside for hours on end, shooting arrow after arrow into the targets set up in the woods behind the house.

Almost, as if sensing her thoughts, the man looked past her through a window at the back of the house.

“How is he doing?” Evernon asked.

“He is improving. Reminds me of a certain young elf I once knew…” Anthelsya smiles coyly at her husband. “A certain handsome young elf who is about to go away for a long time, leaving his half of the bed cold…”

Evernon grinned down at his wife. “Well, if Finnie is occupied, I suggest we go upstairs and see how warm we can make the bed now before I leave.”

  • * * * *

Several hours later, Anthelsya lay on her now empty bed. The sheets were strewn about the room in disregard, and the lights had not yet been turned on, though the sun sat low in the sky.

Anthelsya thought back, relishing the last few hours she had with her husband. Perhaps he would come home a few seasons early. Then they could play the encore to this afternoon. She smiled sweetly to herself at the thought and got out of bed. She had better dress and see to her son. If left to himself, he might burn down the house on another of his cooking attempts.

  • * * * *

Meanwhile, in the depths of the [Abyss], a great evil smiled. It was not a kind smile. His plans had crystallized in his mind, and the time was right. A piece of his revenge would come to pass soon.

  • * * * *

The seasons passed. Anthelsya watched her son grow in his skills with the bow. She brought to him texts from the temple. Texts that would prepare him for his new goal in life, to follow in his father’s footsteps in the temple of Solonor. Young Finglass was growing up. He was almost seventy years old now, it was almost time for him to begin his apprenticeship to the temple. Erilith hoped Arrendennel would be home for that day. Her son would like it if his father was there to welcome him to the order.

As Anthelsya began to turn down the lamps and prepare for bed, the door opened quietly behind her. When she turned to see who had come into her bedroom she smiled, and embraced the man warmly.

  • * * * *

The next morning, Anthelsya woke up slowly, without opening her eyes she stretched languidly and rolled over to hug her husband, but her arms encountered only an empty bed. She sat up quickly and looked around, frowning. It wasn’t like her husband to be up so soon after his first night home. Where could he be? Did he have something to do at the temple? She shrugged and got up. She might as well start unpacking for him. He could tell her of the trip when he was done with his business. Erilith frowned again. Where were his clothes? He always left them at the foot of the bed in their bags for her to take care of.

“Finnie, have you seen you father this morning?” Anthelsya asked as she came down the delicate wooden stairs of their home.

“Mo-om! I told you to stop calling me that. I’m almost seventy now. It’s time to stop calling me my childhood name. And what are you talking about? Father is not supposed to come home for some time now.”

Anthelsya put her hand on the banister to steady herself. Her head swam. But he had been home last night. They shared the night together. He had been there, hadn’t he? Was it all a dream? But it was too real. She could feel in herself that he had been.

“Mother? Are you alright?” [Finglass] jumped up at his mother’s first sign of wilting and supported her. He walked her to the table and poured for her a cup of sweet tea.

“I’m fine, Finnie. Just still tired, I suppose…” Something was not right. She could feel it in her heart.

  • * * * *

The seasons continued to pass, and something was not right. Anthelsya was pregnant. She would soon give birth. She talked to the acting head of the temple, and he did not know what could have happened. Evernon had not been to the village and was not due back for some days still. There was something not normal about her child. The priests could not divine what it was, but all knew something was badly amiss. Perhaps her husband would have some idea when he came home…

Three days later he did come home. He came home and found his wife on the verge of labor with a child that he had no knowledge about. He quickly set about the preparations and called for the village midwife. He would find out what happened after the child was born.

After many hours of hard labor, the child came forth. The head emerged, to be followed by a small body wrapped in dark, leathery wings.

  • * * * *

Anthelsya was sick with worry and confusion. The shock of the birth sent her into a near comma like state. For several days her mind wrestled with the fact that she gave birth to a demon spawn. When she emerged from her state of stupor, she was greeted with the sight of her husband smiling down at her with a cloth wrapped bundle in his arms.

Anthelsya then sat silently as her husband told her what must have happened. The demon he had banished several decades before must have been able to send a servant to this plane. It had cloaked itself in a spell to look like him and laid with her to impregnate her. The demon was unable to yet come to this plane himself, but he thought this would be an attack on [Evernon].

Anthelsya listened in shock, then realized what he was holding. Her child, the demon spawn. Why was it still there? Why was it alive? He quietly held the baby out to her. She hesitated, then reached out with trembling hands and took it from him. The child in her arms looked just like herself as a child. It was a girl. The baby looked up at her with deep purple eyes and smiled, then reached out a tiny hand to her mother’s nose.

Evernon smiled tenderly at the sight. “I thought we might call her Valendaria.”

Anthelsya looked up at him quickly, surprised. Realizing what he was saying, her heart grew with even more love for this man she chose as her husband. “You will love her just as you love Finglass.” There was no question in her voice.

  • * * * *

The years passed, and Valendaria grew. Finglass knew what she was and where she came from. He was never kind to her, and often ignored her, never able to reconcile that she was the spawn of some filth that crawled out of the Abyss. Val didn’t understand why her older brother was so mean to her until much later, instead she turned to bask in the love her parents showed her. She didn’t play with the other few children in the village. They gave her a wide berth most of the time. Always slightly uneasy around her. Her sanctuary came from the other odd child her mother and father welcomed into their home.

Anterias, the half dwarf, half dragon grew up with her. He was even more different than she was, and she welcomed that with a glad heart. He was an outcast like she was and quickly became her best friend. She was only sad that her brother didn’t treat him the same. Finglass would take Anterias with him to train, and talk with and go for walks in the woods. She would have to quietly sneak from tree to tree behind them and listen in on their conversations with a jealous heart. Why did her brother not love her? What was wrong with her? Anterias wasn’t even half his blood.

  • * * * *

As the years passed, Val grew to accept her place in the village. She knew she was different and learned to accept the distance her brethren gave her. What she could never learn to accept was the cold way her brother treated her. She grew to hate him as much as he did her. There were often fights at the house until Finglass moved into the temple. In the end, she was glad to be rid of him and have her parents more to herself. They and Anterias were still the only ones who would truly enjoy her for herself.

To spite the cruel elves around her, Val began to learn tricks. She taught herself how to blend in with her surroundings, passing unnoticed by the others in the village. She learned how to listen to others, finding out their secrets and embarrassments. She then taught herself how to let herself into their rooms. She felt like a wraith those nights, gliding silently from one house to another, learning of this secret, quietly taking something to reveal that secret, then waited for the morning when the realizations would come. Oh how she delighted in tricking and teasing the cold people about her. But they did deserve it all, didn’t they?

  • * * * *

Eventually, Val grew bored of her life in the village. Her brothers were both out adventuring in the human lands. Finglass, curse his soul, had even begun the work of setting up his own church. Who did he think he was? Did he think he could ever be as good as his father? She wanted to leave the village behind as well. She did not like the thought of leaving her mother and father, but how could she live here? She could constantly feel the stares about her. She was never accepted or allowed to pass without those stares following her.

One day her father came to her. “Val, dearest child, your mother and I have come to a decision…”

  • * * * *

That morning, Val set out. She was excited. Soon she would see her brother Anterias again. She couldn’t wait to hear the tales he would have for her when she arrived at her brother’s church. And oh, she couldn’t wait to see the look on that pompus fool’s face when he saw who father had sent to help him out. She was going to enjoy tormenting him in any way she could. Oh yes, life had definitely taken a turn for the better. Now she was going to finally get something good out of the world, even if she had to sneak in and take it for herself.