A light breeze swept in over the garden where Shimmer was tending to her roses, playing with a lock of her light blonde hair. Shimmer caught the errant lock and stuck it behind her ear, looking up as she heard someone approaching. She smiled as she saw her good friend Shyla coming down the pebbled path that led through the forest.
Shyla was one of the first people Shimmer had met when she first came out of the forest where she’d lived the first part of her life, raised by a tribe of wolves. Together with Shimmer’s uncle Ploister, Shyla had taught Shimmer to speak and act amongst humans and elves, not only wolves. Shimmer was aware that her language was at times still lacking, therefore she tended to speak more clear and elaborated than necessary, and her grammar sometimes left much to desire.Smiling happily Shyla entered the garden. She was a sweet woman with long, dark hair and dark blue eyes. Being a half elf she was a little bit taller than a normal elf, but still slender and with the characteristic eyes and ears from an elf.
“Hi, Shimmer? How are you? I see that no good husband of yours isn’t around.” Shyla said as Shimmer stood up to greet her.
Shimmer couldn’t help smiling. She had to change that observation a little. Shyla was an almost always sweet woman, as long as it wasn’t concerning Shimmer’s husband, Nisse. Shyla had never completely come over the fact that her friend had married an ogre. She was of the distinct opinion that ogres were good for nothing but growling.
“Greetings, Shyla. I am well, thank you. And Nisse is inside the house.” Shimmer grinned at her friend while saying the last part. She was rewarded by a large groan.
“I was hoping you’d have gotten rid off him by now.”
“You know I would never do that”, Shimmer smiled, brushing some dirt off her skirt. “What brings you here?”
Shyla immediately forgot all about complaining about Nisse. “Oh! I have some news I wanted to share with you.”
“Wonderful. I love news. Let’s sit down for a moment, shall we?”
They went up on the porch that covered the front of Shimmer’s and Nisse’s house and sat down on a small porch swing.
“So, tell me.” Shimmer said. “Does it have anything to do with the quest I heard about?”
“Do you remember the castle where Lunah last held a ball?”
Shimmer smiled. “Yes. It really was a lovely place.”
“Some people made a quest out of finding out who the loving couple who put their names on the table in the tower were.” Shyla told her.
“Really? And did they succeed?”
Shyla smiled. “Yes, and you can’t believe who it was. I know I can barely believe it.”
Shimmer frowned a little. When Shyla said nothing, she sighed heavily. “Are you not going to tell me?”
“Sure I will.” Shyla giggled. “I just wanted you to be curious enough about it.”
Shimmer made a grimace.
“It was my parents.”
That was not the answer Shimmer had expected. She stared at Shyla.
“Your parents? How is that possible?”
“It was before I was born, mind you.” Shyla said. “Turns out they lived there until they were chased away. The elves my father came from not accepting him being married to a human woman.”
“I do not know what to say.” Shimmer was baffled to say the least. Then she frowned a little, knowing Lunah rather well. “Do you suspect there was some alternate reason why Lunah would summon a castle from the past, your past, to hold a ball?”
Shyla snorted. “Knowing Lunah, I’m quite certain.”
Shimmer giggled. “Then what are we waiting for? Let us go there and have a look to see if we can find something that the others missed.”
“Yes! Let’s do that!” Shyla smiled. “I knew you’d want to help!”
“Help with what?” a voice grumbled from the door to the house.
Shimmer looked up to see her husband leaning against the doorpost, his arms crossed over his chest. He didn’t look at her at the moment, but was glaring at Shyla. A quick glance proved that Shyla was returning his glare tenfold. To avoid them coming to blows, Shimmer got off the porch swing and walked over to her husband.
Smiling up at him she got his attention off Shyla. “I’m going with Shyla to have a look in the old castle where Lunah held a ball not too long ago.”
That had him frowning again. “Why?”
“Because we think there is more to it than what people have found so far.”
“You better bring the children, Shimmer.” Shyla cut in. “We can’t leave them in the hands of that ogre. He’ll have then snatched right out of his hands.”
Nisse started growling, glaring at Shyla, and looking as if he’d do nothing rather than wring her neck. Shyla could never resist baiting him about the time that Cloud had been kidnapped by a troll in an unguarded moment. Nisse had quickly, with a little help, gotten him back unharmed, but to Shyla that was a minor detail.
“I am quite certain that Nisse can take care of the kids.” Shimmer told Shyla, who only scoffed.
“We could bring some food and drinks and have a picnic with them.” She continued, making Shimmer sigh.
“Picnic?” She heard a loud cheer behind her and turned around to see her twin sons with smiles almost too big to fit on their faces standing in the garden.
“Are we going on a picnic mommy?” Leaf asked, looking imploringly at her.
Shimmer groaned. She hadn’t expected to bring the whole family for this.
“Actually,” she said. “I thought that you two could go over to Mithrandir and see if Sharin can come out and play with you. Mayhaps the three of you can have a picnic in Mith’s garden, while your daddy, I and Shyla go and finish some business.”
That brought out protests from all of them. In the end she succeeded to convince them all though, and the twins ran off to find Mithrandir and his daughter. Nisse and Shyla were persuaded into spending enough time in each other’s company to explore the castle.
To be able to reach the castle they needed Lunah’s help, as the castle was enchanted, and they didn’t know where it actually lay. Lunah had magically summoned all the guests for the ball. It took a little time before they could contact her, but as soon as they got a response from the Goddess they were magically transferred to a rainbow bridge that was leading up to a large castle. The last they saw of Lunah was when she waved with a mischievous grin and disappeared.
“Shall we go in?” Shimmer asked the others. Standing on a rainbow bridge made her feel uncomfortable, and she wanted to get inside as soon as possible.
The others nodded and Nisse opened the large gate to peer inside.
“It’s empty.“ He said and opened the gates wide.
They looked through the castle trying to find anything that seemed out of place, but it looked the same as it had the night of the ball, only empty. Up in the tower they found the wooden table where Shyla’s parents had once carved their names in.
“There’s no use.” Nisse said and leaned against the wall. “We’ll never find anything in here. This was a stupid idea from the start.”
“It wasn’t!” Shyla protested. “I don’t believe it was coincidence that Lunah summoned this castle.”
Shimmer was looking down at the wooden table. Where before magic had prevented the names from being seen, you could now clearly see the wooden carving. She frowned.
“Yes?” Shyla came over to look down on the table.
“Was your father’s name Skywise?” Shimmer asked.
Shyla nodded. “My name starts with S after him.”
“You know…” Shimmer looked thoughtful, absently chewing on a lock of hair.
Nisse was frowning by now. “Skywise? But, Shimmer, wasn’t that the name that old witch gave you for your father?”
Shyla looked up at Shimmer, who nodded.
“It was, indeed.” A new voice suddenly said and they all turned around to see an old witch who seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. She was dressed in a dark dress and her gray hair was bound in a tight bun at the top of her head. The old lady looked at the two women and smiled slowly.
“Friends for so long, and never knowing you were half sisters. Who would have known?” she said.
Shimmer and Shyla looked at each other, suddenly feeling a bit shy towards each other. Then they both smiled widely and hugged each other. At that moment Shimmer happened to cast a glance towards Nisse. He looked like he was going to get sick, his face was actually turning green.
“Half sisters to be exact.” Shyla said smugly.
Nisse positively looked like he was going to vomit. “Then she’s my… My sister in law?”
Shimmer went up to Nisse and touched his arm. “It is not so bad, love.”
“Not so bad?” He stared at her. “I’m in the same family as the devil incarnated!”
“Hey! I take exception to that!” Shyla protested loudly. “And you don’t have to be my brother in law. You can leave Shimmer alone!”
“Enough!” Shimmer yelled. “You two shall have to get along together, it is as simple as that. I love you both, and I do not plan to leave either one of you. Understood?”
Shyla and Nisse both grumbled, but neither said anything more. Shimmer turned to the old witch.
“You knew all along, did you not?” she asked. “When I came to see you to ask about my father long ago, you already knew.”
The witch nodded. “I did. But it wasn’t time for you to know yet.”
“Can you tell us what really happened?” Shyla asked.
The witch nodded.
“Your father Skywise was a member of a very proud elven tribe. He fell in love with a human woman, and together they hid from his tribe in this castle. They had a fine time together, but it was bound to end. The tribe finally found out about them, and they were forced to flee. They lived together for a few years in another part of the lands, they had a daughter.” At this point she looked up at Shyla. “But Skywise missed the companionship of his tribe, and after a few more years he left his family to visit them. During this time he met Shimmer’s mother and got her with child. He then returned to his family. The rest of the story you know already.”
Shyla and Shimmer nodded sadly. Neither of them had gotten to know their father very well. Shimmer not at all, and for Shyla he’d been absent most of her childhood, and he had died shortly after returning to them.
The witch gave them a curt nod, and disappeared as quickly as she’d come. The three were standing baffled in the middle of the tower room, Nisse with a frown on his face, Shimmer and Shyla with a half smile on their lips. They finally knew the whole story of their heritage, even if it had been bit of an unexpected surprise.