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Disclaimer: I do not own The Pellinor Series, otherwise, the books would stink.

A Visit from a Not-So Stranger

Clutching Adnaë in his arms, Cadvan ran into the dark, coolness of night, his chest heaving in great sobs of breath. His dark hair whipped about his face as he ran, and the roar of wind was loud in his ears. Rain began trickling from the sky, and Adnaë began to cry.

"Shh-shh. You'll be okay…." His voice trailed off, and despite his iron will, his voice broke, and a single tear rushed out of his eye. Nothing was okay anymore. How could he lie to his daughter? He had just seen Maerad…Maerad…..he couldn't even think about it. More tears welled in his eyes, and the anguish was almost unbearable. The baby in his arms quieted down, and Cadvan looked sadly at her. She was all he had left of Maerad. He had to protect her with all of his might, protect her from anything. Suddenly, Cadvan burst into tears. They trickled down his face in great runnels, and the rain mixed with his tears, sweet with bitter. He held the child close to him, cradling her; just her warm body near his was comfort enough.

"I swear to you, Adnaë, by everything I hold sacred, I will protect you. I wasn't strong enough to save your mother, so I will save you, from anything that threatens. You are all I have left. You are all I have left," he repeated, voice shaking with emotion. He stood up, and looked around. He must leave this place; go to somewhere safe. He took a deep breath, and stepped into the quiet, leaving everything he knew and loved behind. The wind rustled in the leaves of surrounding trees a little sadly. The clouds were dark that night.

………………………………..

"Father?" Adnaë called anxiously.

"In here," he called, his voice floating musically back from the study, where he spent most of his time.

Her slim form walked quickly to the door, and stepped inside. Her hair fell unbound down her back, and it fell down her back in a long cascade. As she stepped in, Cadvan looked up, and she noted the look of surprise on his face. But she was used to it by now. Ever since Adnaë had turned 16, her father had seemed somber more of the time, sad and solitary. And he always had that look of surprise in his eyes every time he glanced up at her. She toyed with the idea of asking him about the strange looks, but decided against it. Something told her not to.

Other than that, she and her father were close. They spent nearly all of their time together, and he protected her from anything that came her way, even more than she knew. He loved her fiercely, as did she.

"So," he asked, raising an eyebrow, "what do you need?"

Adnaë's eyes grew dark, and slightly nervous. "Someone told me something today," she began uncertainly. She heard Cadvan's sharp intake of breath.

"What did they say," he asked, his voice slightly strained.

"They…they said that…that…," her voice trailed off. He waited expectantly, and then she resumed shakily.

"They said that…that I used to have a mother, and that you never talked about her because…..because you killed her. They called you a liar and thief, and a murderer. Is it…….true?"

The blood drained from Cadvan's face. "Oh no," he whispered, covering his face with his hands. It took her a while to figure out that he was crying, and when she realized this, she was instantly alarmed. Her father NEVER cried, not for anyone or anything. Or, at least, not when she had seen him. Once, she had thought that she could hear the faint sound of sobbing through the walls late at night, but she had assumed it was the wind. Soon, though, he sat up, tears still sparkling in his eyes.

"Oh, Adnaë. How grievous is the seed of suspicion planted in a neighbor's heart! No, I never killed your mother. Yet, it was my fault she died…." Another tear spilled from his eye. "They probably still haven't guessed who she was."

"How would they know?" she blurted out, before she could stop herself.

A sly smile tugged the corners of his mouth. "Everyone knew your mother," he said. He looked up sadly at Adnaë. "She was your age when I met her, and she was milking a cow in the cot where she was kept as a slave. It was I who rescued her, brought her out of that world and into ours, the lovely world of Bards. I had already begun to suspect that your mother was fated and that she would cast down the Nameless One in his darkest rising, as all the prophecies said, and that..."

Adnaë interrupted him quickly. "But…but the fated one was, was…"

This time Cadvan interrupted her. "Yes, your mother was Maerad of Pellinor. Together, we brought down the Nameless and restored the Treesong. We fell in love along the way. I saved her from herself in the final battle, and that was when I knew I must spend the rest of my life with her. We were wed, and after 5 years, we had you. And then, not a mere 8 months later, I….." his voice broke and he turned away and lay his head down on the table, his shoulders heaving with the pain of undimmed grief and searing loss. She thought he would not continue, but he did, his voice muffled and filled with longing and sadness.

"I woke up late one night, and she was dead beside me. I remember that day so clearly, it was so horrible. The bed was covered in blood, her blood. I picked her up, and she felt so limp, so weak, so…gone. I found a note scribbled-in her blood, her blood, Adnaë-and it said that I had one hour to get out of the house before they killed me, too. Then I remembered you. I heard your cries and ran into that room, tripping over objects in the dark. In the nursery, I found you crying in your bed, and I knew I had to leave, had to get away before they got you, as well. So I left. I left it all behind. I remember that as soon as I got out of the house, it caught fire, and I suspect that whoever murdered your mother was intent on making sure everyone in the house was dead. I am glad that we escaped in time. I couldn't have born it if I had lost you, too. It was awful, Adnaë."

Adnaë was shocked at this new information. Her mother, Maerad of Pellinor? How was it possible? And yet, she knew that he had traveled with her (it was in all of her Ancient Lore books), she had just never assumed anything came out of their friendship. She just thought that she was his student, but it was certainly more than that.

And she had never known her. A terrible loneliness swept over her. Her friends had mothers, but not her. She had had one once, but she must have been too young to remember. And she had been murdered. By who, though, was the real question.

She looked up questioningly at her father. "Who….who killed her?" she asked hesitantly.

Cadvan looked up, passionate anger a fire in his eyes. "I don't know. And yet I hate whoever it was with all of my heart. She didn't deserve death. She never hurt anyone, and she was important in the survival of the world as we know it. I guess that it was a survivor of the Nameless' Army, and he did it for revenge."

Adnaë dared another question. "What did she look like?"

For a long time, she wasn't sure if he was going to answer. Then he did a strange pass with his hands, and closed his eyes. In the room a sudden light gathered, and then it faded, and in its place was a beautiful woman. She was dressed in a crimson robe, and her black hair was unbound down her back. A smile was on her gentle face, and she looked flushed, as if she had just been laughing. Her left hand was curved in an ugly claw, but it did not affect her beauty in any way. She was gazing towards the door, and from that direction suddenly appeared a man, a man Adnaë knew to be her father. He seemed happy, happier than she had ever seen him, and he ran to the woman and kissed her. When they pulled apart, they smiled at each other, and turned to face Adnaë and Cadvan, love shining in their eyes. The image faded, and Adnaë felt sad, sad that she had missed out on a family, sad that she had never had the chance to know what having a mother was like. Cadvan was staring at the place where she had been, a lost expression on his face. Smiling sadly, he turned to Adnaë.

"This world is filled with such hurts. We must keep our memories, and yet we must live on as well. And I still have you. You are so much like her, you know, and yet so different. You are my perfect daughter."

She crossed the room and embraced him. They stood like that for a long time. Suddenly, a cold wind blew into the room, and they pulled apart. The windows were not open, and the door remained closed. Adnaë wondered where the draft had come from, and then she realized that they were not alone. A woman stood there. Rather, she was not a woman, but a ghost or spirit. It was….(dare she say it?)….Maerad of Pellinor. She walked to Cadvan, who stood frozen in the spot. She put a silvery hand on his cheek, and spoke in the speech. "You have done well, love of my life. She is beautiful, and our true daughter. Yet I see that you are dying inside. Do not forget, I am not merely dead, just in another world. We will meet again. I love you more than I could ever have said, Cadvan of Lirigon," she kissed him, and ghostly tears fell down her face onto his cheeks. Cadvan was crying now, too.

"Beloved Maerad, I could never forget you. I love you. Remember me, past the gates, so we may rejoice in our love forevermore," he said echoing the words he had said in the battle, so long ago. She nodded vigorously, her eyes shining with tenderness and love. The she turned to Adnaë.

"Your quest is hard, my wonderful daughter. Peril shall be in your life as much as mine, and I beg you to not forget those you love, and remember those who love you, and not refuse that love. I will watch over you. I love you, my dear."

She smiled lovingly at her, then turned to Cadvan. "I am yours," she whispered.

"And you are mine," he whispered back. She placed a hand on his shoulder, then turned away, and faded into the room. She was gone. Cadvan stared after her longingly, and then he laughed suddenly. "She has not forgotten me. I will remember."

He smiled at Adnaë, and she smiled back. "We can live today," he said, "because we remember yesterday, and keep memories in our hearts forever."

They faced each other smiling, knowing one thing in their hearts: Maerad remembered, and so would they. He took fast her hand, and they walked out of the study, ready to face whatever awaited them.

Hope you liked it! Reviews would be greatly appreciated...