My heartfelt apologies for being so long away, real life can sometimes surprise you when you least expect it. So then, here is the next chapter, pretty much where I left off. I'm am a bit out of practice so I fear it it is probably my shortest chapter ever, but I am working on the next chapter even as I am typing this . . . I hope it answers a few questions . . .

The lamps that had been lit earlier that evening, sputtered and winked, giving off what feeble light they could. It was not enough to light the frozen path let alone hold back the darkness of the night, but the cloaked figure walking beneath them did not need to rely upon their light to find his way. The wind had died down making the walk less treacherous, but in its stead came a frigid cold that seemed to seep into the very marrow of ones bones.

From below the cliffs, lights from the anchored ships gleamed in the darkness, looking like twinkling stars fallen to earth. His step light and noiseless, Ruach D'irthaear's mind was on things other than the night's silent beauty. As he followed the path to his destination, he thought about the task ahead of him.

It was imperative that Anariel leave with him and return to either Luskan, or better yet, Neverwinter. There she would be close enough, but still apart from her family that he felt sure he could gain control of her. He hoped she would not prove to be too stubborn. A half smile appeared on his face as he entertained the idea of breaking his liege lord's eldest daughter.

A dog barked in the distance as Ruach rounded a corner, deep in thought. He continued to tick off the numerous steps to further his goals. Once Anariel was within the confines of his family compound in Neverwinter, he would encourage the immediate union of the mulish female to his younger brother, Sian.

When Ruach first conceived his plan, he and Sian had intended to marry their sister Naerwen to Lavir, thus breaching the Ni' Tessine family from within. As Lord L'orvarin's field marshall and emissary, Ruach already had access to much of elven lord's professional holdings, but by joining the illustrious house of Ni' Tessine to the lesser privileged house of D'irthaear, he would be one step closer to attaining nobility for himself and his family. But where Naerwen was docile and easy to direct, Lavir proved to be even more stubborn than his twin was now. The young elven male proved to be too clever for his own good. When he caught on to their plan and moved to stop them, it had become necessary to deal with him.

Now, with the removal of Lavir as his father's heir, and the union of his sister Anariel to Sian, things looked to be prospering once more for Ruach's family. A full smile spread across his face as he thought of the riches that would come from the marriage. Of course one could arguably say that the remaining Ni' Tessine sons could well challenge any move Ruach planned for the family's wealth and position. Both young males were away from home at present, placed as squires in noble houses in Neverwinter and Waterdeep. A cold smile settled on the trusted emissary's face, for he had been instrumental in their placement. He softly spoke aloud to the night, "But then to be a threat, they would have to remain alive. Poor Lord and Lady Ni' Tessine, how sad to have so much tragedy visited upon such a noble family."

All had been progressing rather nicely until Ruach had left to attend to military business. Gone longer than he had anticipated, he discovered upon his return that Anariel had been banished to Icewind Dale to atone for her continued disobedience. Irritated at the delay of his plans, Ruach made arrangements to come north. It was a simple matter to manipulate Lady Míriel Peranwyr to request that he come to the frozen north to retrieve her wayward daughter. The golden elf shook his head in disapproval at his liege lord and snorted his derision, addressing the night once again,"What in the nine hells were you thinking Ianter ? I know she is troublesome, but to send her to this forsaken place? And to do what, lead a band of adventurers. How laughable, the tortured little maid fighting goblin hordes. And for what, some frozen dale filled with nothing but simpletons and outcasts?"

Finally, the Weeping Widow came into view. Light spilled from its windows, lighting his path clearly. He reached for the door, his mind made up. If Anariel would not listen to reason, well, he would simply bind, and gag the headstrong female, and take her back, for he had no intention of being denied.

Ianter: elvish for 'old one'