The afternoon sun loomed high in the sky over the dazzling city of Arlathan. A young elf sat a old mahogany desk with the Vir'Dirthara’s grand walls. Tamlen enjoyed spending his summer days reading books on history or magical algorithms. Most of the time he was closed odd by his peers for most thirteen year old boys would rather spend their summers pulling pranks or doing stupid things with their friends.
Tamlen’s parents hated the idea of him participating in such things. He was overly smart for someone his age. He was talented in many things and he had managed to secure a marriage plan to the daughter of one of the more powerful family’s of Arlathans nobility.
He stood with a sigh as he shut his book. Slowly, he walked over to the shelf sliding it back into place. The Vir'Dirthara was a work in progress by the God Dirthamen, the God of Secrets and Knowledge. He turned to his side slightly to find a spirit of compassion standing next to him.
“Would you like another book?”
Tamlen smiled shaking his head.
“Thank you for offering Compassion but I must decline. I promised I’d meet my friend Nero today.”
“I see. Well, I will see you again won’t I?”
“Of course, I always come here.”
Tamlen left rather quickly. He ran down the library’s steps into the small plaza situated in front of the grand building. A tall dark skinned elf with golden eyes and long silver hair blowing slightly in the gently breeze stood, leaning against the fountain with his arms crossed. He looked up, smiling upon seeing Tamlen.
“You’re here, good.”
Nero was four years older than Tamlen. They’d met through one of his families parties and became instant friends.
“Now I have something fun planned today.”
Tamlen followed Nero down the back streets. They ducked in and out of alleyways, making sharp turns every now and then until they emerged out into another plaza. Tamlen looked up at the grand temple in from of him. It was the temple dedicated to Dirthamen. The moved closer before Nero point to it.
“They say Dirthamen himself will appear to those worth of his time.” He smirked. “What I want you to do is go in there and see if he appears.”
Tamlen crossed his arms, bushing some hair from his face as he eyed Nero. “Why me? Can you do it yourself?”
Nero sighed. “Tamlen, listening to me. You’re smarter than me…and a you’re quite a bookworm.”
He sighed. “Alright, fine but if my parents find out I did this and get mad at me because of this…I’m blaming you.”
“Alright, I’ll take the blame but only this once.”
Tamlen scoffed as Nero gave him a cocky smile.
He slowly made his way up the steps into the temple. He walked though the open doors into the main entrance hall. Adults, children and elves his age stood or sat with open books in their hands. He looked around for a few moments before pulling out a book on advanced magical algorithms. He sat at the hearted vacant desk, opening the book. He read for hours until he noticed the sun had set.
He replaced the book before returning home. Something about that temple made him feel at peace for the first time in his life. He sat in his room, staring up at the stars twinkling in the night sky. His parents didn’t question where he had during the day or why he arrived so late, one of the servants had brought him a tray of food which sat on his desk and remained untouched.
I must go back…I want to learn more…I must somehow get passed the priests guarding the other sections too…
He thought to himself.
The very next day he started to write up a plan, he needed to get further into the temple. The further you went the more advanced the books became. Each are was aged stricter. There were guards that rotated on shifts, leaving their posts empty for short periods of time. For days he monitored each guards movements, carefully jotting the information down in a small note book he had.
Three years passed them by. Tamlen stopped one day at Mythals just to see what it looked like. He was lost within its greats walls to the point he couldn’t figure out which way he had entered it.
“Are you lost?”
Tamlen looked toward the voice. A temple Sentinel approached him.
“Yes, I am actually. I’m Tamlen, I’ve never been here before.”
“I understand the feeling. I am Abelas. Please, follow me and I will lead you out.”
Tamlen smiled as he followed. After that he made side stops at the temple just to see him. Eventually he set his plan into motion. He succeeded int getting further into the temple. Once in, he grabbed two books on the history of Elvhen art. He looked for an empty desk, sitting at the first vacant one, He read through the first one before opening the next.
He yanked as he flipped another page within the book. His eyes felt heavy and he felt exhausted. He had been there for hours and was now starting to feel the effects. He yawned again. He slowly closed his eyes as he began to doze off. His body jerked, quickly waking himself before standing up from the chair of the desk. He decided to grab a third book. This time he grabbed one on magical theories.
He sat back down as he flipped the book open to the first page. He managed to get about twenty pages in before the book became a pillow. For the first time in years he felt that he was actually asleep. His parents had somehow caught wind of his trips little trips to the temple. They started getting angry about him doing so. Thus the temple started to feel like more like a safe haven to him; a place where he is welcomed and had no reason to fear anything.
“Da'len? Are you alright?”
A gentle hand shook Tamlen’s shoulder. It took a few moments to actual rouse the elf. Tamlen yawned as he rubbed his eyes, slowly sitting up as he did.
“W-what? What time is it?”
“Far too late for you to be here.”
Tamlen slowly looked up towards the voice. He came face to face with the God Dirthamen. It took a few moments to register what was happening.
“D-Dirthamen?!” Guilt washed over him as he looked into the Gods eyes. “I-I’m so sorry! I know I-”
Dirthamen smiled kindly. “It is alright. There is no need to apologize. I asked my priest to allow you to enter this part of the temple. You did nothing wrong.”
Tamlen was shocked by the gods words. Three years of planning a way in and it turned out that the God of the temple was the one who had let him pass.
“You wish to learn. I will not deny you that. I have seen you here everyday for the past few years, always with a stack of books next to you but I must ask, what is your name?”
Tamlen hesitated for a movement. “T-Tamlen.”
“Well then Tamlen, I’ll make sure you can access this section when ever you’d like.”
Dirthamen nodded. “Really. Now I suggest you return home and get some rest there alright? Being in your bed would be much more comfortable than here.”
Tamlen nodded, thanking him before returning to his home, more like a prison now than a true home.
His father was waiting for him. He quietly entered the house making his way past the sitting room only to find his father. He was sitting with his arms crossed, slouched back into the sofa. Tamlen recognized this pose all too well. He took a few steps as his father stood. Moving towards him.
“You are returning home very late tonight….Tamlen”
Tamlen froze as his father charged at him.
“You went to that blasted temple didn’t you!”
Tamlen tried to run from him but was grabbed by the hair and pulled back with a yelp.
“You showed great promise! Now you’ve thrown it all away.”
“I’m sorry!!!” Tamlen screamed through his tears.
“Shut up!!!” His father struck him across the face good and hard stinging his right eye. For the first time in his life, was his father had hit him. He tried so hard to hold back his tears but failed. His father grabbed a knife holding it to his hair.
“Shut up or else!!”
Tamlen tried so hard but yet again failed. His father drew he knife through his hair cutting it off and leaving him with a rather badly cut pixie.
“Get out of my sight!!! GET OUT!!!!
Tamlen stumbled about as he ran to his room. He slammed the door shut behind end him, locking it before placeing a seal on it. He took a few steps before falling onto his ass. He broke down sobbing as he pulled his legs into his chest. He hated himself for what he had done, he hated his father for what he had done as well.
He moved to the small balcony connected to his room, grabbing a blanket from his bed. He curled up in the corner where he slowly fell asleep until sun rise. He removed the seal on his door upon waking in the early hours of the morning before climbing down from the balcony. He made a run for the temple. His last safe haven. He didn’t plan on leaving that night so he hoped Dirthamen wouldn’t mind having an overnight guest.
He spent the day studying magical theories as he usually did. He ignored the whispers about his bruises as he went about his business. Eventually he passed out from sheer exhaustion. He only woke after being awakened by Dirthamen. He looked at the God with weak eyes as he fell to his knees cupping Tamlen’s face in his hands.
"Who did this to you?”
Tamlen bit his lip. “Tamlen, why did he hurt you? A parents duty is to protect, not harm their child.”
“He did this because I was coming to the temple…and not the Vir Dirthara..they hate the idea of me worshiping someone other than June.”
He could see the rage building within the gods eyes and yet they were full of sorrow. Dirthamen then pulled him into hug. Something made him desperately want to protect this child. Dirthamen hadn’t felt this way in sixteen years, at least, not since that fateful day. Tamlen wrapped his arms around the God as he began to cry. Dirthamen held Tamlen until his tears ceased to flow.
“I want you to stay here tonight.” He cupped Tamlen’s face in his hands. “I can see in your eyes that you fear I’ll get involved. I won’t, I will it do anything unless you ask me too.” Dirthamen smiled but that smile quickly faded.
His eyes…no, it can’t be…but they are his…only he had eyes as vibrant as this.
Dirthamen watched as a small, weak smile appeared on Tamlen’s face.
“Thank you Dirthamen.”
Tamlen took up Dirthamen’s offer. He spent the night and ended up staying many more nights. After a while Dirthamen started to construct a small room at the back of the temple for him to use whenever he needed to.
Tamlen later rushed off to Mythals temple. The streets were mostly abandoned during the dead of night. A single lantern shimmered in the darkness. He smiled, running over to the figure beneath it. They embraced with a gentle kiss.
“I missed you Vhenan.”
“As did I.”
The pair kissed again and again. They never were seen together in this way during the day. They hoped that one day they could come out of the shadows and be truly happy. For now, this should have to do.
Tamlen awakened in small room they had rented at a local inn. His lover was gone as per usual. He stood slowly, using the side table for support. They’d gone at each other a bit too rough last night. Still, he could meet with his lover and do this now knowing he was safe. He dressed, retuning to the temple as quickly as he could.
Eventually, Tamlen was beyond a regular at the temple. Dirthamen had taken him literally under his wing. He was always wandering the temple now, mostly interacting with the children who visited. He loved telling them stories. He also started sharing various theories with respected scholars that stopped by.
Tamlen and Dirthamen quickly formed a strong bond. Dirthamen admitted many times that he felt as if the bond had always been there and Tamlen agreed. He had begun to view Dirthamen as a father figure. He had learnt that his own father was in no way suitable for that position.
A Raven began following him around at some point. It loved to land on his shoulders or next to his stack of books. He gave the Raven the name “Tei'lon” one, Dirthamen said suited the bird quite well.
He sighed staring out the open window. A year had come and gone quicker that he could have imagined. He was sitting at his favourite desk next to the open window in his room. He closed his eyes, listening to the sounds around him. The rustling of the leaves mix with the fluttering of a butterflies wings. Ravens cawing as they flew past the window, chatting with one another. He slowly opened his eyes noticing that a small bowl of fruit had appeared next to him. He also noted a glass of chilled tea next to his arm.
“I figured I should bring you something to eat Dirthara'dalen. I also brought a few books with me but I see you already have a tower of them ready to go.”
Tamlen giggled, smiling up at him.
Dirthamen smiled. “Well, I’m glad you’re happier now.”
Dirthamen turned, walking out of the room. Tamlen had utterly no clue as to what he had done to deserve such kindness. He returned to his books, picking up a grape from the bowl and eating it. Several hours passed; both the glass and bowl were now empty and he had finally made a dent in the tower of books next to him. Tei'lon flew into the room, landing next to his arm. He tilted his head, hoping closer to the elf. He then tried to pick up the page of Tamlen’s book and flip it.
“Hey, I’m still reading this.” He chuckled softly as he gently stroked Tei'lon’s head.
He stood as he picked up the books he had finished. He made his way out into the library to return them to their rightful homes.
“Well now, if it isn’t Tamlen.”
Tamlen turned his head towards the source of the voice. The voice belonged to Nero. The two had dropped contact after Tamlen’s sixteenth birthday. Nero had changed quite a bit er the past six years. He had originally tried to convince Tamlen to join and assist him in freeing slaves. Freed slaves were brought to Fen'Harel’s sanctuary where they could live freely. Tamlen respected his desire to help free these people but had no desire to get involved himself in such things.
“Nero, it’s been a while hasn’t it?”
“I’d say about a year. Listen I-”
Tamlen looked towards a little girl as she ran up behind Nero, hugging his leg.
Nero sighed, laughing quietly. “I came here as I wished for you to meet Halla. My daughter, her older brother Harel is currently attending school so he was unable to join us.”
Tamlen smiled softly. “Hello.” He said in a soft tone.
Halla hid behind her father with a tiny squeak. “She’s a bit shy but someday I’m sure she’ll be like her mother and have an amazing personality. See, the reason I even came toward was the fact that my wife was wondering if you and Lyra would like to attend to her fifth birthday?”
Lyra, he had forgotten her. Tamlen had spent so much time at the Temple that he had forgotten about her and the child she was now carrying. Their arrangement had never been a happy one. His parents had started to fear he would back down from the arrangement. They had drugged him allowing her to essentially rape him. She joyously announced her pregnancy a week weeks ago. She was apparently three months into her term.
“I’d have to ask Lyra.” His smile slowly turned fake as he spoke. “I’m sure she’d love to attend the party.”
“Great! It’s taking place at my home, you know where it is. Haven’t more or anything. It will take place this coming Monday.”
“You’ll see us if she wishes to attend, if not I will be sure to send a marvellous gift.”
The two elf’s then said their goodbyes after chatting for a little while longer. Nero left hand in hand with his daughter. Tamlen dropped his books, falling against the book shelf. He caught himself with one hand while covering his mouth with the other. He was going to be sick. He ran to the back of the temple. He barely made it as he collapsed to knees, vomiting. He slumped against the nearest wall, huffing and puffing.
“Fourth time in three months. Are you alright Tamlen?”
Dirthamen crouched next to Tamlen as he shrugged. He could see the worry in Dirthamen’s eyes as he spoke. Tamlen was forced to rest for a few days. During this time he found a note book filled with simple sketches. He approached Dirthamen about them asking to be taught. The God brought him to another. He brought him to Fen'Harel.
“You want me to teach the boy?! Why?!”
“He wishes to learn! Is that so wrong?!”
“I thought we agreed to stop Dirthamen.”
“Please…at least meet him Solas…”
“Do not call me that.”
Dirthamen bit his lip crossing his arms. He felt as if he couldn’t speak. Tamlen entered the room after hearing all the shouting. Solas looked at him, dropping the paints he had just prepared. The elf in front of him couldn’t be real, could he? His magical aura was beyond similar to Dirthamen’s but maybe that was due to being partially raised by the God. He reluctantly agreed to teach Tamlen. They started the very next day. He taught Tamlen the basics before teaching him how to shade, add colour and paint. The lessons lasted only two weeks, however, as the tension between Dirthamen and Solas drove Tamlen away.
He stopped visiting the temple after that day. For the next four months he could be seen gazing at the temple from a far. Then on the first day of the fifth month he appeared at the temple. Lyra was with him. She was nearing the end of her pregnancy and had asked Tamlen if she could see Dirthamen’s temple in the flesh. Personally, Tamlen did not want her to defile his only safe haven. Dirthamen noticed his presence as he enter the temple and ran to greet him. He pulled back into the shadows using realizing he was not alone. Carefully, he watched the elves as they wandered about the main area of the temple for a short time.
“So…they say the God Dirtheman wanders the temples grounds…is it true Tamlen?”
He shrugged. “Maybe, I’ve been here before but I do not think I’ve ever met him.”
“Aw, I had hoped to meet him.”
Tamlen choose his words carefully. He did not wish to reveal his current connection to Dirthamen. The repercussions would be beyond severe if his parents ever found out.
“Well, I’m going to be later for my lunch date at the parlour with the ladies. You said you were stopping at Mythals temple before returning home correct?”
“Alrighty then, I guess I’ll see you at home then.”
Tamlen nodded as she left the temples grounds. He had slowly began to hate her. At first he didn’t mind the marriage but now, it was a fate worse than death. He sat down on an open bench as Dirthamen slowly walked up to him,
“She is with child…is it yours?”
Tamlen nodded slightly. “My parents…well, they said that my child will make up for my past failures. Sadly, I’ve fallen back on my studies during this time. I need to watch her closely. I know they bribed her to be kind and courteous to me. I must get the child out of there once they are born into this world before they…” He huffed crossing his arms. “Corrupt him or her with their stupid and toxic ideals.”
Dirthamen could see the fear and sorrow building in Tamlen’s eyes. He’d never seen Tamlen like this. “Bring the child here. I can give you sanctuary from your family until you can find a new home.”
“Of course my Dirthara'dalen. Now, I have something for you.”
He stood, gesturing for Tamlen to follow. They made their way into Dirthamen’s quarters where present Tamlen with a Ravens feather.
“This feather is enchanted Tamlen. In times of need or hardship, you are to burn it. In return for burning it someone or thing will come to your aid.”
Dirthamen tied a leather cord to it before sliding it over his head, letting it rest against his chest.
“Promise me Dirthara'dalen…Tamlen please promise me that you shall use it in a time of great need.”
They hugged for a few moments before Tamlen departed from the temple. Dirthamen followed until he walked out the main doors He feared for his safety. He had come to care for Tamlen as if he were his son. Tamlen was quite unique compared to all the others who had ever visited the temple. He knew that the young elf had the potential to do something grand. He wasn’t going to let that potential be wasted. He walked over to Tei'lon’s nest, gently waking him. The Raven lifted his head up, looking up towards the God.
“I need you to watch him. You must report back to me if anything happens to him.”
Tei'lon squawked taking flight out the small window. Hopefully, no harm will come to the young elf.
Tamlen met with his lover once more before revealing something to them. They kissed many times before his lover slipped back to his duties. Things would never be the same after this. Everything was about to change.