Fall
The Return to the Temple, Book Two

Fall

Five years had passed since that awful day. For Carlos, it was simultaneously the farthest and most dear thought in this moment. He had seen the glow he presently witnessed only once before, after all. His smile belied his past experience; truly, in this moment, he could share in his wife's joy at the successful birth of her first son. The babe, worn out by its earlier screaming, now rested against her breast, hiding his face from the light.

The new mother turned her attention from her son to face him. "Thank you, Carlos; thank you for... for everything. For staying with me, for loving me, and now—"

He wiped the developing tear from her eye. "Daelia darling, you know I love you more than the summer rain upon an undisturbed meadow; we both wanted this. I'm just so happy it worked out."

The elven woman returned her gaze to the child cradled in her arms, swallowing down a soft sob. "This time, you mean."

Carlos averted his eyes, the words seeming to cut into his very soul. "Daelia, you know— That's past. Can't we forget about it, please? Especially in this wonderful occasion." A shrill cry returned his attention to his family; the baby had awoken and was hungry. The mother carefully maneuvered around her gown, bringing the child to suckle.

"I know dear; I'm sorry. You know I only want the very best for all of us. I speak out of worry."

The cloud-cover outside parted for a brief instant, the sun casting shadows of wind-blown trees upon the tiny room's yellowing window curtain. Carlos sniffed, returning his finger to his wife's cheek, tenderly stroking the soft flesh. "I know you didn't mean anything by it, honey. And don't worry; I will assure that we will live happily from now on. We'll raise him together into a strong, strapping, confident lad, I'm sure."

She nodded, sniffling a little herself. "Well, such a strong lad should have a strong name, don't you agree?" The elf winked at her husband, who seemed a little taken aback.

"Wait, you mean... are you sure? Will you be happy with that?"

"Absolutely, dear. We have to raise him together, after all; what good would it be if we couldn't compromise with a smile for each other every once in a while?"

"I just don't want it to be a smile holding back sadness, Daelia." He grasped her lesser-supporting hand. "Are you sure?"

She simply nodded. "I know how much he meant to you, how much she meant to you. I only hope we can all live together as you would have."

Carlos trembled visibly, his hand releasing hers to caress his newborn son's scalp. "Son, I want to be the best father I can be for you. I failed my firstborn, but I shall not with you. This in mind, I bestow upon you the name he had, the name we chose for him out of hope. May it protect you when we no longer can, my sweet Angelo."

The Return to the Temple, Book Two
Emerging from battle, partly responsible for the destruction of half of two cities, a dutiful yet childish half-elf swordsman takes up professional gambling to keep himself and his new wizard acquaintance alive; however, the megalomaniacal sorcerer has returned, and begins to systematically destroy members of the magical group keeping the world in balance. Suspects themselves after their previous confrontation, the pair must clear their names. In the face of encroaching insanity and societal isolation, the elf researches while the half-elf deals with this reminder of his loss, and finally the swordsman faces off against the sorcerer in a battle with everything at stake.