The Storm Saga:Gathering

Discussion in 'Original Works' started by AjaxTorbin, Jun 26, 2006.

  1. AjaxTorbin

    AjaxTorbin New Member

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    Floating? falling? Pain? ....No.
    Drifting.
    When?
    Thinking?
    No, dreaming. Yes, that’s it. I’m asleep.
    I, me, who?
    Sound . . .
    Joy? . . .No
    What is sound? I know what. But how do I know?
    What . . .
    Something is missing, what? Wh. . .
    Pain! Ow! What is this?
    Wait, more sound, they are talking. Yes my Kin are talking. Kin?
    Where?
    Talking?
    “he’s . . . better”
    He. I. I am a ‘he’ . . .
    A soft voice, soft, wise, fe . . . fe. Female. But what . . . ?
    “....ood. It’s been long and . . . should we . . . him as soon as he wakes?”
    Stronger, firmer voice.
    “No. Best to......ill he’s stro. . .haps even after”
    Louder. Closer. That means they’re coming closer. Elation!
    More pain! In my, chest?
    Chest, lungs, Breathing, focus on the breathing, yes, that’s what that’s called.
    In-Out . . . in-out. There, I can move, my foot, yes foot, twitch . . .
    YES! Accomplishment!
    I live, but am less. How?What?Where?Who?
    Toes . . . yes they move . . . legs . . . clench. Good. Chest . . . hart . . . pumping. Mouth . . . dry . . . ears . . . up, down . . . yes.
    Wait.
    EYES ! Sight, see, watch, look, open . . .
    See . . . Tent? No. Wood, a ceiling, inside, house, yes, that’s it, house.


    ***

    Ise once again cursed herself for her stupidity and ran down the hill toward the village. It was her charge, hers! And a momentary lapse could end her position as an apprentice healer. She had thought getting out of class, to watch a patient would be relaxation enough but then FarRider had shown up . . . and . . .A whole hour had gone by! She would have kicked herself if she could without falling down the steep path she was on. She hadn’t gone far, just a walk with her betrothed, FarRider, nothing to make anyone blush, she was nearly sixty years old and ready to end her apprenticeship and start her career as a life-mender but a walk had turned into so much more, more of him bragging about how he had been promoted to Sighter, She smiled faintly at the memory. Blight! Where had the time gone?
    Ise flew by the falls that lent Silverfall village its name, crossed the foot bridge at the base blinking as the mist from the falls stung her eyes, turned right toward the village that she and several hundred other elves called home. The village was very organic, lanes winding between the massive trees, the smallest easily twenty feet wide. She looked up at their massive branches, interconnecting, forming bridges bowing from tree to tree in a seemingly random web of pathways. The village was formed of three main layers. The ground; used for heavy carts, large groups, gardens and small shopping stalls. The trunks; shaped by spell casters into shops and houses for living. The branches; threading their way from trunk to trunk. Some branches reached high above the tops of the trees and ended in intricate platforms and balconies used for pleasure and defense.
    Once, she heard that some folk lived on the ground! She still thought Farrider was leading her on, she could understand that some buildings had to be on the ground, like the mill, the blacksmiths and the healers, where she was headed now, but that was a safety issue! Choosing to live on the ground, that was strange. He said they didn’t even use floors! Just packed earth, well, the common folk did. Farrider said their nobles had huge houses with floors, but they were still on the ground.
    Today was a bright spring day and there were many shop carts and pedestrians on the ground paths leading in-between the tree-homes of the villagers. A strange looking cart caught her eye, it was a large, easily twice her height and twice the length of the two draft horses tethered to it. Who would drive such a brick-like thing? She thought to herself but her questions were abated when the side of the wagon folded up with a mechanical clanging, stairs descended from the bottom and a short muscular creature stepped out. ‘Ah, who but a dwarf would ride such a wagon.’ she thought. Not much was brought from outside Raydawn forest because of the secluded location and what was came during the summer months when what roads they had were dry. Non-elf traders here were rare, but not unheard of. This must be the first of the season. She made a mental note to look at his wares later as dwarves usually had the best worked metal goods.
    But she had no time for such thoughts, normally she would just enter Ki’mura, the great oak where the elders lived and assembled for council, and enter the life-menders’ through the atrium between it and the roots of The tree, but an elder might see her and ask what a apprentice life-mender was doing wandering around, when lessons where in session. No. She would have to go through the river entrance which meant going through the pavilion as there were no other crossings until The tree.
    More than a thousand years old, it was a pavilion built right over the water, abought eighty feet long and half as much wide, it acted as a bridge and protection from the rain for the merchants on the main path. It was the site of parties, ceremonies, weddings, funerals, and meetings. There was much history in those timbers and there was much more to be added. But right now it was choked with merchants and pedestrians trying to escape the midday sun. Musicians had been found and they were playing a lively tune wile revelers laughed and danced, for this was a marvelous spring day that demanded a party.
    Winter was over, the rains had come and gone, and it was not yet time to begin the spring planting. There was no holiday, no ceremony, berthing, wedding, or any other specific meaning, just the wood elf playful spirt and joy of frivolity. Some folk said the elves of the wood were far too easy going, too wrapped up in their own merriment to take anything seriously or to be taken seriously, that thought brought awry smile to Ise’s lips, those who said such things obviously never encountered a band of Woodland Guard or Watchers, like her betrothed. And there were other things guarding the wood. An attacking force would be surprised indeed when, after a volley of arrows from nowhere, the trees themselves started to attack.
    As the she was drawing near the pavillion, she took a deep breath and plunged in; running up the steps, ducking in-between a group clapping in time to the music, startling them, through a small open area left for dancing, nearly getting trampled, barely avoiding a vendor moving his cart back outside, ducking under a rack of clothes (getting a cry from the owner of the rack),getting another cry from some boys playing slamstone; a game involving a stack of smooth rocks (made no sense to her, but boys are weird), down the ten steps on the other side in one jump and turned left, toward Ki’mura and the life-menders’ house.


    ***


    His thoughts were all in a whirl, but cutting through them like an arrow was the pain in his head.‘ Where am I?’ He thought. Looking around he saw a long wooden hall like room, twice as long as it was wide, with many other white linenned beds besides the one he was on. The walls were bare wood but vanished and unadorned except for a row of curtained windows down either side. There were two doors each on opposite ends of the room and through one he could hear running water, the other, voices getting closer.
    As he was trying to focus his thoughts the river door burst open and a young woman, no more than sixty, dressed in a white cloak with a red V shaped stole of fine cloth, burst in out of breath. As she lay against the door and heaved for breath, he tried to ask who she was but all that came out was an unintelligible garble, but it got her attention. She looked up her eyes widening and ears swiveling up in surprise. He tried to wet his tongue but no saliva would come, and tried again, Wh...who...who ar...” but it ended in a coughing fit and pain in the throat as long unused muscles tried to work.
    “ I am Ise, an apprentice healer here.” Guessing his question she continued taking a step closer. “ But I don’t understand, Mistress Softwalker said it would take weeks if not months to take effect.”
    “ Wh. . .Where am . . .” Was the raspy return. But before she could reply, the door at the other end of the hall opened and two figures entered, one wearing plane brown robes the other with the same robes as Ise except the stole was longer and the edges of the robe were red also. The two figures, so deep was their conversation did not notice anything for several steps until Ise exclaimed, “Oh! Mistress Softwalker! Come quick!”
    With that the one in red lined robes snapped her head toward the yell, ears swiveling up from a relaxed down position. Soft features, used to the shape of a smile, with the corners of her oversized almond shaped eyes, normal for their species, showing the first signs of aging. Many summers of laughter this one had seen, as attested to by the crows feet. And her auburn hair, showing signs of once being bright red, was fading to white. However there was no other sign of age as she threw the wide sleeves of her robe back over her shoulders and rushed to the bedside.
    “Lay back. Ise, get me the rest stones. ” She said gently pushing her hand on his chest as her apprentice moved to do as she was told. “Rest, don’t try to talk, all will be explained in time. Your spirt is weary, it has had a long journey apart from your body. One does not just ‘get up’ from an ordeal as hard as yours.”
    But there was one question, one question rolling through his brain screaming over the pain throughout his body. “Wh. . . Wh. . . “ She put her fingers on his lips stopping the effort.
    “Questions later, for now I can tell you that you are fine and will recover, if you rest.” Ise handed her two small polished blue stones with the runes for sleep on them. “When you wake the pain should be gone.” and then held them over his temples for a moment.
    Just then the brown robed figure leaned into his field of view, pure white hair falling into his eyes as he said, “I thought you said he wouldn’t wake up for at least another week?”
    The life-mender, for that was what she was, shot back testily
    “This is not an exact science like your O so precious wizardry, healing magics are far more nebulous, one must rely on instinct as much as training, “ With that last aimed at Ise as much as the Elder.
    “Yes, yes but . . .” the elder trailed off when he saw the patients’ lips begin to move. “ I do believe he’s trying to say something. Spit it out young one, if it’s so important.”
    A weary aching body said through a dry tight throat , “ Bu. . . but. . . Wh . . . Who am I?” Becoming visibly confused and weary after the last syllable.
    But alas, the sleep stones did their function just then and his last sight was three shocked faces leaning over him as he slid into the welcoming abyss.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2006
  2. AjaxTorbin

    AjaxTorbin New Member

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    ---chap one--******* YETanother update*******07/31/2006

    Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.
    Anonymous
    What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson


    Chapter One



    Chasing through the forest, running with all his incredible speed he felt alive. More alive than ever in the four months he could recall of his nearly forty year life. Four months, he thought angrily as he ran up a huge fallen tree trunk, to the upper canopy of the forest, out onto a branch at least a hundred paces long. Reaching the end he leaped from the tip onto the next tree, jumping a gap six times as wide as he was tall to do so. He ran like this, jumping, weaving, careening through the forest at an incredible speeds. A human once said that not even a Swallow could fly as fast as a wood elf could run. This elf could outpace even the fastest of his kin. Fast enough even to be known as Runner before he could walk.
    He ran until fatigue threatened to overwhelm him but pushed himself onward still. Sweat poring from his body, he collapsed near a towering birch tree, the great spread of foliage leaning over a small stream that took a turn south from here making a small well shaded cove. Across the stream, a small glade, grass still golden from the summer sun, sloped gently upward from the bend in the stream. Leaning back against the tree truck, cool from the chill fall air, he heaved for breath.
    As he sat there he thought it good foresight to wear only his Bu’Cjan, a pair of tight shorts worn to the mid-calf and often buckled at the waist by a small pouch. He also wore a skirt-like piece of cloth open across the front and buckled with a wide belt, he had one large pouch on his belt, they told him he used it to carry messages back and forth from the many outposts and villages throughout the forest.
    He leaned further into the crook of the tree savoring the chill breeze that swept the tension from his aching body and thought back on the last few months of his life. After that first dreamy awakening, three days had passed; upon waking Rai told him he was Edileon Ra’orn son of Kar’haust and Il’Sillin, younger brother of Daru’un. They were from a small village far to the east of Silverfall along the Silver River near Cleft Pass called Thornberry (after the sweet but pointy fruit that grows thick there). His father was a ranger, a Watcher of the wood, of some renown until his death at the hands of orcs just after Runners’ twentieth birthday. Even with that tragedy they stayed there where his mother, Il’Sillin, practiced her craft as a Herbalist and his older brother could follow after their father as a Watcher. Runner contributed to their small family working as a messenger. This peaceful existence would not last, in the middle of his thirty-seventh winter a large group of raiders broke through Cleft Pass and out in to Raydawn. Normally the large garrison of troops stationed there would have quickly dealt with them but no one expected an attack through the pass in the middle of winter and a large part of the Guard had been called to the south where a large goblin horde had been sighted. And to compound the problem the raiders made several feint attacks to the north drawing away most of the Watchers. The few rangers and guard left, including his brother, had made a valiant last stand in the middle of the village but there were too many enemies and there were no survivors. It was some time after that stand at the village square he received the blow on the head that took his memory, none were sure how he got it because all who would have seen it were dead. He was found a day later under a pile of debris and ash from the burned village.
    After that he fell into the sleep of the lost soul, some races called it a ‘coma’ but his people believed that when your soul takes a shock such as he had, it must leave the body or the grief would overwhelm you, a defensive measure if you will. Your soul would either come to terms with what happened and return to the body or would simply let the body waste away. And he started his slumber nearly three years ago.
    He sighed, picked up some stones and heaving one into the water he looked beyond the stream, over the rippling golden grass of the glade. He lay there, feeling the wind wash over him, bringing the first chill of winter and seeming to drain the stress from his body, he felt himself totally relax into the groove of the tree and for the first time allowed the grief to truly flow. He grieved not for the loss of his family but for the loss of the memory of them. If he could just remember the good times, for surely there must be some, he felt he could deal with their loss. But alas, no matter how far he delved into the black pit that was his memory, no face, no instance, nothing relating to his past and family could he recollect. To loose your loved ones was sorrow enough but he had no other family either. The forest elves had many words for family, great, long, complex names for even the most distant of relatives but no word for one without a family. One with no living relatives. Through the cold tears he brung himself to say the word, borrowed from the human language, aloud, “Orphan.” He spat the word like a curse. He was Rasarien, wood elf to the other intelligent races, his people had life spans of nearly half a millennium, and here he was, an orphan!
    Fingering the smooth stones in the palm of his hand he hunched over and looked into the still water near the crook of the stream, as if from a dark glossy mirror his reflection stared back from the depths, his dark auburn hair had grown out to the middle of his back and a few locks escaped the leather thong he had used to tie it back. He had angular, yet smooth features with high cheek bones and large brown eyes that tapered up slightly into the six inch ears that helped distinguish his race; but his face now stared back with a blank expression. In the pool he could also see the tattoo that covered the space from his neck to his right shoulder, just under his collar bone. Rei said he got it when he was thirty seasons of age, an old rune that meant ‘free spirit’, intertwined with one that meant determination, it was composed of several chevrons that followed his collar bone and went down to the upper part of his left breast and over that, placed there without breaking the flow of the lines, were the two interlocking spirals that formed the sign for commitment. He put a hand there, covering it totally; he knew he got it for a reason but, why?, why can I not remember! I do not deserve this, he thought, the anger welling up like an inferno in his soul. “NO!” He cried, jumping to hie feet, startled at the horror of his own twisted face looking back out of the stream. “I will not let anger OR hate rule me.”
    He suddenly found that he was breathing heavily and as he slowly relaxed he realized that what she said to him just before coming out here, it had made him angry, but Raishidda was right, he was the type who had to live or he had to die, he could not exist as a shallow, hollow memory of his former self. And that was all that it took, a simple decision. He had been living a half life these past few months, making no progress forward or back, and he could not exist like that. So that left two options, live to the fullest, or die to the fullest. And death was an option among his people, suicide was rare, but once decided it was honored. For if you had not freedom over your own body, what freedom did you truly have? He could announce his intent to kill himself and he knew some would try to dissuade him, and as was proper he would devise the manner of his own death, which was one of the tests to see if one truly wished death, you had to do it yourself. None would help a suicide. He had already looked at the ritual surrounding the act, for three weeks after one announced the intent to suicide, those who wished him to live talked to him and try to dissuade him, most suicides stopped here when they realized they were still loved and could still give love. Those that made it to the twenty-first day would then, if they so chose, kill themselves in the manner they saw fit.
    But no, it is not death for me. I have made my choice, I will stop playing at it. I will live life, and not just live. I will live in the now and stop trying to recall my old life. I will make new memories. Good memories. And that made him think again of her, Raishidda, waist length hair orange tempered with red, like the rising sun; she was there when he woke up confused and dazed, with a smile that could calm a tempest emblazed upon her face. She asked first what he could remember.
    When he replied, “Nothing.”, she then had told him his name, who he was, about his family and also how he got there. Letting her continue with no interruption, he asked one question,”Who are you?”. Smiling another one of those calming smiles, she replied, “And here I was worried the loss might have changed you; as always, quiet and to the point when you have to talk. I am Raishidda, you have been my friend for many years; and I am glad you are back, but now you need your rest.”
    Earlier this morning, though, her smile was nowhere to be found when he made his way lethargically to the common room and what had started as good mornings became a shouting mach, well, he smiled slightly at the memory, Rai did more of the shouting. When that one got riled up, all had better watch out, for she has the silver tongue of a dragon and the volume to mach. She was tired of his moping and slinking about, or his continued ‘existence for the sake of breathing’ as she put it was driving her to madness. “Where is it?” she had continued, “That spark, the wry humor under the timidness? All I see is an empty shell devoid of aspiration, just going through the motions of life.”
    And I have made my choice,“ I will live.” He cried startling himself at the fierceness of his voice, his cry echoed off the gently curving wooded hills and scared a flock of birds into flight. But he felt lighter, as if some darkness on his soul was gone and he breathed the cool air as if for the first time. His body might have woken at the start of summer but his spirt woke now at the end of summer. He sighed the long sigh of one who has made his peace with inner demons and looked back the way he came, towards Silverfall and . . . oh no! He remembered, the meeting! Rai wanted me there!
    Looking at the sun he saw that he didn’t have long ‘til sunset, in an hour when the ceremony started. Turning and looking back over his shoulder, he suddenly realized how far he’d come. With a large grin and a newfound lightness in his step, he took off towards home, weaving and bobbing through the trees.



    * * *



    Some leagues away a young elven woman sat in a crook of a tree also, the difference being she was several hundred feet up reclining on a branch forck. And although the reason for her retreat into the canopy was different, her thoughts had been moving along the same train of thought, what Runner was going to do with himself. She hadn’t seen him since their morning, ‘discussion’, and was beginning to worry. Her precarious perch swayed lightly in the wind as she sat cross-legged on limbs half as large as her thigh. This one nestled in the branches of the great willow was Raishidda So’rugne; her father was Riekonn So’rugne, the keeper of lore and magic for the elder council and a well learned mage I do hope he is O.K., Raishidda thought to herself, Oh I know I should not, he can outrun any danger, but he is still confused about some things.
    She was not there when he woke the first time but when the news of it reached her she asked her father to move him to their home, let him wake up in familiar surroundings, was her argument. So the next day a litter born by four Watchers, a strange honor for one not their own, brought him to the great tree where she made her home. After they placed him on a bed on the second floor, Mistress Softwalker pulled her aside and stated her fears, his memory might be damaged, for he had seemed confused when he first woke. It was with that in mind that she had spoken with her father, they both agreed, they would have to wait and see how much, if any, of his memory was gone. She thought she was ready for anything, but had been barely able to hold back the tears as she told Runner his name, who he was and how he got there. I had not even considered that all of his memory might be gone. He remembered nothing, oh he could still move like he used to, all the speed and athleticism where still there, he could still talk, but every thing else was gone. Maybe I should not have pushed him and let him make his own course without advise. No, I should not second guess myself, he will . . . Her thought process was jarred from it’s course when a ruckus far below her started up and the three humans started to quarrel. Again? , she sighed.
    Her opinion of humans had been generally good until now. But this group threatened to change that, for the worse. They had arrived two weeks ago with the intent to stay a few days and move on east, towards Cleft pass and the human lands beyond but a message from the Watchers said that the passes were blocked with the first snows of winter. Raydawn forest was located far to the north, set in a wide vale in-between the Sentinel mountains and a huge cliff known as the barrier, to the south the thunder hills, which them selves ended at fjord’s that never earned a name. She knew this because there was large detailed map on a table in the library her father kept for his magical studies. Winter came quickly and stayed long this far north. Oh, they still had a couple of weeks till the cold reached to the central forest warmed as they were by hot springs nearby, but what for the humans had started as a novel experience, now was becoming a winter long stay. But it really wasn’t a good idea to hire a ship, sail to a spot on the beach and ‘walk back home’, but that’s what Sir Frederick, the leader of their small expedition, said they were doing. He had been to Raydawn before, allowed in after helping a band of Watchers with a troll problem, or rather, a clan of trolls problem. And here eight years later, he was back with two companions, a young lord Steven and their friend, mister Carlin, a sailor. It seemed that Steven’s father, a duke, had charged Sir Frederick with showing his son the world, but from the actions of the group she thought it was more of a, ‘send him on a journey so he’ll stop being so arrogant and grow up’ type of trip. With Frederick in charge rather than the young duke, that seemed to be the case. And that little arrogant, self centered . . . no, I will not get angry again, she thought. Well, it wouldn’t be so bad if she didn’t have to deal with them herself, but her father had asked her to be their guide while they were here, and what she thought would be a small chore was now taking all her time. First the young duke said their rooms were too small, the gall, she thought bitterly, those were the biggest rooms in our house.
    And her family was quite well off, thanks to father being one of the more powerful magi in the village, and their tree was quite old witch meant it was quite large, for it was also a school and library for the magi in the area. Known as the Willow Hall, it plunged several hundred feet into the air and set its roots in the Silver river, leaning far out over the water covering large portion of the south bank downstream from Ki’mura. Over the corse of centuries the rooms had been shaped by the best spell weavers they possessed into a meeting hall, then a home, and now a school.
    But, getting her train of thought back on her ranting, then he had to go and insult the cook!, an older matronly Rasarien, she had been serving meals for the students and Raishidda’s family for over a hundred years and was considered one of the best chefs in this part of the forest. Rai had grown up with the pleasant aromas wafting through the halls and the older elf always having some treat for an adventurous young girl who was supposed to be studying something and not roaming about town. And a special place was reserved in Rai’s hart for the kindly old woman. But according to lord Steven, who had spit his food out and loudly complained that their cook was the worst in all the known lands and that there was not enough meat or salt, and to, ‘take this slop away and bring me real food!’ . His companions hushed him before he could further embarrass them but the fact that he was rude enough to say in the first place and had not apologized, had lowered Rai’s opinion of humans a great deal.
    Well, in their defense, her experience had been limited to only one human until now; Alejandro Dionisio was a human wizard who lived in Willow hall at the invitation of her father. The first human in a thousand years granted the right to live out his life in Raydawn, he was a wizard from the warmer lands far to the south beyond even the closer human lands and past the Wasted Expanse of the Elsarien, their ‘high elf’ cousins thousands of leagues to the south. They were not sure why he left his people, he never spoke of it and if someone asked he would change the subject with a laugh and say, “ The uninteresting stories of old humans would bore you, but that does remind me of a tale of my journeys . . .” , and would start off on some amazing narrative about staying one step ahead of the brigands and getting out with the girl and treasure in hand. But she had seen him in the library late at night when he thought he was alone, he would stare a point on the large map table with a world map marked into its surface and pull out a small flask, the only time she ever saw him drink, and sigh with the sadness of long gone times and choices made. The aura of fights unfought, choices made, chances missed, and the cresting of one last hill seemed to swirl around him, almost solidifying, and for a moment, he didn’t seem all his eighty-seven years of age, but younger, ready to slay one more dragon.
    But that was not how she first knew him, back in his home land he started adulthood as a apprentice wizard and when, for whatever reason, he started his travels he picked up more knowledge and skill until he was one of the most powerful wizards her father had ever seen. Her father met him outside of Raydawn, and after a shaky start and an incident with a giant that they still laughed about, became fast friends. They journeyed far to the east of Raydawn having many adventures until at some point they met her mother, and she still couldn’t get the whole story out of either of them, but for some reason mother became lost to them. Her father still spoke of her in the present tense, but she supposed it was the hopeful thinking of a surviving lover. When Riekonn wished to return to Raydawn to raise his infant daughter and teach others what he had learned of magic and the world beyond, Alejandro, getting along in years ( for a human ) thought the safe idyllic forest home of his friend a good place to spend his remaining years. And when, some years later, Raishidda showed interest in following her fathers path and becoming a mage and proving that she was willing to invest the necessary time and devotion to do it, her father said first she must learn all she could from Alejandro even though her style of casting lent more toward sorcery, like her father, and not the wizardry that Alejandro practiced. But it had been his one stipulation when he could have asked far more, and she had agreed. So for the last ten years she had apprenticed under her fathers aging friend and was becoming quite the wizard. She had realized recently that because he had trained no other apprentice and that as a human he had already lived past the average live span, she would be carrying on his unique style of magic.
    He had told her that wizards from his homeland had by his age settled down at their famous school to teach the next generation, thereby adding their style into the teaching there. She thought that kind of odd, it meant that every generation of casters was different from the last. This sort of ‘throwing it out there’ attitude was what father said was humanities greatest strength and their greatest weakness. An elf would spend several hundred years exploring a new spell, to see all variations before saying it was safe and adding it to the scrolls of his library, a human would try it once say ‘yup, it works’ and immediately teach it to all his friends, for better or worse.
    At first she thought it a chore to learn from ‘uncle’ Alejandro, perhaps just her father honoring a friends request, but then as she came to enjoy learning from the old human, she found that if not the best wizard, she was quite good at it and had come to feel honored to carry his knowledge in to the future, perhaps even teaching another someday. She still had major problems with higher powered spells but had mastered most of the ‘cantrips’, a so called ‘lesser’ spell dealing with minor effects, a lesser spell being one that, under normal circumstances, could not kill something.
    But now she had duties to her fathers guests, she tried to let them deal with their own, but now the fight was interfering with traffic on the path and she would have to intercede before they embarrassed themselves and her family further, looking back toward the balcony at the other end of the branch she was on and decided it would take to long to go back the way she came.
    “I guess I will have to ‘make an entrance’ as Alejandro always says.” So it was with a devious smile that she turned back toward the end of the limb, at the fork just in front of her.
    Her smile becoming vicious, she leaned forward, bending at the waist, allowing her right leg to come up over her head and at the same time pushing off the fork of the branch with her left foot and tucking her torso into a ball doing a complete three hundred-sixty degree turn so she fell feet first toward the ground. Half way down she crossed her forearms over her chest, palms facing outward, and invoked a nice little bit of wizardry which made her lighter, well it was a anti-momentum spell actually, but it had the effect of not killing her at the end of her plunge. She landed with a soft thud, taking the remaining speed by bending at the knees and bracing a steadying hand on the ground.
    “ Is there a problem gentlemen?” She said standing up and wiping the dust from her hands. A five foot elf falling in their midst had the desired effect of halting the argument, and as they gaped at her Raishidda was amused to note that mister Carlin, now standing in front of her, looked up in surprise, as if he expected to see it raining elves or some such, but she didn’t let it show on her features as she continued tersely, turning to face the other two humans, “Well?”.
    Sir Frederick shifted his six and-a-half foot, well muscled frame toward her and started to reply but was interrupted by the still boyish voice of lord Steven, “The problem? I’ll say there’s a problem! Ever since we got here I have not been treated with the respect I deserve. My rooms are too small. The food is horrible. And know one will listen to me! And if that wasn’t bad enough some little girl is appointed to serve my needs.” Pointing at her he continued loudly, “And I don’t care who your father is, it doesn’t matter except to you barbarians, but you had better see to my wishes! Now go run off you little bitch!”
    Raishidda, shocked at such disrespect and foul language, was glad for what happened next because she was so angry at that point if she replied it might have been with a fire bolt to his swollen, arrogant head. But before she could dishonor her family that way, sir Frederick, who was standing to the right and a little behind Steven, lifted his left hand and grabbed the collar of Stevens’ coat and lifted him a foot off the ground. Swinging his arm at the elbow bringing the little ass’s surprised face to his own fury contorted features. And if that wasn’t bad enough for his pride, Sir Fredericks’ other hand delivered an open palm slap with enough force to turn his head and drive the spittle from his mouth.
    Drawing Steven closer he said, “I’ve put up with your arrogant little tongue for quite long enough you little bastard, and if you continue to insult my friends like you been doing, I’ll beat it from your head. You will now apologize to Raishidda and beg that she doesn’t blow your head off as she has every right to do.”
    Looking at him with surprise he stammered back, “Y . . . you can’t do that! My father will . . .”
    But he was cut off again with another slap from Fredericks’ open palm. “Quiet, oaf!” He then continued somewhat calmer, “ The next words from the ass on your face had better be an ap . . . No”, he trailed off, “I’ll not make a liar out of you, any apology from you would be hollow and meaningless. Your not the duke yet and if I recall, your father put me in charge. I’ve let you have your chance to lead and you’ve just proven yourself to be a brat. These people were kind enough to let us stay, asking nothing in return, instead of sending us out into the cold tundra, where we would most likely die. And this ‘girl’ is older than I am, and is wiser than you could ever be. So, you are going back to the room our gracious hosts have provided, and if you talk again, I-will-cut-the-insolent-tongue-from-your-mouth. ” That last said through gritted teeth.
    And with that he lowered the shaken boy back to his feet where Steven seemed to realize for the first time that Frederick was at least two heads taller than him, and much wider. The boy slowly turned, never breaking eye contact, and, when his head could not twist any more walked at a hurried pace toward Willow hall.
    “Oh, and wood elves have excellent hearing, so when I ask, they’ll know if you’ve been muttering under your breath.”
    The retreating noble seemed to jolt with that bit of information, and started walking faster, nervously glancing from side to side at the passers-by, as if they had all grown fangs. As he retreated Rai felt her ears pressing back against her head. I did not think I was that angry, she thought as they relaxed into a neutral horizontal sloping position.
    When Steven turned out of sight around the trunk, Frederick turned back to face her and with a slight nod, “ There is not a humble bone in his body and what I said was true, any apology from that boy would be without meaning. It is perhaps I that owe one for letting that outrageous behavior continue for so long.” Clicking his heels, coming to attention and half bowing, he went on, “So on behalf of the Duke of Castilla, myself, and my companions, I beg your forgiveness, Lady of Willow Hall.”
    With a look of ire she replied, “Accepted, Sir Lord Frederick. But another outburst like that and my father will hear of it.” Softer, with a tone of understanding and a thin smile , “I know the road to manhood is sometimes long and painful, sometimes requiring, shall we say ‘physical assistance’ from one such as yourself to enforce the change.”
    “ As you say, lady.” A relieved stance and knowing smile taking his features, “And I’m sorry if my reference to your age offended you. I know human woman sometimes dislike discussing their age.”
    “ None taken, chivalrous sir.” She continued laughing, “Although you were not far off the mark, I am forty-seven, as you count it.”
    “ But ye can’t be older than Sarah, my teenaged daughter!” Said Carlin speaking up for the first time with his thick seaman’s drawl rolling over every syllable.
    With an amused grin on his face Frederick turned slightly to look over her shoulder at the older sailor, “Did I not tell you that these people live near half a century? Did you think they would age like us? Spending the years as a old fool like you?” The grin on his face spread, threatening to cleave it asunder. This being a oft played game between the two the other man shot back, “Ooh, sorry my great lord, yer shining presence distracted my simple mind from thinking on the matter. Perhaps the owner of the great mind that decided to go north this time of year, would like to pick me up by my collar?” he finished, presenting said part of clothing.
    Laughing again, Rai said, “Well gentlemen, I have a gathering to prepare for. You will be there?” and after the affirmative nods went on, “ Then I will see you there, Mister Carlin, Sir Frederick.” Looking at each in turn, she turned around and walked towards home.




    * * *



    Watching the elf walk away it occurred to Frederick that their young guide was quite different from the normal rasarien, well, her attitude seemed the same, he had first seen her at the Feast of the Coldwind two weeks ago and he’d been too busy worrying about Steven to do more than glance when the call went up that ‘Raishidda’s here!’, Raishi?, that’s the sylvan word meaning ‘shining dawn’, he remembered thinking. He didn’t get a good look at first, for she had quite an entourage, several magi students; recognizable from their vests instead of robes, an older elf that must’ve been her father, a very old human who looked like a wizard, and a Watcher. His eyes were drawn back their party later in the evening, his attention received by the Watcher, they were rarely seen at parties equipped with full gear and even then they usually were together. It was when he was trying to understand what that Watcher was doing that he saw more of her. A young elven female, hard to judge age what with the long Rasarien lives but when he was talking to one of the elders he had learned that there was human living in the forest who had taken one of their daughters as an apprentice. That put her up to at least thirty, when most Rasarien started their apprenticeship. He had also noticed that the younger elvers tended to give way to her, even the ones that were already studying a profession, so he revised his estimate up about ten years. The thing he noted about her now, as she leaned in to the light was her hair color. He was surprised that he hadn’t seen it before! ‘Ye gods!’ , He thought head snapping around for a closer look, ‘I’m surprised it doesn’t glow, even in this dim light. Common wood elf hair colors were dark brown, black, a color far to yellow to be called blond, dark green, and on a far more rare occurrence, purple. Rai though, had red hair. Not the red that was sometimes seen in his own people and was common with the dwarves, but bright and deep like a rose in the sun. It didn’t stop there either, as she leaned closer into the flickering candle light it seemed to fade into orange, flaming like the morning sun. Well, he thought, that explains the ‘Rai’ part of her name. But then Steven chose that moment to start hitting on an elven female and he started trying to drag him away, he heard a round of ‘Give us a dance Rai! A dance!’, he guessed she resisted at first because there was then a chanting of ‘dance! dance! dance!’, from the assembled throng, a couple of female voices shouted, ‘We’ll help you Rai! If just to shut them up!’ but by then he’d had to drag Steven outside and amid laughter there were cheers and music starting, so he guessed she had acquiesced to their wishes.
    Ah, wood elves, he thought, been here three weeks and been to six major ‘holidays’ , seven with this one tonight. These elves, in true rasarien fashion had a holiday for every week of good weather, and then some. For there was always a wedding, birthing, coming of age, or something to celebrate. He’d been to some high elf ‘parties’ and been bored to tears for each one, church services were downright boisterous by comparison. And dwarven gatherings always seemed to degenerate into massive drinking and one upmanship games. Wood elves on the other hand could at least last the night without insulting something and carrying on like pack of wild animals. Now don’t take them wrong, the ale flowed freely, and what ale it was too, songs were sung, stories told and games played (and not those ‘let’s see who passes out last’ types either). And there was dancing and sport, without all that gossip if you danced with the wrong person or wore the wrong thing, or showed up at the wrong time or another thousand things that one unfamiliar with the proper social rules could get wrong. It was one if the things he liked about the rasarien, they had their rules, their nobles, their codes and traditions, but most of those went out the door when the party started. One could drink, carry on, or dance with whom ever you wished, as long as they also wanted to and nothing was harmed (your pride might be, but you’d recover from that). There was usually a ‘reason’ for the party, but as he’d learned anything would do, there had been a ‘harvest’ party (even though there weren’t any farms nearby), a ‘first new moon after summer solstice party’ and some gathering that seemed to have no other meaning than ‘well, we partied on this day last year, and the year before’. Now mind you, these people aren’t lazy and these parties were not being thrown to keep what passed as nobles busy, quite the contrary, the elders tended to stay out of the planing of such events. Usually one of the small groups of young elves, often referred to as ‘novices’, was given the honor of arranging a party.
    And, well, there was a group of them now, they were always in a group, and seemed to be what passed as ‘gangs’ in rasarien culture. Roving packs of kids, and he used that term loosely as these ‘kids’ ranged from about fifteen to thirty years of age, would walk around fixing things, helping people, maintaining gardens, and generally acting as public servants.
    Humph. If only our cities could be this serene, he thought wryly. He supposed it came from the rasarien attitude, they had centuries to do what they wanted, why chance harm to yourself or others trying to get everything faster? It was a shame when one of them was cut down to early in life, for who or whatever did the cutting that is. He would feel sorry for the target of rasarien vengeance, but he rather liked the wood elves. They were friendly, even if most on the outside world thought them arrogant; they were just private, and they never killed or harmed without just cause. It was hard to reach a level of evil that would raise their ire, but killing one of them was a swift way to whatever afterlife you believed in.
    That was how he met them, a band of four watchers was tracking a large family of trolls that had killed one of their number. Over a hundred leagues, they chased, until they came across a lone human while they trying to cross a river, the Iroun, swollen with the winter snow melt and three times it’s already huge with. They had already gone several leagues out of their way, unable to find a ford, they spotted him. After the introductions, which involved quietly dropping from nowhere and asking him where the nearest crossing was, he told them that he did, having just crossed it himself. But he knew more than what they wanted, he had seen from a distance a large gathering of trolls clustered around a cave in the middle of a long vale, and after learning their mission he agreed to show them where it was, if he could tag along. Some grumbling (mostly in the human tongue) and many miles later, the four elves started a fight in the most expedient way possible; one of them walked up to the cave mouth, and shot a troll. The resulting fight was bloody, no quarter, no mercy, just a slaughter. All of them, two whole clans of trolls, pouring out of the crevice, were gone in a few short hours.
    The rasarien fighting style was the most fluid he’d ever seen, one skirmisher would close and hold off the fighters and the other three would pelt them with arrows, then at some point the skirmisher would fall back past the shooters, two of them following, letting the fourth take a turn holding them back, and thus they rotated giving each a rest from close combat. And in this fashion they fell back from the cave mouth, enraged trolls running into a killing field. He still didn’t know why he stayed with them and watched the slaughter, but when the one skirmishing faltered, he stepped in to help drawing his broadsword. He was no good with a bow so he stayed with whomever was holding at that time. And in this manner, falling back, advancing, some times even all of them at once would draw blades and furiously charge forward, the five of them killed all of the trolls in that vale.
    Remembering that day he decided it was how they fought in combat, flawlessly moving, rotating, covering each other, all with a minimum of sound and extensive movements, that made him except the offer to go back to their forest with them that their leader extended to him.
    He still remembered what sighter Tierighn said to him, “ Watchers are expected to risk their lives for each other and their home; you however, are not a watcher, or from Raydawn, so why did you risk helping us?”
    He replied shrugging, “It just seemed you needed a hand.” Tierighn then turned and spoke to his companions in elvish.
    Turning back towards the human he spoke again, “My companions think your help was unneeded. I however, am a realist, and believe that while unneeded, your help allowed us to finish this battle without any injury, at great risk yourself and for no other reason than, ‘we needed a hand’. So it is with that in mind, I extend an offer not oft given, an invitation to come back with us to Raydawn forest.”
    And so being young, headstrong, and having nothing better to do, I excepted, he thought more than a bit wistfully , but now I have the responsibility to change this boy into a man, a noble, someone worthy of respect. When the chore was first given to him he’d known that he’d have to restrict Steven’s access to the things that made his life easier. However, just removing him from the castle hadn’t worked, so he’d asked to take the young man on a ‘trip’. The boy’s mother was resistant at first, but when he was caught, um, ‘dabbling’ with a female courtier, the Duchess had been mad enough to wash her hands of the situation, finally allowing me and the Duke to have our way. And so this ‘little trip’, let the little pissant deal with some hardship, a little hunger, a little cold, he’ll soon appreciate the finer things in life, maybe even with a little gratitude.
    No, that would be expecting too much, he thought, mentally sighing, just getting back home without killing him is all I ask now. You hear that gods?
    Nope, still no answer. Sighing aloud this time he let his head fall towards the ground. He’d never been a religious man, but he needed all the help he could get. And now when the rumor mill they called Silverfall village got word of this little ‘incident’, the elves would be even more wary around him. And it had to be with all these people around? Didn’t it? At least I got one break, the passers by, true to wood elf fashion, didn’t interfere. If it went beyond just the family we are staying with, well, It might have been a very cold winter.
    Sighing again, he turned; he had a party to get ready for and a young noble to chew out.
    “C’mon, Carlin, lets go party.”
    And with that the human and his ever present friend wandered back to their rooms.




    * * *



    The fires in the braziers had been set, the awnings of the party bridge extended to their full expansive reach and most of the thousand elves in the area were gathered on the banks around, for this wasn’t just another gathering, this was the last holiday till next summer. At what a bash it was, today was the last full moon of summer, and according to tradition this was the day one elf maiden would go to the endless hills, south of their quiet vale, and there would pick a single blood rose from the vines that grew out from the unknown ruins there.
    It was said that long, long ago, in a time even forgotten by the long lived Rasarien, a young girl, being told by the forest spirt where it was, picked a rose the grew from a spring deep in the wood. She gave it to the one she loved, saying, as she had been told by the forest, that it would bring the warmth of spring where ever he went. Excepting the gift, the young man went out into the world to make his fortune. Many years, trials and hardships later when he returned, having made his fortune, he asked the young maiden to marry him, saying that the rose, unfaded and still as red as the day it was picked, had done as she said, bringing warmth and her memory where ever he went. After a short while they agreed to marry by the next spring. But unbeknownst to them a greedy wizard had learned of the rose, and its power, and craved it himself. Following he elf, even unto to his wedding, he attacked them taking the young maiden in his arms demanding the rose for her life. But this girl was not helpless, she had the life of the forest in her and bent from his wicked grasp. Seeing his chance, the groom attacked the wizard, yelling for his betrothed to run, and after a short fight he followed, closely pursued by the furious spell caster. They ran on until the bride suddenly fell to the ground. As the groom tried to raise her he was befallen with evil laughter from the wizard, close on their trail. ‘You fool’, the dark mage said, raising a clawed hand, ‘the poison on my nail has killed her already. Best not let the same happen to you and give me what I want’, he continued in a dark voice. Shedding a single tear the elf lowered his bride’s body and faced his antagonist, saying, ‘you will not possess the rose and very soon you will not possess your life’. At that the young elf gathered his strength and attacked, the battle going on for hours with neither getting the advantage of the other until the wizard finally gained the upper hand; pausing to bask in his victory he suddenly cried out in surprise as a sharp blade of vines thrust through him. Looking at the vines in disbelief the dying groom saw that they sprouted from, and all around, his bride’s body. He crawled over to her body and there dying said, ‘even in death she loves me’. So one rose was brought back from the site, if the rose wilted before she got back a long winter was forthcoming, if it survived, a short winter and warm spring.
    And that was why a several hundred elves crowded onto the banks of the Illrulieon, to see off the chosen girl. But why they were there was not on the mind of Raishidda as she scanned the crowd for a particular face; she had a good vantage point, from the elders table, but still could not spot Runner. She sat two places down from the head of the table where, as per tradition, sat an empty well crafted chair. That chair was always left empty at these gatherings as a reminder of lost comrades; even in death a place was held for them. She was there early, siting near the part of the bridge that was extended out over the water and raised up to serve as a stage for the dancers and reenactors. The table sat several strides away from the actual stage area itself. Made from a gently curving length of root from some long gone tree it could seat about thirty elves, the elders and their guests. Elders though did not have official capacity in Rasarien culture, they were not elected, or chosen, and they did receive position from inheritance, they just were.
    Her own father slowly earned that title by becoming one of the most knowledgeable magi in the area, not a powerful caster but his library had now become the basis for the school of magic. Before he brought back all those tomes it had barely deserved that name but now, after Willow Hall had been entrusted to him, it was the center of most magical study in Raydawn. Father is still trying to get Mistress Softwalker to move her lifemenders into the hall. We do have the room. But, Smiling she thought of the clash that would occur if that happened. All those quiet, modest, soft speaking healers with father’s bunch of rabble-rousers. Would not last long.
    She was jarred from her revery buy someone sitting down several places down from her, Seer E’iedon, the master of Watchers. He was still something of an unknown to her, he was quite old, somewhere late in his third millennia, fairly close to the four hundred fifty years that was the average lifetime among Rasarien. Like the rest of the secretive Watchers he preferred his privacy. Well, that was unfair, they had quiet tongues as well as quiet feet. A close brotherhood who’s duty it was to guard the forest and they had little interest in much else.
    There was a scraping sound from up on the stage she saw the novices setting up curtains held by a frame work. Basically a large black box for the actors to hide in while waiting their time. Staring at them trying to set up some other small pieces of scenery and having a hard time for such a simple job brought a smile to her face, I was never that young, she thought at herself, I am still young, yet sometimes I feel older. Blight! See, it has even got me swearing. Oh yes, Rai, life is hard on you. She mockingly thought. I have a large loving family, many friends, my father is an important person, and I have only really only had one thing denied me and I got that back, or a chance at it least. He will be here, she thought to herself for the thousandth time, It has only been a few minuets and already I am fretting. Great. I can keep my cool as a spell blows up around me but I get jittery when a boy is a little late. What was that human phrase? Ah, yes, ‘ giddy as a school girl’. Sigh.
    “What was that?” said the elf to her left.
    “Nothing, father. I just, I wondered where . . . sigh. I am worried about him.”
    Smiling softly Riekonn turned his full attention to his daughter, looking away from the antics of the reenactors on the stage, “You miss your friend, yes? Do not worry, he is strong of heart and has a sharp mind, when it is not floating around in the clouds, he will find his way back.”
    “I know father, and I know we agreed not to force a path upon him; but seeing him so indecisive, it worries me. And what happened this morning, we have never yelled at each other before and I keep wondering, if, if . . .” She trailed off not wanting to say anything more with all the ears nearby.
    Riekonn smiled thinly and took over, “One bases decisions on past experiences, with losing his memory Edilon must think, ‘in the blind’, as it were. When one has nothing to compare them to, each choice is made more a guess than a decision. He was always shy and unassuming before, so did you expect a quick resolution now?”
    “I know, I just wish he would do something, it has been months.”
    “Ah, ha! That’s better. Runner is not the only one that has been moping around. I am glade that the quick acting, decisive daughter I know is back. You have been very ‘understanding’ lately, when he what he was needed a good talking down.”
    But before Raishidda could respond to that, a voice from over her shoulder responded, “ You wouldn’t be talking about this old fool would you?”
    “If I were talking about you Alejandro, I would be using more ‘colorful’ words. Is there not a ‘decrepit old fool’ table for you somewhere?”, Riekonn greeted his.
    “If I could remind you that you’re older and more foolish than even me?” , he shot back.
    “ You are just jealous that I age better than you.”
    “ That’s only true if by better you mean ‘shorter’.” Alejandro said as he sat down to the right of Raishidda. The ageing human had once again refused assistance in getting to the bridge, saying that, “The day I can’t make it to be a party on my own power is the day I’ll ride in a pine box and the people helping me would be called ‘pallbearers’, thanks, but I’ll manage.”
    Sitting down next to her she felt a quick flash of sadness for the aging human, he was well into what passed as ancient for humans and did not have many years left, if any. No, he still has the spark in his eyes. I think we have a few years more to put up with him, she thought fondly.
    “Why the morose look, Rai?” Alejandro said, eyes narrowing.
    “Oh, sorry uncle, I was thinking.”
    “Would this have anything to do with that racket this morning? Something about a certain messenger doing something about his situation?
    ‘Bout time someone told him to get of his rear and start living again. But you could have waited until after I was downstairs, Rai, sounded like something I would’ve wanted front row seats for.” He went on, grin fading, “But seriously, how is he? He’s always been the quiet type but he never shunned contact like he’s been doing.”
    “We are not sure.” Interjected Riekonn. “I was half hoping that you knew.”
    “No. But then again, he been ill at ease around me since he woke up.”
    “I suppose being unconscious for five years and forgetting everything would tend to take away the familiarity we gained.”
    “Time, Alejandro, time to find what he lost, is what he needs.”
    “Yes, I agree. But too much time and he’ll be lost again. Besides, he’s young, he has too much future ahead and he’s smart enough to know it. He’ll be back, he won’t be the same, no one goes through what he did and is unchanged. The question is, will he learn, or will he be lessened by this?”
    “The only thing we can do now is show him the door to the future, we can not force him through it. Though we can show him rather forcefully. Is that not right Rai?”
    “I guess I was rather abrupt with him, father.” Spoke up Rai for the first time in a minute. Smiling resignedly she went on, “I suppose I should have been more understanding with him.”
    “Come, come, now, where is the gung-ho, spit in yer’ eye, take no prisoners and don’t look back Raishidda I’ve always known? Riekonn, I do believe someone has replaced your daughter with a shape-changer.”
    “That would explain her calm demeanor with bouts of grumbling these last few weeks.”
    Supported her father.
    “Rai’s been calm at some point in the past few weeks? That is odd.”
    Returned Alejandro through grinning teeth, he went on turning to face her, “All joking aside though Rai, as I said before a swift kick in the posterior is exactly what he needed and if you have to do it again count me in. I’m even missing those incessant questions he used to throw at me.”
    ‘You are right uncle, I gave him space at first because of the shock he had, losing one’s entire way of life is enough to make anyone more reclusive, but I let it go to far. I kept not doing anything until I just could not take anymore.” Looking around she saw that the crowd had drawn closer to the stage that was extended far out over the water, held there by massive timbers reaching out from the bridge. Planks had been lain across the timbers so they formed a broad deck, nearly doubling the floor space of the bridge. The awnings had been taken down so that the stage could be seen from all points on the banks of the river. Many years ago, when she was much younger, she had wondered how the actors got so much on stage, for the small curtained area was far to small to contain all she saw on stage. So, young and adventuresome as she was, she wandered off under the bridge, finding that they were siting on small boats and rafts under the stage going up through a small trap door just under the curtained area, when the next batch of scenery or actors was needed a group in the boats would trade with the group on stage. She had gone up through that door many times, since she was one of the best dancers in the region she often was asked to lead the others in the traditional dances. She had even participated in the famed ‘Snow Faerie Dance’ as the lead; Red Faerie.
    “Rai?” A voice cut in through her musing.
    “Oh, sorry father, I was just thinking of a time that the most I had to worry about was remembering the right dance steps and not missing my cue.” But his reply was stopped before it began by the raspy voice of Alejandro.
    “Come, come Rai, you are far to young to be contemplating your past. Why I was at least sixty before my first pondering. So enough of this serious talk, this a party!” Standing wobbly up to his bent, yet still comparatively tall height, the old human grabbed his goblet and banged on the table, startling Rai and Riekonn at his sudden movement.
    “A toast!” He paused to look around, and Rai noticed for the first time the sun was nearly down, Almost time for them to announce who the maiden is to be this year. “A toast,” he repeated looking around to see that he had everyone’s attention, “A toast, ironic though it may seem coming from one so close to his final journey,” a low laugh issued through parts of the the crowd, Alejandro had declared himself ‘close to death’ nearly fifteen years ago and was well known to loudly declare to any listening that he was ‘moments away from death’. It had become something of a joke about town. But now Rai noted a wistful edge to the laughter, it had become plain that he was rapidly ageing and though they understood he was human and well past his prime, it would still be a loss to many when he died. The human was friendly and outgoing, well loved about town by the older and younger generations alike.
    But if he was willing joke about it, then they all were, but Rai still felt a pang of sadness when she saw the edge of pain in his eyes. Steading himself with a hand on the table he went on, “ In all my travels, journeys and adventures the one thing always in front of me, edging me on, giving me hope, the thing that binds us together no matter what our past or race, the place we all end up, though the journey may be hard on some and easy on others, we do make it there, my friends, nay, my family, I present to you. . .” he paused meeting the crowd’s eye with a lingering gaze, the breezy fall air blowing through, as if whispering its secrets to the assembled throng, Alejandro took a deep steading breath, strength seeming to flow into him off the chill air, raised his goblet and went on, “The future!” Draining his goblet and sitting back down to resounding cries of ‘the future!’ , he said softly under his breath, “May it not be as dark as twas foretold.” Rai darted a confused glance toward him, but he was staring down into his wine, already deep in thought. She looked past him towards her father, but he seemed not to notice, his eyes aimed at the stage where a young elf moved to the podium set at the edge of it. Rai recognized him as one of the young apprentice casters, Noral, that is his name, he was from one of the smaller outlying villages several leagues from Silver fall. Rai had spoken with him on several occasions, or rather listened to him talk about his home village. She recalled that he spoke of it with a intensity that told her he much loved it and was becoming a mage to help better it. He now seamed to be enchanting a small rock that he held in his hand.
    “Good evening.” he said setting the rock on the dais. From her angle she noticed that the rock was glowing and from the way his voice seemed to come from all parts of the river banks ans surrounding area she guessed that he was using a modified voice casting spell. Normally only two stones were used, one would talk into one stone and your voice would be carried over to the matching stone as long as it was not too far away. But this stone was set to send messages to many other small stones scattered around the banks, thereby allowing the many gathered elves to hear the speaker without him having to shout.
    “My name is Noral Cal’logn, and I have the honor of acting as host and the narrator for the nights portrayal of, ‘The Rose Maiden’. As per tradition though, the player for the role of the maiden was not chosen until a few moments ago. We had many choices, but the one who will act as the young heroine in our play and fetch the rose from the ruins, is here.” He said holding up a small piece of parchment, unfolding and reading it he went on, “Well, she has not far to walk to gain the stage, is that not right Raishidda So’rugne, maiden of the rose?”
    It took a few seconds for her brain to make the connection but it was not until her father tapped her on the shoulder that she actually responded. It was kind of a shock, she had once been in the play but only as a secondary character and choreographer. Some of the others had jokingly said that they would nominate her, but as an organizer she could vote but not have the lead. She had devoted the last ten years of her life to the study of magic, well, she had also kept up her dancing, but she had not been involved with any of the novice groups since. She was once again shaken from her reverie by her father calling her name. Regaining her composure she stood and pivoted toward the gathered throng smiling as though her face would split, she waived. After the cheers died down some, she walked toward the podium in a slightly mechanical fashion where Noral stepped back with a slight nod, grinning from ear to ear. She turned toward the crowd, noting with some displeasure that her fathers ears were twitching in restrained laughter, He knew! He knew and did not tell me!. Internally she was laughing now, Have your fun father, I will get you. Oh yes I will get you. To the crowd though she smiled and bowed as far as the pedestal would let her. Pausing for a moment to collect her thoughts, she then spoke.
    “This is a surprise,” She twisted her head to look at Goron, “And I would like to thank the novices for the honor they have offered me.” She paused again scanning the crowd, now still and quieted. It has been known for a nominee to refuse so they waited for the response. The stillness was broken though, by a rustling in the treetops, the whole crowd seemed to look up in annoyance as if they collectively wished to scold whoever or whatever was interrupting the moment. With a sudden thud the moment was over and, not a hundred strides away right on the edge of the bridge and facing away from the dais, a brown haired shirtless rasarien landed hard on his feet and thumped onto his rear. Rubbing said backside, the young elf looked up into the trees with a confused look, as if searching for something. Still looking up his face began to brighten as a light tan object fluttered down on top of him. Standing up he started to put on his shirt, for that is what the fluttering object was, he seemed to notice for the first time the staring, with a concerned look now that they knew what was causing all the commotion, and still silent crowd. Looking around while finishing the shirt donning he seemed to consider what to do for a moment, then, straitening up as if coming to attention, he bowed. Not a shallow half bow, but a full bent at the waist flourished bow. One could hear the wind stirring the ground and the faint sigh of the branches, so silent it was. Then from the elders table a deep incredulous human voice called out, “Is it raining elves?” Remembering her own incident from earlier, Rai could not contain the laughter that erupted from her and soon the whole crowd was infectiously rumbling with the same uproarious mirth. That bow though, that was something the old Runner would have never done but was something Runner the recluse would have not done either. Over the cacophony a far more raspy yet still human voice called again from the elders table, “Is something chasing Runner? That shirt perhaps?”
    Through rekindled laughter Rai stared at Runner, mind racing, something had suddenly occurred to her. Looking at the idea from every angle she did not see a problem, at least not one that could be argued away.
    After waiting for the laughter to die she then went on, smiling broadly, “As I was saying before that interesting demonstration on how not to land from a fall, I would love to play the Rose Maid.” After a few cheers and some polite clapping she continued, “ And while I was up here I had a chance to choose who my first guardian candidate is but I might have to change my mind, being chased by a mere shirt? Not the behavior I need in a ‘protector’ Runner.” The sarcasm in her words shown by her lightness of tone and grinning face she looked Runner in the eye, “So think you can make it to the southern ruins? Or shall I ask that shirt you were chasing?” The crowd was silent now, this was the best entertainment to come their way in long while and a answer was needed so they could get on with the rest of the nights revelry. Runner though, was glancing around sheepishly at the crowd, seemed the pause, considering, looked up at Rai, as his ears perked up . Staring in to his eyes she paused, there was a certain spark, a gleam in the corner that had been missing these last six months. Then there might be . . .
    She stopped as he opened his mouth and spoke.
    “I would enjoy accompanying you on your journey.” Smiling, he finished in a softer tone so his voice just carried to her, “Thanks Rai.”
    There was a pause as the answer was disseminated through the crowd with nods and murmurs of agreement.
    “Well,” said Noral stepping back up to the podium, “If you would step through the curtain we will begin.”
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2006
  3. AjaxTorbin

    AjaxTorbin New Member

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    this is my first full novel and unfortunatly the only works of mine i can share because
    oneday, long, long ago my mother needed a cd-rom(and by cd-rom i of course mean floppy disk), finding one she overwrote it. And then, of course, i had to reinstall windows'95(yes that long ago). Thinking that i had copies of everything i went ahead and did that. Fool that i was.

    *sigh* parrents, gotta lov' 'im, but sometimes . . . grrrr.

    oh well, that was mostly sci-fi stuff anyway
    But this is my first forray back into writing since then and i do hope it entertained you
    an hour or two.


    ~Torbin~
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2006
  4. AjaxTorbin

    AjaxTorbin New Member

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    More Of Chap One

    ___________^^see above^^____________


    . . .MORE TO COME ON THIS CHAPTER
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2006
  5. AjaxTorbin

    AjaxTorbin New Member

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    slowly it comes together
     
  6. Oeufa

    Oeufa Cracked Egg

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    Wow. Good work, i really enjoyed it - can't wait to read more :D