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Eliym's Tale

Discussion in 'Creativity Surge' started by Late-Night Thinker, Jun 24, 2011.

  1. Late-Night Thinker Gems: 17/31
    Latest gem: Star Diopside

    Mar 30, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Two men lied in wait, hidden behind the fallen trunk of an old oak tree long dead and studded with fan-like mushrooms. One of them was old and stout, with a haggard beard grey as iron. The other was young and lean, and had a narrow, eager face. They had their swords drawn, and each was upon a knee, ducking low, ready to spring into action. One of them had used his blade to chop a cleft through the rotting bark, and it was through this groove that they watched the cloaked figure approach.

    “You see that, bastard's got...” The older man's hushed words came to a sudden halt. He had been about to mention the sword dangling from the cloaked figure's hip, when after breathing just a few syllables, the cloaked man had jerked his head up and fixed the shadowy recesses of his hood directly upon their position. There's no way he should have been able to hear us, the man realized with a sharp intake of breath.

    The cloaked figure suddenly slipped to his right. His movements were startlingly quick and eerily silent, like the shadow of a darting fox. In the span of a heartbeat, he had disappeared from the branch-strewn path and melted into the bushes alongside, completely evading their perception.

    “Where'd he go?!” the young man whispered, peeking his head above the tree trunk and peering about.

    “Shh!” replied the grey-bearded man, reaching over and grasping the lad's shoulder. “I think he can hear us!”

    Both held their breath. Only the stray chirping of some hidden bird broke the unfolding silence.

    “What should we do?” Alarmed, the youth's harsh voice rose in volume. It seemed he had all but given up on the element of surprise. He moved about, feeling threatened by every swaying shadow, sure that an attack was imminent.

    With a flip of cold fear, the man realized the situation was spiraling out of control. He jumped to his feet and called out, “Show yourself!” Only the hidden bird responded, and that by ceasing its chirping. Holding his sword before him, he searched the woods for any sign of the cloaked figure. “We're armed! Show yourself, I say!”

    Tense moments passed, the only sounds being the heavier man's rapid, frightful breathing and the youth scraping the dirt as he turned this way and that, apparently trying to look in all directions at once. Suddenly, an even voice, toned with a mellow, flowing accent, commanded from behind, “Lower your swords.”

    They spun around, nearly flying out of their boots in shock. Not more than ten paces distant stood the cloaked figure. How he had circled about them so quickly, and that without making a noise, was entirely uncanny. He had a longbow in his hands. It was pulled taut with a steel-tipped arrow knocked and ready to loose. He was aiming directly for the older man's heart. Of his face, they could see little save the sharp glow of two unblinking eyes, as the shadows of his hood were too deep to reveal his features.

    Again he commanded, “I said, lower your swords.” His strange, foreign accent carried neither fear nor aggression.

    “We don't want a fight!” The older man lowered his sword and raised his left hand, palm outward. “We just knew you was following us, is all. We wanted to—”

    He didn't have a chance to finish his explanation, for he was cut off by the youth at his side unleashing a bloody howl. With his sword raised high, the young man charged, closing the distance in bountiful, madcap leaps. The older man yelled, “No, Jorl! Stop! No!”

    The cloaked figure shifted his bow from the older man to the charging youth. After a split second of consideration, he nudged his aim and released the drawstring. The arrow flew no more than hand span distant from the youth's shoulder, flying off into the woods beyond, slapping leaves as it went. Before it hit the ground, the cloaked man had already dropped his bow and drew a hidden dagger.

    The youth closed the distance between them. With his entire strength, he swung two-handedly, crashing down upon the cloaked man with a wild overhead strike. It was a blow intended to kill—a blow intended to hew the hooded man's head in half. With lightning fast reflexes, he parried with his dagger, rolling the blow to the side while dodging to his left. As the youth's momentum drove his blade into the ground, there was an ear-splitting clang as he struck upon a rock hidden in the underbrush. The sword jumped out of his hands, nearly bouncing back to strike him in the face. Before he even had a chance to realize he was disarmed, the cloaked man had slipped a foot behind him and suddenly the sky was not where it was supposed to be and the ground was rushing up to greet him. His hands flew up, trying to grasp upon the thin air. As the earth impacted from behind, it drove the wind from his lungs, and the cloaked man was already upon him, pressing a knee into his chest, pinning him to the ground. The youth felt the cold edge of a blade at his throat, but he hardly noticed as his world collapsed into the sole focus of trying to recover the breath that had been battered from his lungs.

    “No!” the older man yelled. “Please stop! Have mercy! He's my son. Here,” he plead, throwing his sword to ground, “you win. I yield. I yield. He's my son...my stupid, thoughtless, ass of a son. Please, sir, don't kill him!”

    They stared at one another intently, the older man's hands outstretched and shaking, the stranger with his knee upon the lad's chest and a blade to his throat. The youth gasped and wheezed. Each heartbeat seemed an eternity. The cloaked man's hood had fallen back during the tumult of the melee. He was young, possibly even as young as the lad he had pinned beneath him. He had auburn hair, pulled back and bound in a simple wayfarer's style. His eyes were emerald green—green like the leaves in late-spring and almond-shaped; he was clearly from a realm foreign and distant. Despite their bright, youthful color, there was a firmness to his jaw that spoke of seasons beyond his years. He had noble features, handsome if somewhat alien, but it wasn't his eyes or his face that caused the man's mouth to gape...his ears, at the top, they tapered to points!

    “Your an elf!” the man exclaimed, his eyes boggling.

    “I am a man who's custom it is to hobble brigands and highwaymen so that they may never again prey upon simple travelers.”

    The grey-bearded man stood stiff, his mouth wordlessly opening and closing like an unlatched shutter. He nervously brought his hands to his midsection and laid them upon his sweaty belly. “But...we're no thieves, sir. I swear. We're just simple travelers. The roads...ever since those accursed comets appeared, the roads been empty 'cept for evil men and wretched beasts. My boy caught sight of you trailing us. We just wanted to ask you some questions, make sure you weren't planning on robbing us in the night.”

    He squinted his strange, almond-shaped eyes in suspicion. “Your son has a rather violent manner of question-asking. If he weren't such a clumsy oaf, I'd be dead. What good would your questions do then?”

    “Sir,” the bearded man explained earnestly, speaking in a soft, confessional tone, “my son is thick-headed and believes the things he hears in bard's tales. He wants to be a hero, you see. It's all his mother can do to keep him alive.”

    The strange man held his gaze, gradually exhaling the adrenaline of battle. He glared down at the lad beneath him. “If I let you go, will you behave more politely?” The youth nodded and tried to speak, but only managed to release choked, wheezing noises. He raised his knee off the lad's chest. The boy sat up and leaned forward, doing his best to regain the use of his lungs. The stranger sheathed his dagger and smoothed his clothes with a guarded deliberateness that made it plain he still did not fully trust the two men before him. He leaned down and retrieved his bow, slinging it over-shoulder in a traveling fashion.

    “What are your names?”

    “I'm Olner, and this is Jorl,” the grey-bearded man said, indicating his son. Then, his eyes flickering with undisguised wonder as he stared at the stranger's pointy ears, he asked, “And your name, sir?”

    “I am called Eliym.” Feeling Olner's gaze fixated upon him, he added, “Eliym...Half-Elven.” Olner broke into a dumbfounded smile, barely believing his own eyes. A half-elf? Who knew such a thing existed? “And,” Eliym added wryly, “your son is much stronger than he looks.”

    They both turned to regard the lad. He had apparently regained his breath, and was now on his knees, holding his sword before him. “Blazes in hell,” the youth swore. Where it had struck upon the rock, the blade's edge was misshapen and bent. “No way my allowance is going to afford getting this smithed.” The devastation this caused him was palpable, weighing down his shoulders with the crushing burden of dashed hope as only the young may know. “Blazes in hell...” he repeated, sighing dejectedly.

    “Come now, Jorl,” Olner reproved, a note of pity creeping into his voice, “your mother doesn't like it when you swear.” After shaking his head sadly, he turned to Eliym and stated formally, “I insist upon feeding you tonight. It's the least we can do. Our camp lies just over that hill, along the path toward Gladmead. That is the direction you were heading, after all, I must assume. Come now, Jorl. Get up. Let's go. We'll get it fixed someday, I promise.”

    And off the three men went, Olner, resolutely determined; Eliym, uncertain, but happy for the company; and Jorl, his head hung low and his damaged blade hanging limply at his side. As he walked, the tip of the sword drug a meandering path down the dirt trail, following the trudging youth all the way back to his hastily pitched tent.

    His first chance at battle...and it had ended like that. With the way things had gone, it seemed entirely reasonable for him to assume that he'd just never get another opportunity to sword fight ever again.
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2011
  2. Late-Night Thinker Gems: 17/31
    Latest gem: Star Diopside

    Mar 30, 2003
    Likes Received:
    “Eliym, this is my wife, Purly,” Olner gestured toward the rather frumpy-looking, stout woman of advanced years. She wore a shawl pulled over her head, and had deep creases etched upon her face. The lines turned her expression into one of a permanent scowl. Olner cheerfully continued, “...and this is my cart, and this is my donkey, Pici.”

    Eliym immediately turned his eyes toward the unusually named donkey, wondering why in the world it was named after one of the most infamous rulers of the Circean Empire, when the grey-haired donkey, sensing it was receiving attention from behind, glanced back over its haunches and returned his gaze with a look of such disinterested haughtiness that Eliym could do little but smile and shake his head. That explained the name, he thought. The donkey flicked his tail a couple times, doing it at such a languid pace that it was obvious Pici was consciously trying to show Eliym just how dull and ordinary he was in comparison to the grass the donkey had just been grazing upon.

    The lines on Purly's face deepened, and her habitual scowl gained newfound life. “Oh thanks, Olner, you bloomin' idiot! Introducing me with the donkey!” The bulbous end of her nose crisply punctuated each syllable with fiery exasperation. “Why didn't you just say, 'this is my cook, this is my stuff, and this is my ass', huh? Really give our guest the royal treatme—Ayyeee!”

    Upon hearing himself referred to as a guest, Eliym pulled back his hood. Purly's reaction was immediate and severe. The fiery scowl of a moment prior was transformed into shocked fright. Aside from an opened-wide boggling of her brown, rheumy eyes, and a slackening of her narrow jaw, the change in expression took place with very little alteration in the general sketch of her prominent facial creases. It seemed as if her scowl and her fright were siblings, and any other expression arrived upon her face as a distant relative, familiar though barely recognizable.

    “He's an elf!” she exclaimed.

    “No, no, Purly—he's a half-elf,” Olner corrected, adopting his most worldly air.

    Peeking from behind her husband's shoulder, she brusquely asked, “Half-elf? Well, what's the other half?”

    “Well, Purly, he's, um...” Olner faltered, his brow creasing as he searched for an answer. “I'm not actually...”

    “I'm half human,” Eliym stated, addressing them both. “My mother was human, a simple seamstress from Tali. She was...a dear woman. She passed away eight years ago, gods bless her soul.”

    Purly's initial bout of mistrust faded into empathy for the young man's loss. The knowledge that this strange youth once had a woman much like herself to call Mother touched upon her heart. “I'm sorry for your loss, Eliym.” She pronounced his name slowly and deliberately, finding the strange syllables difficult to form. “It's such a tragedy when a woman dies before her time. When men die in their strongest years, they're often cheered for whatever foolishness got them killed, but when a young women passes away...” She shook her head sadly.

    “Actually, my mother was lucky enough to live a full life. She died in her sleep, an elderly woman.”

    “Oh..?” Purly was confused. By human reckoning, Eliym appeared to be no more than twenty years of age. “How old are you, young man?”

    “I am sixty-one, Ma’am.”

    Purly blinked in surprise. The youthful-seeming man standing before her was actually older by almost a decade. Her eyes hardened and her lips pressed close. She should have known better than to trust an elf. “I don't want no magicking here, you understand? I'm no fool. I know you elves possess all sorts of sorcereries. I don't want none of it, you understand?”

    “Aw, Purly!” Olner broke in. “Can't we let him show the boy a little something? Something harmless, you know? Why, I ain't seen magic since when I was just a boy, and that was—”

    “No magic!” Purly settled the matter with swift finality. “Ever since Jorl seen that tourney two summers ago, he ain't been nothing but eager to get himself killed. Last thing I need is him growing another wild hair and heading off to the nearest wizard's tower to have gods know what done to him. They'll make him eat eyeballs, Olner. Eyeballs! So, no—no magic!”

    “It's quite...” Eliym began, then paused when he saw how intensely they fixed their attention upon him. He began again, “It's quite alright. I actually...I am incapable of magic. I can't do it.” Despite two years of traveling through human lands, he still found this weakness tough to admit. All elves worked magic—magic of the most beautiful and serene order. An elf that was born nimaan—that is, unable to touch upon the magical essence of life—was a heart-breaking tragedy for both the innocent family that bore conception, as well as the community that provided care. Inevitably they died young, stunted, unable to understand the very reason for their suffering. Eliym would never forget the shame he'd felt as a young man, when despite his best efforts, despite his complete devotion, his focus, his tears...it just wasn't there; inside him, where other elves found light and impetus, there was nothing, nothing at all...

    His elven friends, they forgave him. They understood he was half-human. But Eliym could see it in their eyes and hear it in the strange, distant way in which they addressed him...they did not think of him as half-elf. He was something else—something foreign and maybe even dangerous. Humanity... Humanity survived upon muscle, skill, and cunning. They thrived by self-sacrifice and wanton blood-letting. The objects their crafts produced were often worth more to them than the very lives of the people that formed them. And why not? Most died before they'd seen even fifty summers. What was a lone man with the lifespan of an owl in comparison to a structure of stone and mortar that would stand for ages?

    It wasn't long after his mother died that Eliym had decided to leave Kel'Thallis.

    His friends...they were very kind to him in those final days, after he had announced his intentions. Their kindness had been the final painful stroke that had severed any remaining tether he felt to his homeland. His friends had been warm, and they had been generous. They had been...gracious—gracious for his leaving.

    “Well, whether you can or can't, elf, no magic!”

    “Aw, Purly, be nice. Eliym is a fine fellow. Now, I've promised the man a dinner, and a fine meal he shall eat. Use any meats we have left...and Purly,” Olner whispered to his wife, though his need to be polite kept him from truly whispering, “if the meats turned a bit, use whatever spices we got. Even the peppercorn.”

    Purly's creases found the depths of her scowl. “Oh, use the peppercorn,” she muttered, walking away to begin her duties, “ain't nothing more costly than a stupid man and his stranger...”

    The moment passed, and just as Eliym and Olner regained eye-contact, each feeling secure that the potential disaster of Purly's ire had passed, her shrill voice pierced the calm, crying out in accusation, “What in the blazes happened to Jorl's sword?!”
  3. Late-Night Thinker Gems: 17/31
    Latest gem: Star Diopside

    Mar 30, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Added the second scene and did some heavy editing of the first. Hopefully someone is getting a kick out of this!
  4. Barmy Army

    Barmy Army Simple mind, simple pleasures... Adored Veteran

    May 26, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Bloody hell, not seen you in a while LNT!
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