Vignette of Central Character - Liza - on the eve of a turning point in her life
|The Beginning of Everything
© By: Elfin Dragon; aka Lisa, May 13, 2015
Spring has settled on our protected valley once again. Flowers have sprung across its great length (a five day journey on horseback in any direction). This morning fog blankets the interior and dragon hatchlings are waking to begin playing an early morning game of tag, sending ghostly wisps gaily into the sky. The dragons live on our eastern mountain range protecting the passageway to our harbor. Some of the elder dragons, like my father, help us in other capacities such as training, education and diplomacy.
As I stand and stretch luxuriously in the new air on the stone balcony of our Southern fortress which has been dug into the mountain through the combined efforts of elves, dwarves and dragons; I look out at the vast city below which was also carved from the very same mountain. Elegant stone dwellings, spires and stairways all looking as if the mountain itself wished the city into existence.
Off in the distance, I could barely discern the northern mountain range with its commerce pass. Other than the passage the dragons guard it was the one truly safe route into the valley without a guide. For on the west is the Forest of Sorrows. It is the one place our Elven Rangers patrol constantly lest some foul beast appear from a strange portal or an unlucky traveler decide to brave the one road through its magical trees without a Ranger by their side. The forest is aptly named for it drags the unwary to a sad and lonesome death.
I closed my eyes and took one last deep breath of morning air. The fog was dissipating, revealing the protected chapel between the wall and the fortress where Jayrm the white World Tree grew. She would be choosing new attendants today from the young elves who’ve been training it.
I briefly considered shifting to dragon form to play some tag with the young hatchlings. But as an elf, I had duties and obligations to perform. Mother would scold me something fierce if I were not at my appointed rounds. Even now I could hear her soft knock at my door before she came in, as was her habit in the morning. She walked softly across the stone floor then settled a soft hand upon the shoulder of my five foot, agile frame. We stood there in silence, watching the sun rise above the forest. A ritual done since the day I was born. It was our single moment together before the chaos of the day, our time of perfect peace broken only by speech.
“How is it with you my daughter? You seem more troubled than usual this morning. Are you considering flight again?” At the last question she gently brushed back my long copper tresses.
“It is not just flight mother. I have other concerns upon my mind and I am not sure if my being a Guardian has anything to do with them.”
Her hand fell from my shoulder at that statement and I looked at her. I could see the concern on her face as she sighed and put both hands on the balcony rail.
“My daughter of two worlds. Such a great burden has been placed upon you.”
“Mother we should be trading with humans beyond…”
“NO!” She quickly cut me off before I could go any further. “You know contact with humans is forbidden.” She shook her head, an uncommon sight for elves which meant it was a very serious matter. She then straightened from the balcony railing to look at me directly. “After the ceremony with Jayrm your duties for the next few seasons will be in the Library.’
I smiled at the last bit. The Library was more than just books. It was a depository of knowledge for all races, even humans. It was a place to get lost in, or from.
“Your father will be there,” mother continued a little more softly, “perhaps you can speak to him of your concerns. Until then, hurry and dress. You don’t want to be late for the ceremony. Jayrm will miss you if you are not there.” She said the last while walking towards the door. When she reached it she smiled faintly and closed the door as softly as she had entered.
I sighed. It was true Jayrm would miss me if I was not at the ceremony. I was the only elf she has spoken extensively to in the last several hundred millennia. I would certainly not disappoint her. So I sat at my dressing table and braided my hair with strung amber beads them looped the braids through a simple silver circlet set upon my forehead to set off my copper eyes. I chose to wear a tan outfit, upon which was stitched in gold and brown my house crest upon the left shoulder. The stitching flowed from the crest outward in beautiful waves of gold and brown across the fabric showing glimpses of a forest in fall. All serving toward the effect as if my hair and the outfit as being one entity, there was no telling where one began and the other ended. The last item of the entourage was Soul, the sword of my people, strapped to my back with her hilt showing above my right shoulder.
I looked in the mirror to ensure nothing was out of place. Only 3,000 years of age, I still had a lot of growing and learning to do. The unassuming yet striking elf in the mirror stared back at me. Father believed with my dragon heritage I would live far longer than any elf which meant I would have time to learn how to be a proper Guardian, I hoped.
I looked out at the sun slowly creeping up the sky. There was still time for me to walk through the fortress and make it to the ceremony. Though part dragon, there was something to be said about the feel of solid stone under one’s feet, the sound of the earth as it slowly moves across the planes. And the Great Redwood in the center of the fortress was always softly speaking to us all. His words were almost as comforting as Jayrm’s thoughts. And now, a precious few would get to hear her speak their name.
There were twelve young elves this season and only five were chosen. I watched the faces of each as they passed under Jayrm’s branches. Joy, awe and wonder crept over each of the five as a branch barely bent to a shoulder so she could whisper their name to each. They would take over the duties of the previous caretakers for the next 1,000 years. If Jayrm could not find suitable caretakers at that time they would remain until the next cycle, and so on. For the World Tree, Jayrm, could not live without caretakers.
After everyone had gone their respective ways I stayed to speak with Jayrm before going to the Library. I stood beside her and put a hand on her smooth, white trunk. She did not speak in words, rather more in images and emotions; this is how I let her know my concerns about the future. She comforted me in the knowledge the land would not have me as its Guardian if I did not have its interests at heart. As I lowered my hand and left the grove, however, I was still unsure.
I walked the entire length of the fortress to the Library. It gave me time to consider what I would say, ask, my father. I was sure he would be on the third tier where books on other dragon home worlds would be. I asked him once why he was researching them and he would only say, “We may have to leave soon.” I am not sure what he means but it worries me, along with all my other concerns.
I found my father with his molten silver eyes pouring over a large tome. He had cut his black hair short and was wearing some black silk elven garment I had not seen before, but which showed off his muscular body well.
“Ah, daughter. Come,” he waved me over without looking up, “you must see what I’ve found.”
“Is it another home world for dragons?” I sat on the stool next to him and looked at the tome.
“Better than that! It’s a world where dragons and humans live together.” He smiled, looking up, then frowned when he saw my face. “But what’s your concern daughter? There’s much sadness in your eyes.”
“Father, do dragons and humans really live together on that world?”
A small chuckle escaped from him. “Well, they may not actually live together as we sometimes do. But they co-exist, they trade and they understand each other at least a little.”
“That is what I want for our people but mother, the elders, they do not understand we need trade with humans and other races. Why is there so much fear of humans?”
He sighed a bit as he began to stroke my cheek. “My little Guardian. The fear is mostly to protect all of us. Many humans on Earth have forgotten about us or have put us in their fairy tales. If they were to see us it would put them in a panic. Humans often fear what they cannot or will not understand. Thus the elven law of no contact remains.”
I took his hand in mine. “But father, humans are creatures of change; are they not? And it has been eons since that law was made. Do you not think an envoy might be able to change the minds of humans if done correctly?”
He smiled a bit, “Are you set upon this course little Guardian?”
I nodded as he put his other hand over mine. Such large hands, would I ever be as wise as he?
“Then this is what you must do. Never tell anyone what you’re doing, secrecy is key. Before you contact any human, be sure you believe they can be trusted. I know you mean well but not all humans will be kind to you. I suggest contacting someone whose home is outside a village, preferably close to the forest. Once there is trust between you and the humans at the home and hopefully the village, then you may try to sway your mother and the elders once more. Show them the proof of friendship you’ve gained from the humans. But only then.”
I nodded, kissed his hands and brought them to my forehead. For some reason I was unsure if I would ever see him again. Perhaps he felt it too for we stayed that way for a long moment before separating. I stood to leave.
“Daughter. Let the winds and the forest be your guides. And let the wind forever be at your back and the ground always solid beneath your feet.”
I could not help but shed a tear as I left with that feeling this was the last time I was going to see him. Something big was on the horizon and there was no stepping out of its way.