by L P Allen
first attempt at starting a novel, any help appreciated
Night began early under the cover of the trees. The man walked briskly up the small beaten track. The man had lived in the forest all his life. He had been born in the forest. It was where he had played and grown, lived and worked. It was where he had settled down and where he was raising his family. As far as he was concerned the forest was his place in the world, where he was meant to be. Most of all it was where he felt at peace. Tonight he did not feel at peace. There was a strange feel in the air. A watchfulness. A stillness. It was as if the forest itself was holding its breath. The man had never been quite so happy to arrive at his own front door.
Harry felt a sense of relief wash over him as crossed the threshold and bolted the door of his cottage behind him. A small fire was burning low in the hearth illuminating the room with a dim flickering light. An uneasy thought crept into his mind, he quickly walked to the door on the opposite side of the room, opened it slowly and peered in. He could hear the sound of gentle breathing and could make out the vague shape of his son and daughter curled up in his bed. His wife had evidently resigned herself to one of the smaller cots and was sleeping awkwardly with her legs overhanging the end of the cot. She was still in her day dress. He smiled to himself and closed the door.
After a strong brew, a quick bite and a sit by the fire Harry was once again feeling content. He could hear the patter of rain on the windows and the the wind picking up outside. He was especially glad to be at home this evening. The weather was turning and a cold wind was blowing down form the mountains. Muttering his nightly "Thanks," to the gods for granting him such a good life he began to slip into sleep.
Right on the edge of hearing Harry thought he heard a scratching on the door. He sat up instantly. Straining his hearing he listened. He heard more scratching. He sat bolt upright, his heart pounding in his throat. The scratching became more continuous. He was used to the sounds of the forest at night but could not recall ever hearing this before. Harry seized the poker for beside the fire stood up and walked very slowly over the the door. As he approached the scratching stopped. Harry swapped the poker for a hatchet he had by the door and once again stood and listened. Nothing. He unbolted the door and listened again. Nothing. He opened the door and peered out into the darkness. Suddenly, he heard a scream from the bedroom behind him. Harry turned and ran for the bedroom.
"There's a monster!", Harry's daughter was screaming as he dashed into the room, "a monster at the window!"
Harry ran to the window and looked out. He could see only the darkness and droplets of rain against the glass. He breathed a sigh of relief. "Its ok love, there's nothing there, its ok," he said. He locked the window and drew the curtains. He turned to comfort his daughter. As he did he felt his stomach turn and his legs weaken beneath him.
Against the dim flickering light of the fire in the other room he could see the outline of a huge lumbering figure approaching slowly through the doorway. It almost looked like a man but was grotesquely misshapen and malformed. Harry froze, gaping at the figure and then looking at each member of his family in turn. None of them could make a sound. He could see the look of terror in their faces. All he could do was watch in horror as the figure approached. Harry tried to move, tried to shout, tried to fight, tried to tell his family to "run!"
He felt the hatchet slip from his fingers.
The rain and hail swirled in all directions. Clay winced, glaring out into the onslaught. tucking his books under his shirt he hurried out into the maelstrom and made his way across the courtyard. The wind tore at his cloak and the hail bombarded him from every angle. His face and hands stung and throbbed, no matter how much he tried to cover them, the icy attack continued. He'd never seen a storm like this.
The Lecture hall fell silent as Clay entered, red faced, gasping and dripping wet. Educator Casila turned slowly to face him as he wrung out his cloak and pegged it up.
"Nice of you to join us on this glorious morning. Would you care to take a seat, No hurry of course." the Educator remarked is a sarcastically monotone voice.
"Apologies, Educator." said Clay, rushing to the nearest vacant seat.
Slowly, the Educator re-opened the book he was holding.
"Now we are all settled," He glanced at Clay
"Let us Continue.
As you are all no doubt aware from our previous lessons. Throughout history as we know it, and until very recently, it has been commonly believed that all species belonged to their own genetic and spiritual family. That is to say that all species are the same now as they have been since the dawn of time. That all species are the way they are by design and are not related. For example; since creation, a dwarf has been a dwarf, an elf an elf and a man a man.
We of course in this age of enlightenment know this now to be untrue, not to mention utterly preposterous. It is now widely accepted that the old theory of selection by environment was very close to being true. All species are ever changing, where allowed, to adapt better to their environment. This has been near proven by many selective breeding endeavours. Look at the difference between a Fort Hound and and a Ratihoua. If one traces both of their lineage's back not even very far then you will find both share common ancestry even though both breeds share very few similarities.
It has long been believed that us humans and dwarves are closely related. This is why, it is thought, they make such a natural ally to us. Newer evidence is constantly being uncovered. scholars and researchers are making new links all the time and now believe that if we were to trace back our own heritage we would be surprised. Although tenuous there is now compelling evidence to show we may even be related not only to our dwarf cousins but to the likes of Elves and the Merpeople.
If we are indeed related to these peoples, then its not too far a leap to consider older relations, perhaps to Orcs or giants, trolls or Gnomes.
So, could it be that we do all share a common ancestor? Could it be that in ages past while our own ancestors chose to live in the light their brothers chose to walk in the dark. While we chose the open sky and grassy fields ours cousins chose the rocky heights and the deep caves?
This is a subject that remains controversial. After all, huge parts of our history and our traditions are rooted deeply in glorifying our differences from all other species and races. We think ourselves superior, and as we now dominate the known world we have proven this to be the case. But one must ask, do you spurn and mistreat a cousin purely because you know you are superior?"
Leif felt sick. He watched with disgust as the creatures loped out of the cottage. That wasn't a kind fate for anyone, to end your days in the belly of a troll. He remembered the stories he had been told as a sapling. Stories that used to keep him in safely in his tree at night. Stories about how a troll could eat your whole. About how you could stay concious in the belly of a troll hours or even days while its stomach acids slowly ate away at you. He didn't believe it any more, it sounded more like a human's exaggerated tale than a truth, but he didn't really want to find know either way.
"Its seems wrong, just a Herbalist and his family.," Leif grimaced
"It is the way of things," Said the elf next to him
"They were children. Innocent." said Leif
"They were Human. None of them are innocent." replied the elf
Leif looked at his companion. He was was taller than Leif by a clear 2 foot and his skin was a much darker green. Leif had never met a non reservation elf before meeting Thorn. There were very few of the old or wild tribes left. And Leif had always believed them only stories or legends now, yet here he was, talking to an Tribal senior.
Leif himself had been raised on a reservation. There were several elf reservations scattered throughout the Provinces. Leif had been lucky though, he had come from a natural province, a large area of woodland barely touched by humanity, primarily due to a lack of valuable resources. Elves put value on trees and streams over gold and minerals. The reservation had also bordered the great wild woods of the alpine regions of the north west so was rarely disturbed. There were stories of those not so lucky. Elves forces to live in open lands under the scorching sun. In harsh sandy deserts or crammed into sprawling tented camps.
Leif looked a his companion. A few weeks ago he would he wouldn't have believed this possible, to be speaking to an Elf of the old blood. A natural. But compared to what he had seen recently that was nothing.