CHAPTER XIII: IN THE LIGHT OF DAY

A SANTHARIAN NOVEL

 
Darkling Abroad   
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Introduction. Viresse's encounter with the trio of drow made her only more curious. And as she habitates with them, more questions arise - not of herself, but of the others around her.

 

iresse grumbled as she awoke. She felt a bit beat, obviously she must have drank too much wine last night. She looked up and remembered where she was - laid out in Sifl's front room. Upon the altars the candles still were burning, though it was useless in the mid-day light.

Mid-day.

Viresse sighed and cursed herself for falling into the human regimen of sleeping in the night and living during the day. She rolled over and pulled the covers over her head, but it was no use. She was awake.

She flung the covers to one side and decided to take a walk, hoping it would tire her out, or at leased cause her mind to wander and give her the urge to write. That way the hours she spent awake wouldn't be a complete waste.

She stepped outside and turned to go toward the clearing. The forest was very quiet, but still a bit dark considering the thick canopy and heavy foilage that made the Paelelon so dense. It was almost calming. The forest rustled with animal life, but when she turned to look at it, she never actually saw it. Which was odd - in most elven forests the animal life was abundant. But here it seemed almost scared to reveal itself. Which made sense to her, every person who lived in this forest was a hunter. But there must be a lot of animals, for considering the rate of hunting, the procreation rate must be amazing, just to cut even every year.
 

Viresse peered in windows as she walked by - pale dark elves tucked away in their cozy homes on the forest floor, the darkness inside like a shroud of sleeping magic that made them seem almost entombed within their homes. It made Viresse feel comfortable, but eerie. As if she was the only one awake in the entire, massive forest.

She reached the clearing, and looked around. The fires still smoldered, but were no longer burning. The area was cleaned and well-kept, as if gnomes came out in the wee hours and groomed the area as the dark elves slept. She smiled to herself. It was very comfortable and cozy, she liked this quiet sense of woodsy cleanliness. She wandered out toward the center of the clearing, and then spotted a felled tree she could sit on towards one edge of the clearing. She walked toward it and sat down, leaning back a little to catch a patch of sunlight that filtered through the trees. She basked in it a couple of seconds, then quickly sat up. Too long had she been with humans. She was beginning to enjoy the sunlight, pulled her knees to her chest and sighed.

Viresse sat for a while, fumbling with the hem of her sleeve, and pondered her situation. It wasn't hard to be in the Paelelon. But it would be difficult to adjust from the way she had lived so far to this new way of existing - which was more familiar to her than her previous living arrangements. But - as she had told herself when she wrestled with her thoughts earlier - in order to be more receptive to the world around her, she had to be willing to bend and flow like a branch in a strong wind. If she was too steadfast then surely the wind would break her, and at the moment in this world and this time, that would be a terrible setback in her life and efforts.

She heard a rustle to one side and absently glanced up, expecting like before to only see the branches move where an animal once was. But to her shock, a dark elf was there. He was a bit threatening at first, then she recognized who it was. Terquan was oblivious to her presence as he split the foilage and entered the clearing. He was off the beaten trail, and seemed to be returning from something, she said noting to avoid disturbing him.

But as he walked through the clearing, he slowly began to walk slower, and finally stopped. He looked around - and Viresse realized that she was watching him - and he was acting as any watched animal did, treading with caution and observing his environment, no matter how familiar. Viresse quickly dropped her eyes and became uniquely fascinated with the hem of her cloak.

Terquan finally turned and spotted her, and began to walk in her direction. Viresse looked up, and offered a small, friendly smile. Terquan didn't entirely smile back, though his face seemed to lighten. She wondered what he was thinking as he approached her - what kind of dark elf was this? She smirked to herself as she thought up the answer - not like one you've ever met...

He bowed his head for a second. "Cór'jeín ártanhé," he said, then smirked at his phrase. It was the middle of the day. It didn't work, but Viresse nodded understandingly. "What are you doing up so late? I would have guessed you were tired," he said. He came off as merely inquisitive, but she was slightly threatened, simply because he was in his own world and she was not.

"I couldn't sleep," she stated simply, and slipped a bit off her hair behind her ear. "I have also had to function in the human world for a number of years - I've fallen out of habit." She granted him a smirk. "What about you?"

He shrugged. "I kind of like the day forest. You can see things you don't normally see." He looked to his feet shyly, then looked up at Viresse. " I know that's not a good thing around here, but... sometimes things can't be helped."

The way he spoke sounded as if he didn't want to be questioned about it, so she nodded slowly. But now she found she really had nothing to say. She let her legs slip off of the felled tree and set them on the ground, then looked up at Terquan.

"Do you like the Paelelon?" he asked, attempting to change the subject and keep a conversation rolling. She wondered what he was up to - building an alibi? Keeping her from asking what he did during the day? She smirked, wondering how big he thought his blunder was, and how big it actually was compared to others.

"It's nice. I've been missing my own home for some time, and this is the closest I can get to it. Mind you - I don't entirely miss the people." She sighed and looked up at him- he wore a puzzled look.

"You miss home, but not your tribe? Isn't that kind of... weird?" He asked. He took a few steps to stand closer to her, then took a seat next to her.

"It depends. I can see how you can miss your people if you left. You have a beautiful tribe dynamic that allows for relationships. In my tribe the only dynamic is a power struggle, even family members will fight against each other for power - my own father was killed by my mother's brother. So... I don't miss having my life threatened every second that I exist. But I do miss being comfortable among that dynamic... becuase that is my home."

Terquan nodded slowly. "I wouldn't miss it either. I mean... being on your toes every day like that."

"But aren't you on your toes every day? I mean - hunting is the way of the world around here. Every moment you're chasing something down-" Viresse was cut off by a quick-to-correct Terquan.

"Not every moment. Some of us see it that way. Tristen, for one. But I don't. I have other things to do that entertain me." He nodded slowly again, then glanced over at Viresse. "I knid of envy your tribe - you got to leave and do whatever you wanted without people jumping on you to do what's right..."

Viresse put up a hand. "Wait. You think I was able to just get up and leave?" She shook her head. "I am the lowest ranked elf in my family. I was bested by elves at least fifty years younger than me. I'm an embarassment to my family."

"You're over a hundred?" Terquan asked, an astonished look on his face. "You don't look a day over ninety."

"I'm around two hundred, as of... oh, maybe spring. I don't recall the date." She told him, then looekd at the ground. His last words were flattering, even for a naive young elf.

"Really? How long have you been in Santharia?" he asked.

"Hm. about fifty years..." She nodded. "That sounds right. So - for the first one hundred and fifty years of my life, I was trying to leave. But - now I feel as if I'll spend the rest of my life trying to find my home, because I don't fit in Sevari anymore. Too off in my own world."

Terquan nodded, as if he understood. "Maybe when I'm a hundred and fifty, I can get out and do what I want to do." He sighed.

"Why can't you do that now?" she asked.

Terquan only looked at her out of the corner of his eye. As if he had somethign snarky to say and decided not to say it. He stood up. "Well, Viresse. It was nice chatting with you, but I've been up most of this time and need to get some sleep. If you're around a bit longer, maybe we'll talk again."

Viresse furrowed her brows, slightly insulted but alltogether respectful. She felt just a bit like she was back in Sevari, having to watch her back. "I'll be around a while."

Terquan nodded, and walked off across the clearing and into the brush, still avoiding paths.

Viresse sat on the long for a while. What an odd one. He was like the men at home - hiding things and being sneaky, and ruthless. She shook her head. That meant there was something up. And she didn't like that at all. She decided that she would avoid him as he seemed to have too much going on behind those black eyes. What exactly, she didn't know - but it was too familiar a look to just let it slip by.

When she finally decided to get up and return to sleep, the sun had shifted the beams considerably. They now beat down far from directly above. She noticed that some people inside their homes began to stir, but not so much as to identify a waking hour anytime soon. She slipped back into Sifl's quarters, and planned to quietly go back to sleep, but Sifl was awake and he sat upon the cushions across from his altar. He burned a small plant in a shallow plate before the deer skull, a sweet cloud lifting through the chambers and filling the whole of the place with a pleasant smelling fragrance.

"Adjusting?" Sifl said, and looked slowly over at her. Sifl still seemed very tired, but there must be some reason it was awake. "I hate to be a busybody, but please - be careful. People don't know or understand you yet."

Viresse took a seat beside Sifl. "Terquan was awake," she stated, hoping that that notion would aleave Sifl's notion of her danger.

"Viresse - Terquan is not entirely normal among us. If you conversed with him, I'm sure you picked that up." Sifl looked seriously at Viresse. "He worries many of us due to his allegiances."

"He reminds me of some of the men from my tribe. Which isn't good." She noted. "But what do you mean by allegiances?"

Sifl nodded slowly. "He has made choices that while are not entirely frowned upon by us, they are choices that are not understood by many. They have altered him in great ways - and will continue to do so. He is becoming strained by his choices, if you knew him over a span of time, you could easily see it. Eventually Terquan will not be able to cope with the strain, and he will break. And I pray to all who keep us safe in our venues of choice, that no one has to see Terquan break, because it will shatter everything we know of him - because he will no longer be himself."

Viresse furrowed her brows. Sifl spoke oddly - she had only vaguely heard that manner of speaking before, about those in the higher ranks of Coór'hém. She looekd seriously at Sifl.

"Are you speaking of-" She searched to find the word she was looking for. "Demonology?"

"In the worst way," Sifl answered. "He has chosen to match himself with one. And eventually it will take over his mind and soul - and the Terquan we know will be no more." Sifl sighed. "I did not know of his decision until it was too late - in my teachings he had only heard of it, mentioned and searched out others to teach him, that is where he goes during the day... And he often hunts alone to hone his skills and appease the Beast." Sifl paused, and swallowed.

"He speaks of leaving the Paelelon," she said.

"Better for all of us then," Sifl added.
 


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