LIKE THE WIND ("AVASHCÍN")
BY RAYNE AVALOTUS



A new darkness is preparing to encompass all of Santharia. Born within the depths of the Hèckra, found within the dwarven caverns, it has finally found the oppurtunity to unleash war and destruction across the land. Farms will burn, towers will crumble, and thousands of innocent souls will fall in bloody battle. The soul with the ability to stop this apocalypse from swallowing Caelereth is that of one young elven girl. Join Rayne in her journey and discover what it means to be true to one's heart...


C
HAPTER I
SEYELLA'S CALL

tories. Reference books. Spell books. Inside handcrafted wooden cases lay dozens of books and stories, many with intricate designs adorning the outside and most with dust along the gold-edged pages. The books always smelled thick and musty with history and lore. Rows of bookcases covered one wall of the study, while across from it lay an old desk, papers scattered across the smooth surface. Paintings of historic men and nameless women hung on the walls. Globes and statues were scattered about the large room. Random chairs and antique tables lay about the messily furnished study. The floor was covered in old rugs in faded reds, oranges, and browns: a never-ending reminder of autumn.

A girl sat on a chair, her legs crossed, with a book on her lab. She stood out from the room like a misplaced object in a picture, for while the room was painted in woody browns, faded reds, and maáh'valannía oranges, her hair glittered silver with a tint of indigo. Her slender arms, which held the book, were creamy, and her eyes were a piercing azure. A loose, white shirt hung on her slender figure with the string that held the pieces of fabric together tied loose and comfortable. She wore dark colored pants, but her dainty feet remained exposed. She brushed back a few strands of her silky hair to expose pointed elven ears, pierced three times, silver ringlets dangling from them.

The doors of the study quietly opened and a boy who seemed to be around the same age as the girl walked in. His hair was a cherry blonde, though one could easily pass him off as being pure blonde. His eyes were a hazel color. As soon as he saw her, a sigh left him. “You’re in here again? Geez! You’d think you’d have already read all of these books...” He walked to where she sat and picked up one of the books from the table she sat near. “I really don’t get what you see in these silly books.”

The girl didn’t look up from her reading. “You wouldn’t understand, Thyron. All you can see is what’s right in front of you.” It was then she looked up. “There is a world past Thaelon, you know. There’s a world past Bolder. There are incredible creatures that you wouldn’t believe.”

“But Rayne, what’s the point in reading and learning about these animals if you’re never going to see them? It’s not like you’re going to see a…” Thyron’s hazel eyes squinted to read the name of the beast, pronouncing it slowly, “…adj noovick here in Thaelon or Bolder. I mean, come on, Rayne.”

“It’s aj’nuvic,” stated the girl as she looked up. There was something like a grin on her soft, pale lips as she continued, “And who says I’m never going to see them?”

Thyron suddenly seemed to become a bit weary. “You got that look in your eyes again.” He then recovered slightly, getting his air about him. “You know you’re too young to go off into Santharia. I mean, there are so many things that could happen to you! You could be captured by orcs and be tortured or you might be burned to death in one of their raids. Or maybe you’ll meet some evil human who’ll cut you up into a thousand pieces! Or maybe... maybe one of those ag-numics will get you.”

“It’s Aj’Nuvic, and they’re extremely peaceful and beautiful creatures. And you don’t think I don’t know the dangers? I could be poisoned by a Black Hart or slaughtered by a Tam-rek.” It was then Rayne slowly got up, coming nearer to Thyron as she continued. Thyron backed away, suddenly fearful. “Perhaps a mhorashty will lure me to my death, or a téi'hái demon will crush my skull and suck out my brains. Maybe a sea dragon will attack me, ripping my body limb from limb until I’m nothing but a bloody mess. Or a mystran could surround me and feast on my soul!”

“STOP! Stop, stop, stop!” Thyron cried out, backing away slightly as he covered his ears with his hands and closed his eyes tight, as if doing so might make the mental pictures Rayne had put in his head suddenly vanish. Rayne grinned, resting one hand on her hip as the other held her book at her side. After a moment he uncovered them, still looking a bit shaken. “You didn’t have to be that detailed.”

Rayne shrugged slightly. “I just wanted to make sure you understood that I know what I’m getting into.” She said as she set her book down on the pile that was beginning to form on the table and began to walk towards the door as Thyron watched her curiously. “Aren’t you coming? Nana’s probably got dinner fixed.” She smiled lightly and Thyron shrugged wearily, following behind.

The wind swept through the blades of grass that covered the hills to the southwest of Thaelon. From the north, they came, and carried a cool scent: the smell of blood and life and danger and love. It carried the scent of everything Rayne wished to see, the dreams that she longed to explore. Thryon and she sat upon the low hill, where it was clear enough to see the stars beginning to appear as the sun fell behind the horizon. They watched it, a comfortable silence between them.

It was a moment before Thyron spoke, his eyes off, staring out at the view. “So you’re really going to go, then, huh?”

Rayne glanced at him a moment before looking out again. She sighed. “There’s something in me I can’t deny anymore. There’s a world out there I want so to see.” A sad look glittered in her soft eyes. “I love it here. I love the trees and the people and the land itself that seems so rich and beautiful. It’s perfect, and all I should ever need. Somehow, though… my heart’s restless here. I want so much more. Seyella’s whispering that there’s something out there for me. Whether that be my own downfall or my ascent to the sky, I don’t know.”

“Rayne,” Thyron said, and the elven girl looked into his hazel eyes. They were strangely sad. “I don’t want you to go.” Rayne looked down and Thyron went on. “You’re the closest thing I’ve ever had to a real sister, and you’re the best friend I’ve ever had.” He reached out and lifted her chin, and her eyes once again met his. Something like a sad smile shown on his face. “I always knew you’d end up leaving, though. You’re like the wind.”

Rayne quickly wrapped her arms around the elven boy’s neck, hugging him, and he hugged her back tightly. “I love you, Thyron,” she said, her eyes beginning to feel with tears. She backed a little, her hands on his shoulders. “When I lost my family, I was so scared.” Her eyes left his. “No one to care, no one to love me, no one to help me through life and I questioned if life was truly worth living without one.” She looked up. “Then I found you.”

“Rayne,” Thyron said, his voice drifting off.

Rayne looked away, her cheeks becoming a soft scarlet color as tears wandered from her eyes. “And sometimes I wonder what I’m doing. Just when it seems I’ve found my own place again I want to leave.” She looked down, her hand within the other. “I wonder what’s wrong with me. How can I even think about leaving everything and everyone I love behind?” Tears fell liberally into her lap.

Thyron lightly brushed away the girl’s tears, drying her cheeks with his sleeve and she looked up to find a kind smile on his lips. “Nothing’s wrong with you. You’re perfect, but you can’t escape your destiny, and your destiny is somewhere out there.” He paused. “Here…” He reached around his neck to pull off a necklace. It was circular in shape and a silvery color. Though small, it was intricately decorated. He put it around the girl’s neck. “To remember me, and to protect you.” She looked at it and Thyron pointed to the rune in the center. “See? The eye of Avá.” Thyron looked to Rayne again and she looked to him. “May she always watch over you.”

“Thyron, I…” She began, but he put a finger to her lips.

“I want you to have it. It was my mother’s,” The cherry blonde-haired boy said, smiling lightly. His mother had died several decades ago, a few years after he was born.

“But… this is a family heirloom,” Rayne objected, started to take it off.

Thryon stopped her. “And you’re my family.” He leaned over and kissed her cheek. Rayne let the pendant drop from her delicate fingers and fall against her chest. It was warm.

A voice called out to the two, originating from a plump elven woman. “Come on, you two! It’s nearly time for bed! Hurry now!” The two stood and walked towards the house, hand in hand.

The night fell over Thaelon and the sky grew to a deep indigo and blue. Hues of day faded away and the moon shone full and pale like an orb. Stars glittered softly in the darkness like immortal guides watching those below. A wind fell through the trees whose leaves whispered to each other a strange and benign lullaby. A large house lay snug just outside the forest and inside, sleep wandered the halls like wistful ghosts. All seemed asleep in their beds, but one lay awake.

A girl with indigo hair sat on her bed, her eyes watching and waiting as the moon lifted higher and higher into the sky. The pale beams spilled in through her window and light danced softly over her face and tangled itself in the soft, silken strands of her hair. Her eyes glittered like wet stones; bright, but with softness that seemed almost sad. Delicate, graceful hands clutched the blankets of her bed. Each breath was taken in so slowly as her mind drifted as memories moved like shadows over the walls in her mind.

Time moved so quickly and yet so slowly she felt she might scream. She wanted to cry and laugh all at once. This was it: her escape, her capture, her redemption and her damnation. This was destiny as the wheel had spun it, as Seyella had called it. Still doubt plagued her senses. There was a pain in her heart that made her feel such sorrow to leave those she cared so dearly for. Her hand touched the pendant on her chest. However, there was a dread that she might live forever here, stuck in this house, stuck in this place. She slid from her bed.

She kneeled and grabbed a bag from under her bed where she had hidden it and set it on top. She rummaged through it, going through a checklist in her head of all she needed. Yes, it was all here. The shadows watched as she changed out of her sleep clothes and into a dark shirt, a gray pair of pants and some comfortable shoes, then as she threw a cloak over her shoulders. A sigh left into the silent night and she grabbed her bag.

The door creaked as she left her room and journeyed down the hall. She felt her heart in her throat, beating so loud she couldn’t hear anything else. Quietly her footsteps met the floor of the kitchen. She felt hot, as though she might faint. The fear of being caught swallowed her senses. Suddenly she felt a touch on her shoulder and nearly screamed, turning but stumbling out of balance. Before she could hit the ground or scream a hand clapped around her mouth and an arm caught her by the waist. She turned quickly and met a pair of hazel eyes: Thyron’s eyes.

There was silence, a silence that shrieked in Rayne’s ears. There was something strange in the face she now looked up into. She had always been more confident somehow, overpowering, and when she did something Thyron would follow. The eyes she looked into now seemed so much stronger and she now found herself overpowered. Slowly his hand left her mouth and he spoke in a whisper. “So you’re going…?”

Rayne’s eyes looked away. The answer was obvious. Thyron smiled. “Then you better hurry before Nana wakes up and catches you.”

Rayne looked into his smiling face and smiled a bit herself. She regained her balance and hugged him tightly. “Thank you.”

“Yeah, yeah. Now hurry! I think I hear Nana waking up!” He pushed her lightly toward the door.

As she opened it, she turned to him. “I promise I’ll come back. I promise.” She vanished out the door into the darkness of the night, heading south.

Thyron looked after her, lightly closing the door behind her, smiling to himself as he took in a sigh. At that moment Nana came in; the robust elven woman had her hands on her hips and glared in a motherly way at Thryon. “Avá have mercy, child, what are you doing out of bed? Do you realize how late it is?”

“I’m sorry, Nana. I was having trouble getting to bed and thought I might get a breath of fresh air.”

“A breath of fresh air? Child, why can’t you be more like Rayne? That girl sleep sound and quiet all through the night whilst you make all this ruckus. Now you get yourself to bed right this instant! Go on, now.”

“Yes, Nana,” Thryon said. The shadows hid his smile as he walked to his room.

Freedom. The moon ran through the night sky, the stars glittered sheen and the world was full of silent music. The trees whispered to each other and the grass on the hills swayed, kissed by the wind. The brilliant moonlight made the grass look like silver reeds dancing in the cool air and lit the world with softness that pales all colors.

Freedom.

Rayne hurried away from the house she had lived in so long and up the hill into the vast night and the ocean of moonlight that embraced her as the wind weaved through her hair and caressed her face. From the forest out toward the River Vandrina, she ran, her cloak pulled back by the wind. As soon as she could hear the water lapping across the bank she made careful to hide herself, for on the bridge that crossed from the Thaelon forest to the Heath of Jernais stood a guard. The fee to cross was not one that Rayne could afford to pay.

She moved close to the bank where the yealm reed grew thick between scattered patches of bloodreed. The little elf crept away from the bridge, moving down the river where her boat lay hidden, rocking softly on the river that looked ebony in the night with a soft silver gleam on it. Quick, delicate hands untied the rope from where it was connected to a large patch of reeds. The boat wasn’t a sturdy one, but rather one she had found years ago and had convinced Eldin, an old injerín magician from town, to help her fix up. She would miss him.

Quietly, Rayne led the boat through the water farther and farther downstream. The farther away she got from the bridge, the better. Should the guard see her, she could be arrested. That was the last thing she needed. When the bridge had fully disappeared in the gloom of the night, she climbed aboard, welcomed by two ores that waited inside. She awkwardly took hold of them and began her way across the river. She had hardly been in a boat, much less rowed across a river in one.

Her mind was numb with fear, but the adventure of it all thrilled her. She had never done anything so dangerous. If only Thyron could see her now; defying the laws of the land and crossing a river she should be paying to go across in a little boat with a pair of ores. She would have laughed if she weren’t so intent on being careful as she crossed. The rush was enough to cause her to not worry about her aching arms and tired body.

The current of the river was taking her farther downstream. For this reason she kept pushing. If she reached the next bridge there was doubt she would be caught. Her goal was the Heath of Jernais where there weren’t as many cities and towns. She could then make her get away. Just thinking about it gave her shivers. Freedom. Destiny.

The weary little elf rowed harder, quicker. She grew more and more tired but she knew she couldn’t stop. Her arms ached but she pushed on, numbness and determination leading her now. The trip across looked like it might take an eternity. Each row of the ores seemed to take her nowhere and yet she couldn’t give up on them. They were all she had to get her across the river. In the light of the moon she could make out the opposite shore. She rowed with even more vigor though it didn’t seem to do her much good; her pace seemed to be exactly the same.

Each breath came, pushed hard from her chest. It felt as though her lungs and heart were all in her throat, which itself was dry. She felt like she might throw-up these organs but kept going. Her vision fell into blurry disarray, so she closed them. The rowing continued, though her arms ached and her heart beat loud in her ears such that all the other noises, the lapping of the water against the sides of the boat, the sounds of the birds, everything, seemed distant and faded.

Her boat reach the shore and the long, pointed elven ears faintly heard the reeds brush against the side of her boat. Rayne breathed hard, grabbing her bag and stumbling on to the shore. She hurried away despite her exhaustion. The brush formed and the alth’ho grass grew thicker the farther she ran. It was open grassland everywhere. A few small shrubs stuck out from the grass but mainly all grasses that grew up past her waist. She slowed and collapsed with exhaustion.

Hidden among the high alth’ho grass, she slept.
 

Story written by Rayne Avalotus View Profile