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 III
INTO GOLTHERLON

he strange mists of morning filled the cool air and faded everything. Silence floated over the soft waves in the lake and weaved through the reeds that grew up around the bank. Neither the sun nor the sky was visible. The clouds seemed to have descended from their heaven to rest upon the lake and shore. Still, it seemed light and as Rayne opened her eyes she found the scene before her not at all similar to the one she had fallenl asleep to. Something mystical hung here among the fog and the shadows.

Rayne pulled her cloak around her, the cool mists making her cling to the warmth that had sown itself to the soft fabric. The morning greeted her in a fresh yet stagnant air, crisp even without the wind that would have blown the low clouds up to their mountaintop homes. She glanced around with tired eyes and a mind as foggy as the scene in which she now sat. Her horse stood near, asleep, though its ears continued to twitch as if from spasms.

Then a stirring shadow caught her eyes as she looked to the west, along the back. The blurry shadow of something seemed to be wandering toward her, moving quietly along the lakeshore like some lost ghost. Perhaps she should have been frightened, but her curiosity and unclear mind kept her in place. The shadow wasn’t at all very large and the mists seemed to part for it’s coming as though it were a member of royalty. As it came closer, the colors of its figure become brighter, and its features became more pronounced.

It was a cat of some sort, distinguished by its short figure and feline ears. Its head was spotted, with markings that seemed to be symmetrical on its face. Its neck and head were elongated, making it seem strangely elegant and dignified, despite its size, for it was rather small, perhaps only about five palmspans at the shoulder. Its ears were black at the tips as though each had been dipped in kraken ink, and its eyes were korwyn gold, brilliant, and mysterious. It seemed somehow awkward to her, as though its feet were not made for the ground. It was then that her eyes widened a bit, for what stood before her was a herín! But why would a herín, an acrobatic cat of the trees, be so far away from its home?

It sat down about a ped away from her, surrounded in the morning mist that made it stand out against the gray, watching her for a long moment, as though it were waiting. Rayne looked at it, excited and yet bewildered by its presence. It then turned around and started back the way it came, the folds of mist falling in translucent layers behind it. It kept glancing back at her, it’s crystalline eyes glittering like strange stars, as though it expected her to follow. Rayne frantically got dressed in clothes now wrinkled and in need of washing. She grabbed her things and onto the reigns of her horse, which seemed a big surprised to be suddenly jolted out of a pleasant sleep. Once aware of what was taking place, though, the horse acquiesced to the tugging of the small elven girl.

The mist itself was still thick and while she and the weary horse followed the feline there were times she feared that she had lost it, but somehow it always found her again. She tried to make a habit of keeping an eye on its long tail, and as she journeyed she wondered where they were going, and more so if the herín knew. By the way it walked, though, despite its awkwardness, it seemed sure of its destination, and the comforting words of Tybalt had not wondered far from her mind. Through the mists she would sometimes grow apprehensive, thinking she may have seen the shadow of some hideous demon playing in the mist. When such happened she would cling tightly to the necklace around her neck, and hurry to catch up with her guide.

As time passed, Rayne found it was more calming just to keep an eye on the tail of the cat in front of her, to not look up when she thought she saw a shadow, and to let her mind wander through the events of the past, through the issues plaguing her consciousness. Last night’s dream weighed down upon her heavily and made her wonder and question. There were so many things she didn’t understand. Who was this human and what was the significance of this crystal? She shuddered remembering the gory scene she had witnessed in her dreams. Could such tragedy fall upon Santharia? And those words written in light, standing out against the blackness:

Darkness glows in crimson; evil melts in its own fires.
Born in the dwarven caverns, carried to the Ximax spires,
The crystal desires destruction of every living being
Unknown are the vindictive beasts that it will surely bring
Thee alone doth carry the strength and seed to its fall
Thou must heed thy heart and heed thy destiny’s call

As the words ran through her mind there was a sense of warmth deep inside her, within her chest. Inside she felt calm, no longer afraid of those shadows. Somehow she felt protected, and yet still there was a part of her that was wondering. Ever since she had had that dream, she worried. Was Thyron all right? She began to feel a longing to see that face of his, to tease him the way she used to. She began to miss those dusty old books and Nana’s nagging. What she would have given to see that house she had spent so many good years in!

Rayne sighed to herself, her eyes following the long, spotted tail that dragged on. She had been so happy to leave her home in the Thaelon forest. She recalled the way she smiled under the moon as she ran from that house the way a bird might fly from a cage. Under a starry night she traveled farther and farther from what was familiar. It was now that she realized she hadn’t told Thyron goodbye. In the rush she had forgotten, and now she so wished she had. For a moment she began to regret that she had come on this journey, that she had ever left home.

Why had she come on this trip in the first place?

Her heart ached. Something more. She had always wanted something more than what was contained in that little village. She needed something more powerful, more potent against her uncertain heart. She longed for adventure, for sights yet unseen, and to experience the myth and lore of the stories she had read breath life, spread their wings, and sour unto the clouds. Danger, adventure, legend… she wanted all of them and even now as she walked through this strange, mystic place she had to admit that she still desired such things.

The mist began to rise now, like spirits escaping to the heavens. Beams of sunlight struck the earth through the mists, filtering through it. A few rays caught the silver in her hair and clung to it. Despite the trip so far, her hair wasn’t in too many tangles and was still silky and soft. Her eyes seemed to shine with a light that came from within: azure stars glistening kind and mysterious with secrets still unknown to she who possessed them.

As the mists rose she began to see where they were going. A ways away the outline of trees began to stand out, their forms still and calm. Their leaves ruffled softly, soothing, as though stirring from a restful slumber. To her left the sunlight shimmered over a lake, the waters strangely still. Insects flew on shiny, clear wings, zipping over the surface, every once in a while breaking the stillness by dipping their tails into the water to cause ripples. It was all so peaceful, and it felt as though she may have been the last person on the face of Santharia.

But mid-day the mist was gone. From the early morning when the herín had woken her to now, she had been following the cat without even a break. A feeling of emptiness in her stomach reminded her of how hungry she was. A sigh left her. She couldn’t very well tell the herín to please stop so she could sit and eat. Instead her hand fished through her bag and pulled out the bag of doch nuts. While she walked she ate, giving her horse a handful of nuts every once and a while, which he happily nibbled up. He still seemed to walk without really seeing, dazed or else half asleep. It struck her as strange that even through all the noise she and her horse were making, the cat never turned around or glanced back.

The day carried on without a stop or stall and Rayne became more and more wary with each step. The souls of her feet began to ache. She found herself stumbling more often over rocks and branches, much to the displeasure of her horse that was oft suddenly jolted forward. She tried to keep her eyes either focused on the forest or the cat that walked in front of her, silent as a ghost. By the time sunset came she had reached the first tree of the forest. It was here that she found she could walk no farther, and to her relief the herín seemed to find it a nice place to rest as well.

Rayne stopped and the horse, not really looking at the path ahead of it, lightly ran into her from behind. Rayne looked back disgruntled at the horse, which now seemed to have an expression of sheepish embarrassment on its face. Sighing, Rayne tied the horse to the tree before she herself collapsed at the base of it. She lifted her head and looked outwards. The sun set behind her but the colors leaked through the sky so that she could see them vivid and bright above her and on the edges of the horizon. Night seemed to fly in from the east with wings of midnight adorned with shimmering jewels. She sighed softly, her eyes weary from travel.

The herín jumped into a nearby tree and both it, the horse, and the young girl sitting under it rested, slept with the cool night breeze on their faces.

The morning came quietly, and seemed to take Rayne by surprise. She yawned, slowly opening her eyes. The morning had come so quiet that now it began to pass her by. The mists of the lake were already gone, vanished like transparent ghosts finally ascending to the sky. The glint on the lake itself made the whole scene seem serene and she watched a moment as a breeze swayed the reeds that grew along the bank and the hair that fell in soft waves against Rayne’s cheeks.

She blinked and quickly looked up into the tree she had fallen asleep against to find the herín still there, watching her lazily. She sighed in relief, glad that one, the cat was not some evil creature that would attempt to swallow her whole and two, that it was indeed still there, unlike the starbacks before that had left her suddenly one day when night had become morning. It seemed that this feline still had more land to cross as her guide.

She stood slowly, finding her bones ached from travel, and stretched. The herín sat up in the trees and as the subtle movement of branches caught her attention; her cerulean eyes looked to the cat. Rayne could see why it liked high places. On ground it was short and had to lift its head to look at most anything. In the trees it could look down at others. She found its gaze to be, while intense, protective. She leaned down and picked up her bag, then went to untie her horse from the tree. When the rope was undone, the herín leapt from the tree he had been sitting on to one deeper in the wood.

“Hey! Wait!” Rayne cried out, hurrying into the forest, pulling the horse along. She dodged the trees as she ran after the cat, who elegantly leapt from tree to tree, its long tail moving up and down and helping to sustain its balance as it traveled through the wood. “Where are you going?”

As Rayne moved further into the Goltherlon Forest she found the trees grew denser and the bushes grew higher and more vicious. She made sure to be careful for low hanging branches and twigs. As they came she tried to duck them or use her arms to brush them away. However, the brush proved to be not so easily to avoid and cut red scratches in her skin as she passed. Rayne winced, but could not spare a moment to stop or the herín might get away. She ran in front of her horse so that it would not suffer injuries from leading.

With the wounds of learning on her arms, she became more wary of the twigs and found ways to get around them. The feet became more able to dodge the roots of trees that had broken through the ground, and her horse followed her steps. Her eyes kept watching after the herín, trying to see where it had gone while her horse tried desperately to follow his owner. Whenever she felt she had lost it, it appeared again as a tawny and black ghost leaping from branch to branch, over the brush and vines that hung like traps in her path.

The canopy of trees became so thick that only a few faithful rays of sun made it through the roof of leaves and on to the forest floor. However, even these puddles of light on the ground danced from place to place and the wind rushed above the trees. Her eyes became used to the subtle darkness in the forest, and she was ever watchful for the tree cat. Rayne ran, her horse trotting behind her, dodged the branches and twigs that lay in their path, wary of the vines that hung like giant snakes.

Rayne seemed too busy dodging and jumping and avoiding the obstacles of the forest that she hardly noticed she was becoming tired. However, as the noonday sun fell through the small openings in the canopy, she found she could run no longer. Chest heaving, body weary, she collapsed at the base of a tree. Her lungs were on fire and her heart beat so quickly that she could hear it and feel it within her. Her horse seemed thankful for the rest, but Rayne was in desperate need of it. She closed her eyes a moment and when she opened them again and gasped in surprise to see the cloudy-spotted cat in front of her. She sighed in relief when she found it was only the herín.

“Oh. It’s you,” she said, smiling slightly, talking to the herín as though it knew exactly what she was saying. “I thought I lost you there. I can’t leap from tree to tree like you do, and its a lot more dangerous here on the ground than it is in the trees. See?” She showed the cat the scratches on her arms. “It’s a good thing I brought bandages, you know.” She took off her backpack and pulled out a long piece of gauss and began wrapping it around her arms. “I don’t have any ointment or anything.” She finished wrapping her arms. “Maybe I’ll run across some healing herbs soon.” She smiled to the herín as she recovered her breath.

The herín suddenly leapt into the tree she was sitting against and from there, began on again. Rayne sighed. “Here we go again,” and she and her horse began after the cat. As the day progressed she found that she became better at dodging the twigs and such that could break her skin and that she became faster. Her stallion followed behind her, easily leaping over branches too difficult to walk over and keeping an eye on the ground in front of him. It was like a game of wits and both she and her horse had to move as quickly as possible without getting too beat-up. She did not weary of it. The scenery was always changing and new obstacles always came her way. Rayne became less hungry and more eager to catch up to the cat. She would show the herín she could be just as fast as he was.

Well, maybe not.

As the late afternoon sun took his place in the sky Rayne was now at a slow jog and her horse switched periodically between a fast walk and a slow trot. Rayne had, by this time, returned to the bag of doch nuts she an the horse had been eating before, leaving a trail of shells behind them. They weren’t much, but they filled her stomach and gave her something to do on the trip. The cat, too, seemed to grow tired, padding along the branches. It had been a fairly eventful day, but they had gained a lot more ground than the previous.

When the night fell, the herín stopped in the tree it just happened to be in, curled up, and closed its eyes. Rayne looked up at it for a moment. She figured if the herín thought this was the place to sleep then she couldn’t argue. She leaned against a tree adjacent from it and fell asleep.

“Grem wer wan?” said a boy’s voice in a whisper.

“Salfornin,” said an older boy’s voice in response. “grem it hirmenet, Gale.”

“Yik! Brogur wer surmignin! orfig wer uget!” replied another voice.

“Eh, firigi ing ifelim ar imir ing brogur wer edinik."

“Grem wer hirmor! Grem wer hirmor!”

Rayne’s eyes opened and she heard the sound of feet scurrying back. Her indigo eyes opened first to the soft light of mid-day coming down in scant proportions through the thick canopy. The girl sat up and there was a gasp from the voices around her, and they seemed to all jump back. She looked around, her eyes focusing on three small figures watching her. They were short, extremely short, and stared at her in horror and wonder, in awe and amazement. She blinked in utter confusion, her eyes traveling from one to another.

One of the boys had black hair, short and neat. His eyes were dark and beady, small, it seemed, and he had an overbearing presence that made it clear he was the leader of the group. Another had dark brown hair and eyes of ebony color as well, though a bit larger, and he had a distinct child-like quality, which made her guess he was younger than the other two. The last had dark red hair and his eyes were a dark hazel, and he was about the same age as the black-haired boy. They were dressed plainly and held homemade spears: those of crooked stick handles and rocks tied at the tips with twine.

There was only silence for a moment before Rayne stood to dust off her clothing and untangle her hair. The black-haired boy leapt forward, his crude spear pointed at her. “Shimetnin!” Rayne stared at him in slight confusion, and though she doubted the spear’s danger, she decided it best to not provoke him, and did not move. She stood there looking down at him, almost curious of these little creatures. The boy, meanwhile, seemed lost, as if he didn’t know what to do from here. Hesitantly he said, “Hmmm... Kajin ing durget.” He motioned to her bag. “Gronel! Gronel.” Rayne picked up her bags and as she did, the red-haired boy hesitantly moved forward to where his friend stood.

“Miles, Orfig wer krogri wem meein imir ing yelfor,” whispered the boy. “Mernmer, Grem gin gentin Korum ing Salfornin. Grem wer digin bergok or bik wan? Den korumka negikgar or bik? Gremil wer grem wem ikotin adapt ing nikrika nin!” As he spoke, the dark brown-haired boy crept closer, holding his spear to his chest timidly. He watched her in awe, but didn’t say anything. As he came closer, he seemed menacing.

“Gilmer, this is our forest! We must protect it. We need to bring the intruder to the others. Bring it to Grumhill. He’ll know what to do with this thing, maybe, but we can’t just leave it here. It might destroy something!” Rayne listened, though she could not understand, for they spoke in a language that she had not learned.

While the two boys discussed what to do with her, Rayne saw that the little dark-haired boy came closer. Rayne smiled kindly at him and he smiled back shyly. “Daín artánhé,she spoke softly, yet with a lucid fluidity that echoed her gentle nature. The boy responded with “Himig,” but wasn’t allowed to say another word before the black-haired gnome pulled him back.

After giving his younger friend a glare, he turned back to his friend. “Wan ing Ugim?”

The red-head shifted nervously, thinking a moment, eyeing the elf. “Dengar wer sogri grem da adat ing salfig rif” he offered nervously.

His friend nodded with the confidence lacking in his friend. “Gitan, Dengar da huik ing giribo.” The other two gnomes nodded, and the boy with black hair began his way into the tangles of the forest. He gestured to the elf and others to follow, and the four of them journeyed into the shadows of the forest.

“Grem wer wan?” What is it?

“Salfornin. Grem it hirmenet, Gale.” I don’t know. Wake it up, Gale.

“Yik! Brogur wer surmignin! orfig wer uget!” No! I’m not touching it! You do it!

“Eh, firigi ing ifelim ar imir ing brogur wer edinik.It was my idea to follow the (doch nut) shells.

“Grem wer hirmor! Grem wer hirmor!” It’s waking! It’s waking!

“Shimetnin!” Don’t Move!

“Hmmm... Kajin ing durget.” Hmmm… Pick up your bag.

“Gronel! Gronel.” Slowly! Slowly.

“Orfig wer krogri wem meein imir ing yelfor.Are you sure this is a good idea?

“Mernmer, Grem gin gentin Korum ing Salfornin.” Afterall, (you) don’t know how powerful it is.

“Grem wer digin bergok or bik wan? Den korumka negikgar or bik? Gremil wer grem wem ikotin adat ing nikrika nin!” What if it’s actually a demon? Or a powerful wizard? You don’t want to make it angry!

"Wan ing uglim?" What do we do?

"Dengar wer sogri grem da adat ing salfig rif." Dengar would probably know about that thing.

"Gitan, Dengar da huik ing giribo." Then let’s go to Dengar’s house.
 

Story written by Rayne Avalotus View Profile