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