The Chronicles of Starlyn

For generations it has been known that elves are immortal except for death by battle or poison. Something strange happens and Starlyn's mother becomes sick with an illness that seems to only be getting worse with each passing day. Starlyn loves her mother and wishes to find any way to help her, yet it seems nothing can be done except to sit and watch. It breaks her spirit but she spends every moment she can with her mother, as she fights frantically for an unknown cure. She went to the elven healers and herbalists but even they cannot find a way. Meanwhile Starlyn's sister Arria takes more drastic measures to try and help their mother, even diving into the restricted books of the elven library about dark magic. The dark magic is dangerous and forbidden for elves to use because it is said that even the willpower of an elf cannot prevail with the touch of a dark taint. Arria is not concerned of her own welfare and dives into heavy studies with the books. Strange things begin to happen, a

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6. Chapter 5

Chapter 5:

By Craig A. Price Jr.

                The trail into the northern forest was easy to follow. The creatures left a very distinct mess as they traveled. There appeared to be scattered footprints everywhere without a sense of order. The creatures seemed to not care or worry about anybody following them. With their numbers it wouldn’t seem they had a reason to hide themselves.

                There was still no trace of Arria, but that was to be expected if she was free. It seemed unlikely that they held her prisoner without any caravan trucks or drag marks. There didn’t even appear to be any prints from her. Either they were following the wrong host or she was being careful. The problem was if she was careful it was likely she was not a prisoner of any sort. There was a possibility that these creatures were careful with their prisoners, but it didn’t make sense when they were reckless in every other way. It would also be prudent of her to leave behind clues if she were a prisoner.

                Starlyn began to give up hope that her sister was innocent. She noticed the expression on Vil’ek’s face seem to mirror her own. He knew it too, but like her, he would not give up.

                When they took a break in the woods Starlyn sat on a fallen stump and stared at the sky. As she was wondering how her mother was doing she noticed a chill breeze, followed by the hoot of an owl. Looking up she noticed a lone black owl casting a shadow in front of her moon. She recognized it as it neared by Aliuqa’s friend.

                Starlyn smiled for news from her friend. She knew her mother wouldn’t be doing any better, but it would feel good just to know. The letter was in a black envelope with black wax in the shape of a raven to seal it. It seemed Aliuqa wanted to keep the message secret from wandering eyes in the dark.

                When she opened it she was astonished to find that the paper was black as well with white ink. The writing itself was fine craftsmanship and short. She read it aloud in a whisper that only she could hear.

“Mother’s health decreased.

Vomits once a day now.

Cramps and fever to name a few.

Find Arria soon.

Afraid there’s not much time.

It feels like something dark approaches.

Be on guard.”

                Starlyn trembled as she finished reading it before dropping the letter to the ground. Tears began to fill her eyes – making her vision blurry. Her mother was weak before, without enough energy to move from her bed anymore. Yet, now there was true sickness coming out. An elf vomiting was unheard of, not even poison would do such a thing. It seemed unnatural. She was sure that if any other elf found out of her mother’s condition they wouldn’t want her alive. Infection to the race was one of the elves biggest fears. Starlyn knew better than that. Her mother was sick, it was not a contagious infection.

                It made sense why Aliuqa sent a black owl with black wax and envelope. She was well aware of what the other elves would do if they found out. Starlyn knew that Aliuqa would never do such a thing. In a strange way Starlyn knew she could trust Aliuqa even though she hadn’t spent a lot of time with her. She was comforted in that thought but wondered if she should return home in case the worst happened.

                She burned the paper so there wouldn’t be any evidence. She pulled her own parchment out with ink and quill to write a simple phrase.

                “Do I need to return?”

                Starlyn kissed her palm and placed it on the owl’s forehead. She silently wished for health, haste, and protection before sending the owl off. The owl seemed to nod towards her before flapping its wings and soaring off into the night sky.

                She stood there alone for a few silent moments as the rest traveled ahead. Moonlight underneath her was silent but seemed to comfort her. Starlyn gently stroked the neck of her friend as she sat there collecting her thoughts. She wanted to go back and be with her mother, to comfort her. More than anything she wished she could understand what was happening with her. She was torn between wanting to explore for some cure to her mother and trying to find her sister. The problem was she had no idea what could save her mother short of the black magic Arria had resorted to.

                Black magic was the wrong way, of that Starlyn was sure. She wished there was a pure magic of light rather than one of dark. If there was only a good kind of magic that could heal her without a sacrifice. It seemed as if there should be. When she read the scrolls of black magic it appeared like everything had to have a balance. She wondered if that meant that with the darkness of the magic there would have to be a lighter magic in able to balance the dark magic.

                Where would she be able to find a source of light magic, if it was even true? It had to be true; she wouldn’t allow it any other way. There had to be something she could do to save her mother, but would she be able to save her sister as well? Everything has to have a balance, yes she would find a way.

                She continued ahead and joined with the rest of the party. Vil’ek signaled the small party of elves to settle down and be quiet. He went on ahead with Starlyn by his side as she just caught up in time.

                “What is it?” She whispered.

                “I heard something, I think they are near.”

                “How many?”

                “Let’s find out.”

                When they peered through the forest they found a small camp of hideous creatures. They were black in skin and scales with spots of various colors under their bellies. Each stood on hind legs with long arms and claws. Long snouts extended from their face appearing similar to that of a lizard. A long tail draped behind their backs and flinched often at the tip.

                “What are they?” She asked.

                “They cannot be.”

                “What?”

                “They look like dragons, from the history scrolls. Except these don’t have tales.”

                “Dragons? The immortal creatures that nearly wiped out our entire race?”

                “Yes… it cannot be.”

                “We must stop them.”

                “There are fourteen.”

                “We have eighteen, they cannot be as skilled as our warriors. Look, they don’t even have weapons.”

                “Dragons don’t need weapons when they spit fire.”

                “Fire?”

                “Yes, they are extremely powerful, we only survived by killing their offspring, their eggs. Or so the history tells, it was generations ago.”

                “We have to try, or else how will we know their strength. Perhaps they’re still weak and rebuilding.”

                “We will have to be swift and silent.”

Now Starlyn was unsure as to whether violence was the right option. She didn’t know these creatures, and neither did Vil’ek. Perhaps there could be diplomacy and order. Maybe they were savage beasts like they appeared, or they could be something difference. She couldn’t discriminate against creatures she’d never met before, especially when they’d done nothing to harm her.

“We should try talking to them?”

“What? Are you mad?”

“Let there be a chance for peace. If we attack we are starting a war.”

“The king wouldn’t like that, but who will try and reason with them?”

“I will.” She nodded.

“Is that wise?”

“I see no other way. Be ready.”

Vil’ek nodded and felt at his two curved daggers in sheaths at his sides. Starlyn took a deep gulp before moving forward. She noticed Vil’ek signal the rest of the elves to join his side in case of the worst. It didn’t make her feel any better to know that he expected the worst, though it could have been that he was only preparing for the worst.

She stepped forward into the small clearing and found all the creatures’ eyes on her. “Hello there, my name is Starlyn. Who are you?”

The creatures didn’t speak but slithered amongst themselves. She noticed their long skinny tongues with barbed tips and shivered. Before she had a chance to distinguish if they were friend or foe they were upon her. Fourteen of them stood all around her and were closing in. She shivered and took a step back without purpose.

“Dieeeeeee.” One of the creatures spoke.

In that moment she lifted her large hammer into the air and blocked a strike from one and soon another. The third attacker sent he sprawling to the ground, nearly dropping her hammer. They had no weapons, but with their brute strength, sharp claws, and hardened scales – it seemed they didn’t need any.

Within moments she noticed Vil’ek and the other eighteen elves approach around her with a frantic battle. She got back up to her feet and joined in. Weapons were tossed about, but the creatures were fast to dodge and didn’t fall as quickly as she had anticipated. She watched in horror as one of the elves fall to the ground and his speared with a few fistfuls of claws. Shivered traveled down her spin but she did not give up. Her hammer swung fiercer than before, knocking down one after another in an endless count of chaos until after several minutes there were none left.

Fourteen bodies of the creatures were scattered across the ground, and one elf. They each said a prayer to the forest gods to bring peace to Hiya’ono in the afterlife. Starlyn wiped tears from her face as did the other elves when they buried the elf into the soil to become a part of nature that he loved so dearly.

They piled the corpses of the creatures in the center of the camp and set fire to them. Starlyn had objected at first.

“If we set fire to them, any others that are out there will see it.”

“Let them come.” Vil’ek snapped.

He wasn’t too happy about the ending result. One elf dead was one too many, and she felt the same. The creatures seemed heartless, spineless, and mindless. Surely her sister couldn’t be with them. The trail they were following had to be the wrong one, and yet it didn’t feel wrong. Somehow she knew if they continued to pursue the creatures they would find her sister.

They decided not to camp in the same location as the creatures were, but just outside so that if any more came they would be close enough to fight or run – depending on how many there were. Perhaps they would be able to follow them to another settlement and see how many there were. These creatures needed to be studied carefully before brining information back to the king.

Starlyn gazed at the stars that night, reminiscing the times with her sister. The joys and fears they faced when they were out together. There was always laughter and joy in each step, and yet Arria always seemed distant somehow. It always seemed as if something was always in the back of her mind. She always claimed of being trapped, and never free. Starlyn didn’t complain about the rules and regulations of the elves, but Arria felt as if she was trapped by them.

Vil’ek came towards her and broke her of her thoughts. “What do you think of these creatures?”

“They could be a dangerous foe if there are enough of them, yet the question lies as to how many there are.”

“Their camp was small, I’m afraid the only way we can find out is if we keep moving.”

“Yes, but for how long, how far?” She asked.

“As long and far as it takes to find Arria.”

“Do you think she’s with them?”

“I have no doubt.”

“And then what? Do you want to see for yourself what she’s turned into before giving up?”

“The same as you.”

Starlyn gulped. She knew he was right. There was no way she was giving up on her sister until she found out the truth. Perhaps even then she wouldn’t give up. Starlyn always believed in the good in people, and if Arria had fallen to these creatures… there might still be a way to bring her back. If she could only show her affection and love, traits of good rather than ill. Perhaps she could find a light magic to cancel out the black… and find a spell to save both her mother and her sister. At least she could hope.

“At least these creatures are primitive and have no weapons.” He whispered.

She turned to face him with stern eyes, “Yes, but for how long?”

 

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