Original Ending of I Am the Way

Here is the original ending of what turned out to be the first book. I wrote this while going off the sketches for what Valtrak and Elthinor were going to be before they became who they are, so the vast majority of book one wasn’t written yet. Enjoy it. 🙂

 

“Mother! Get up!” I shouted desperately, shaking her shoulders.

“Filynora!” Elthinor exclaimed as he and Valtrak hurried over to me.

“She won’t get up, Elthinor! Tell her to get up!” I told him, tears burning down my cheeks.

“Filynora, stop shaking her,” the Elf said quietly.

“Tell her to get up!”

“She’s not getting up.”

“She has to! We have to go home!”

Valtrak grabbed my shoulders and tried to pull me away, but I fought him. I didn’t understand why mother wasn’t getting up. This was just a joke she was playing. It had to be. I shook her harder as thunder sounded in the grey sky. Elthinor grabbed me around my waist and gave a hard tug. Their combined strength finally pulled me away from my mother.

The truth hit me hard. She wasn’t getting up. She was gone. I froze for a moment that lasted forever as I stared at her bloody face then I began screaming. And screaming. And screaming.

Chapter

Elthinor and Valtrak were covered in dirt. It was so thick in Elthinor’s hair that it almost looked like human hair. They were placing rocks on the fresh grave to keep the animals out. I stared at the churned earth that now held my mother’s body. There were no more tears left in me to cry and my throat was too raw for me to speak.

They were tired. That much was obvious. They’d had to hold me to keep me from hurting myself in my pain. Once I had calmed down, they dug the grave for my mother without my asking them to. Elthinor placed the last rock on the pile and stretched, grimacing from what I could only assume were muscle cramps. He walked over to me and sat down beside me, wrapping a comforting arm around my shoulders.

“Fily,” he started, gentle and soft, and for the first time in my life I didn’t hate that nickname. “I…I can’t imagine what you’re going through. To lose your mother like that, right in front of you. It must be devastating.”

“Stop,” I said quietly. “Don’t do this. I can’t handle it right now. I just want to sleep.”

Elthinor watched my face for a moment then nodded. “If that’s what you need. Ember, come here boy.”

The Kindle Wolf came quickly, whimpering and nuzzling at my face. I pet him slowly and he lay in my lap as Elthinor set up my bedroll. He led me over and pulled it snugly up to my chin. He and Valtrak bade me goodnight and I immediately fell asleep, emotionally exhausted.

            I was sitting on a rock beside a stream, wearing a long sleeved black dress with red edging the sleeves and collar. A strong, gentle hand was placed on my shoulder. I refused to look at him, but it didn’t seem to bother him.

“I’m sorry,” he said quietly.

“She’s dead. She’s gone,” I said, my voice hollow.

“I know.”

“She said she knew you.”

“She did. Your father told her about me. She was a very brave and lovely woman.”

“She called you Jesiah.”

The man’s voice held a smile when he spoke. “That is what they know me as. I rather like the name.”

“Why did she have to die?”

“The same reason you all must die.”

“And what reason is that?”

“You shall learn that later, child.”

            I was silent for a while, letting my misery overcome me. A question came to my lips without thought in my desperation.

“Is she alright?”

“She will be.”

            That simple answer gave me a hope I’d never felt before. I finally looked up at him. He smiled lovingly at me.

“I want revenge, but that’s not the reason I have to go after them, is it?”

“No.”

“I have to go after them because what they’re doing to humankind is wrong and somebody has to stop them. I have to go after them because they’re evil and they’ll keep doing this until somebody stops them. I have to go after them because they’re trying to get the Elves, Dwarves, and other races under their command, too.” I paused for a moment. “I know I have to, but I can’t,” I admitted. “I’m too scared.”

He watched my face for a moment. “You don’t have to. You could go home, rebuild your farm.”

            I was immediately confused. I thought for sure he’s want me to go after them. If he was a part of my mind like Elthinor said he was, he was a part I had no control over.

“But I thought-” I began then cut off. “Why are you doing this?”

            He just smiled.

I looked down and thought about the two options for a moment. “I don’t know. I’m still scared, but that won’t stop them. I can’t just go home,” I decided suddenly. “It wouldn’t help the problem. And the Aswangs will come back for me. I have to go after them.”

There was a look of pride and joy on Jesiah’s face that made me feel good. “Good choice, my child.”

I was staring up at the brightening sky. I sat up, feeling well rested and knowing what I had to do. I stood and packed up my things and waited for my friends to wake up. After about an hour Valtrak stirred. He sat up and looked at me worriedly.

“Filynora?” he asked hesitantly. “Are…are you alright?”

I smiled. “I will be. Get up and pack. We’re going after them.”

He looked worried, but did as I’d told him. His movements woke Elthinor, who gave me the same worried look before getting up and packing as well. I handed both of them some bread and we ate in silence. Both of them were still looking at me with nervous expressions on their faces.

“Fily,” Elthinor began, then caught himself. “I mean, Filynora-”

“You two can call me Fily,” I told him quietly. “It’s not insulting when you say it.”

“Oh…Alright then, Fily, are you sure about this? Revenge isn’t really the best idea, especially against such dark enemies.”

“It’s not just revenge. They’ll keep doing this to others. We have to stop them.”

“You’re not just talking about the Aswangs, are you?” Valtrak asked.

“No,” I said shaking my head. “We’re going after their leaders.”

“Their leaders,” he said blandly. “The ones that rule over the entire human race with an iron fist. The ones that easily defeated armies in combat. The ones whose servants can beat us.?”

“Yes,” I said resolutely. “That is exactly who we’re going after.”

“Did that man tell you to do it?” Valtrak asked uncertainly.

“His name is Jesiah, and he didn’t directly tell me to do it. He gave me a choice. He almost always gives me a choice. The one time he didn’t, he was warning me.”

I realized how true that statement was. No matter what I had done, he’d always given me a choice to go on or go back. And each time he had been proud of me when I went on.

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The Original Sketch of Valtrak

Here’s the original sketch I had of Valtrak. As you can see, I had Elves and Dwarves pitted against each other, as they have been since Lord of the Rings. I eventually changed this to Elves vs. Satyrs and Dwarves vs. Centaurs just to switch it up. This is what Valtrak was before he fleshed out into the character that he is now.

 

I floundered desperately, trying to break the surface of the river for air. Every time I did manage to get my head above the water, I was pushed back under immediately. Suddenly I stopped panicking. I was going to die, and it didn’t scare me. Elthinor’s voice faded from my ears and my vision was edged with black. Everything was fading when a strong hand grabbed my shirt and pulled me out.

I must’ve blacked out because when I came to, those same strong hands were forcing water out of my lungs. My throat burned fiercely as I turned and vomited up the last of the water. I lay on my side, gasping in fresh air. When my body stopped fighting me I turned to thank Elthinor. Only, it wasn’t Elthinor that stared back at me.

A short, stocky man was staring at me, his eyes golden brown. He had a long beard that was almost the same color as his eyes. He wore rough clothes, all shades of brown. Beside him was a strange looking tool covered in dust. He continued to stare at me for a while, and I just stared back, not quite sure what to make of him. I was surprised when he spoke.

“Are you a girl?” he asked quietly, his voice deep and gravelly.

I blinked then frowned angrily. “Of course I’m a girl!” I croaked, my voice lower than usual because of my raw throat.

“You look like a boy.”

I would have gotten on to him if I hadn’t been trying to look like a boy. Instead I sighed and flopped back down, covering my eyes with my arm. Everything ached.

“Thank you for saving me,” I muttered.

“You’re welcome. You’re lucky it’s my break,” he said absently. “I have a question. Why aren’t you home taking care of your husband?”

My face turned red and the man looked a bit unsure. I was about to yell his ears off when a frantic voice called out.

“Filynora!”

“Elthinor!” I gasped, forcing myself up. Ignoring the burn in my throat, I began to shout. “Elthinor! I’m over here!”

I heard him shoving through the woods, not caring for once if he made noise. I knew he must be frantic. He probably thought I was dead.

“Oh, is that your husband?”

“He’s not my-!” I began when Elthinor burst into the clearing, saw me, and embraced me.

“Filynora! Filynora! You’re alive! Oh you had me worried, dear one!” he cried, tears gleaming on his cheeks.

“I’m fine,” I laughed, hugging him back.

“How? The current is so strong! I could barely get back out!”

“That man over there saved me,” I said, pointing. I caught the man’s expression and found him glaring at Elthinor. “What’s the matter?”

Elthinor looked at him and let out a shout, dragging me behind him as he pulled out his knife. “How dare you touch her, you evil little child?!”

“You travel with a human, tree demon?! You must have her hypnotized!”

“Hey! What’s the matter with you?” I demanded, grabbing the Elf’s wrist. “He saved me, Elthinor! This man saved me!”

“He’s no man, Filynora! He’s a Dwarf! They’re demented children interested only in shiny things!”

“You’re one to talk! All Elves are carefree demons who terrorize my people!”

I stood back and watched as they called each other terrible names, my mouth hanging open slightly. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Or my ears. Elthinor had always been kind, even if he was a little distant at times, and to see him angry and cursing at the Dwarf who saved my life was bizarre. Even if the Dwarf had insulted me twice, I didn’t think it was fair for him to be cursed at. At the same time, I didn’t like that the Dwarf was cursing my friend.

I walked up to stand in between them, but I was immediately pushed aside. I growled and shoved Elthinor as hard as I could. He yelped and stumbled, falling into the mud on the riverbank. The Dwarf laughed meanly and I turned and slapped him hard. He stopped laughing and pressed his hand to his cheek, obviously shocked that I’d hit him. I glared at him and slapped him again.

“You-You hit me!” he gasped. “Why?”

“The first one was for arguing with my friend. The second one was for insulting me.”

“How did I insult you?!”

“You told me what I should be doing. Just because I’m a girl doesn’t mean every male gets to tell me what to do.”

“Ha! Not the smartest thing to say to her,” Elthinor crowed in joy.

“Do I have to remind you that you did the same thing when we met?”

Elthinor looked properly chastised and the Dwarf looked a bit angry, but seemed to concede. They both were obviously embarrassed about their actions, probably their words, too. I’ve discovered that most males find it improper to curse in front of the ‘delicate’ sex. Sure enough, Elthinor began to apologize.

“I’m sorry, Filynora,” he said quietly. “I’m sorry you had to hear that. I don’t really know what I was thinking.”

The Dwarf nodded, refusing to look at me. “Sorry for the language, miss.”

“It’s fine. I’ve heard worse,” I said. “But I don’t want you fighting. The Dwarf saved my life, Elthinor. And you, um…”

“Valtrak,” the Dwarf supplied.

“Valtrak, Elthinor is my friend. So stop fighting and get along.”

“Why should I listen to a girl?!” Valtrak demanded harshly.

I narrowed my eyes and whistled. Immediately Ember burst from the trees where he’d been hiding and bounded over to stand at my side. The Dwarf looked like he was going to run. He backed up and tripped over his tool, shaking like a leaf in a wind.

“D-D-Deathbringer!” he shrieked. “Don’t kill me! Don’t kill me! I’ll listen! I’ll listen!”

I stared at him for a moment then turned to Elthinor. “Does every race have a different name for them?”

“I wouldn’t know. We Elves keep to ourselves. In fact, all the races keep to themselves,” he said, trying to wipe the mud off his pants.

I turned back to the Dwarf. “This is Ember. He’s mine and he listens to me. He won’t hurt you if you don’t hurt me or my Elf friend.”

“I don’t have time to hurt you. I-I have to get back to work,” Valtrak stammered, grabbing his tool and running off as fast as he could.

I watched him run and frowned. I liked the Dwarf, as gruff as he seemed. He was almost the exact opposite of Elthinor and it interested me. I wished he’d stayed. Elthinor must have known what I was thinking and didn’t comment on the Dwarf as he began cleaning the clearing, realizing that I was too tired to keep walking today.

I just sat beside the river, thinking on the Dwarf. I smiled suddenly, knowing without a doubt in my mind he’d be back. The feeling I got when I looked at him was the same I had with Elthinor. He belonged with us. I don’t know why, but we belonged together.

Chapter

When darkness began to fall, I finally moved to gather wood. Elthinor was pulling bread out of his bag. I couldn’t help but frown. I was getting sick of nothing but bread. Not that I wasn’t grateful for the food, but bread just got repetitive. If we couldn’t get meat tomorrow, I’d go looking for berries to add to the bread. A rustle in the bushes had Elthinor pulling his knife. I just smiled.

“Come on out, Valtrak,” I said smugly. “We’re just about to eat.”

The Dwarf walked hesitantly out of the bushes, eyeing the knife warily. He reached into his bag and pulled out two cloth-wrapped lumps. He tossed one to Elthinor, refusing to get too close, and handed me the other. I raised my eyebrows and unwrapped it, giving out a delighted cry when I saw it was dried meat. I embraced the Dwarf, who gasped in surprise and stood stiffly until I pulled back.

“I was just thinking how nice meat would be! Thank you!” I said happily, tearing off a chunk and chewing it with delight.

Elthinor wasn’t about to give the Dwarf bread, so I broke off some of mine and gave it to him. He took it and chewed it thoughtfully, staring into the fire and not looking up. He seemed uncomfortable, as did Elthinor, but I was completely at ease. This time I wasn’t bothered by the seeming familiarity I had with this stranger. Elthinor broke the silence, his eyes boring angrily into the newcomer.

“What are you doing here?”

The Dwarf shifted under Elthinor’s sharp gaze. “I don’t know,” he admitted in a low voice. “I just had to come back.”

“You’re welcome to be here,” I said cheerfully, my eyes daring Elthinor to protest. He didn’t.

Valtrak looked at me and smiled. “Thanks.” There was silence for a while. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m looking for my mother, and Elthinor is accompanying me,” I replied.

“Your mother? Isn’t she with-” he cut off abruptly.

“Say it,” the Elf murmured, his eyes sparkling with glee.

The Dwarf wisely rephrased what he was going to say. “Where is she?”

“The Aswangs took her.” The Dwarf shuddered in fear. “So you know them?”

“I know of them,” Valtrak said, his voice quivering. “Our fires burn constantly if they are seen anywhere near our towns.”