When I originally started writing The Lost Scrolls Trilogy, this is part of what I had for Elthinor before he was fleshed out into who he is now. I found the old documents and thought I’d share this with the world.
I came to slowly, my head throbbing. A wet, warm tongue curled up my cheek and I forced my eyes open. Ember’s soft orange eyes met mine and I smiled weakly, reaching a hand up to stroke his ears. I hissed when the movement caused a stinging pain up my side, and I looked down to see that I was shirtless. I was relieved to see that my upper chest was still covered by the cloth I used to make it look flat, but beneath it and across my stomach were bandages, the ones on my side stained rusty red with dried blood. Every movement made pain shoot from my side.
“I wouldn’t suggest moving too much,” a voice said carelessly. A very male voice.
A little scream left my mouth and my arms flew up to hide my scarcely clothed chest. Ember’s ears slid back and he growled at a figure sitting across a fire. I dragged Ember in front of me and pulled him to lie down, using him to hide my top half. I peered over him, trying to see who was sitting there.
I couldn’t see his features very well; his face was hidden in the deep shadows of the tree. I could see, however, that he was very thin. Pale skin, so pale it was almost unnatural, made itself known on his hands, which were playing with something that was settled on his lap. When my heart came out of my throat, I managed a question.
“What are you doing here?” My voice held more confidence than I had.
“I could ask you the same thing,” the man said quietly. “Your kind rarely comes this far into the forest.”
“I’m looking for the things that took my mother,” I replied. “I tracked them here.”
The man stayed quiet for a moment. “Interesting,” he finally said, his fingers lightly playing along the strings on the thing in his lap.
“What is that?” I asked curiously, crossing my arms on top of Ember’s back; if he was going to hurt me, I decided, he would have done it while I was unconscious.
The man started in surprise and I wasn’t sure why. “This? It’s a lyre. A musical instrument,” he said slowly.
“Interesting,” I replied, mimicking him.
I sensed his gaze on me for a while. “In response to your first question, I’m here because I heard you screaming. I found you bleeding on the ground and bandaged you up relatively well before your Hellhound came back and tried to eat me.”
“Hellhound?” I asked with a frown. “You mean Ember? He’s a Kindle Wolf.”
“You may call him that, but to me he is a Hellhound,” the man said tersely. “He attacked me and would have eaten me had it not been for your being hurt.”
“Ember won’t eat you!” I said and laughed. The man’s body language suggested that he was surprised by me yet again, and a bit offended.
“How would you know?” he asked angrily, clearly not liking me laughing at him.
“I trained him!” I said with a smile.
More surprise. “Really?” he asked in amazement. “You trained a Hellhound?!”
“Um, yes,” I said slowly. “Why?”
“You are a female! A human female! Even the males of my kind do not dare to go near such a creature! You are truly a brave girl!”
My eyes narrowed and I stared hard at him. “What do you mean by your kind?”
The man was still for a moment, his fingers even stopping their dance across the lyre. I suddenly noticed that the back of his hand had something greenish silver on it. I stood up, completely disregarding my state of dress and the flash of pain from my side, and pulled out my knife, my eyes as hard as the blade.
“What are you?” I asked through clenched teeth as Ember bared his.
The man stood up and moved closer to the fire, the flames finally spilling light on his features. I couldn’t believe my eyes. His face was very fair for a male, his eyes soft and bright, his hair past his shoulders, and his lips rather thin, but it was the colors that dazzled me.
His entire color scheme seemed to be based on green and silver. His eyes were a deep, dark green edged with silver that spiked into the green. His hair was various shades of green, silver streaks scattered through it, including in his delicate braids. But his eyes and his hair were nothing compared to his face.
Green and silver designs started at the inside corner of his right eye and swept up and around it before curling in on itself like a vine then blooming into an intricate silver flower on the upper part of his cheek. The left side of his face was a swath of green and silver that traced just along the inside edge of his jaw then branched off into an upside down tree-like pattern with swirls at the tips of the branches.
The colors seemed dull in the light of the fire and I could do nothing but stare. The creature watched me with a sad expression, shifting under my gaze. Once my shock wore off and I could speak, I asked my question again.
“What are you?”
He looked down. “I am an Elf,” he said quietly.
The village storyteller had told me of Elves, what little humans knew of them at least, and he didn’t look anything like what he had said. I stared at him in confusion, lowering the knife slowly. The pain in my side suddenly made itself known and I grabbed my side. The Elf reached over as if to catch me, prompting a deep growl from Ember. He pulled back immediately.
“Look, Elf,” I said after a moment. “I know you’re trying to help, but right now I just want to sleep. I’ll deal with…this tomorrow, alright?” The Elf nodded, reaching down to grab his lyre. “Are you leaving?”
“I disturb you,” he said. “I’m going to go make my own camp.”
“I don’t mind you staying,” I said quietly.
“Why not?” he asked in confusion.
I looked at him and decided to tell him the truth. “Because I’m scared those creatures will come back and, even if you’re not human, I’d like protection.”
This time I knew why I’d startled him, but he did settle himself down in his bedroll. I sat down too, wincing as my side spasmed in pain, and curled my knees up to hide my chest again, aware of being half naked again. The Elf watched me and picked something up, tossing it to me over the fire. It was my shirt. There was a rip in it where the sword had sliced through and I immediately reached for my bag, digging in it until I found the needle and thread.
The rip was repaired in no time and I slipped the shirt on, relaxing as I was covered completely again. I had just put the needle and thread back in the back when leaves crunched in the forest just outside the firelight. I tensed and stared at the fire, curling my hand in Ember’s fur and ignoring the sharp eyes on me.
“It’s just an animal,” the Elf said after a moment.
“How do you know?” I asked sharply. “How do you know it’s not the things that took my mother?”
“Because it doesn’t feel dark.”
Those simple, sincere words had me relaxing and I finally lie down, curling up in my bedroll. The Elf watched me for a little while before getting into his own bedroll. I felt strangely safe around this creature despite him not being human. I sighed softly and closed my eyes, falling asleep quickly.
Eyes. Sickly yellow-green eyes set in an inky shadow. Beside it was my mother, pale and ill-looking. I reached for her, but she was dragged away. A cool breeze blew over the back of my neck. I spun around to see another shadow behind me. Its eyes gleamed wickedly as it swooped down…
I woke up screaming. Strong hands were pressing into my shoulders, shaking me. I stopped screaming, tears sliding down my cheeks as I stared at the Elf’s wide eyes. Forgetting that I just met him, forgetting that Elves were supposed to be dark, horrid creatures, forgetting that I didn’t like crying, I leaned forward, buried my face against his chest, and started sobbing.
The Elf seemed shocked at first then wrapped his arms around me, gently squeezing me and murmuring soft little reassurances in my ear. I cried myself out then just stayed there, breathing in his musky forest scent. He stroked my back for a moment then pushed me away slightly and looked at me.
“I take it was a dark vision?” he asked softly. I nodded and his face, darkened by deep shadows, softened. “That is why Elf-maidens stay away from the dark parts of the forest.”
Without thinking, I slapped him. Hard. He reeled back, what I could see of his eyes widening in shock. He released me and nearly sat in the smoldering fire as his hand reached up to cup his abused cheek.
“You hit me!” he gasped.
“Don’t you tell me what a girl should and shouldn’t do, Elf boy,” I growled.
“Well, that’s the thanks I get for comforting you?” he demanded.
I stared at him for a moment. “Thank you,” I said coldly. “But don’t do that again. I know I’m not like other girls. Get used to it and don’t tell me what to do. I’ve travelled miles and miles, most of it through the forest, fighting dark creatures. I’ve been tracking the creatures that took my mother for weeks. I’ve hunted my own food for that whole time and I haven’t gone hungry yet. I’ve done things my sex isn’t supposed to be able to do, and I’ve done it with flying colors. So think about that before you try to degrade me.”
The Elf looked abashed. “I didn’t mean to degrade you. I’ve already mentioned that you are a brave girl. I have to respect you because of your Hellhound. I was merely stating a fact.”
I blinked. “You’re forgiven.”
“So what was the dark vision about?” he asked after an awkward silence.
“My mother and those things,” I said shortly.
“I take it you do not wish to talk about it?”
“Do you wish to sleep?”
“Would you like me to play my lyre for you?” he asked after a long moment.
I thought about it. “If you wouldn’t mind. I haven’t heard music in a while.”
The Elf stoked up the fire then sat down and picked up his lyre. I watched him fascinated as his fingers began to dance across the strings, producing beautiful music. I lost myself in the dulcet tones.
I opened my eyes to see the early morning sun shining through the trees. I blinked as I realized that I must have fallen back asleep listening to the Elf’s lyre. As soon as he popped into my mind, I sat up and looked over to him, ignoring the complaints of my side. He was sleeping peacefully on his side. I could do nothing but stare for a moment as the sunlight caught his peaceful face and made the designs on his face shimmer.
Entranced, I crawled over to him quietly and just sat there staring. He shifted as if sensing my gaze, but stayed asleep. Before I realized what I was doing, I reached out and pressed two fingers onto the shining silver flower, stroking it. The Elf surged up, his deceptively thin hand grabbing my wrist in a grip of steel, and a knife flashed out from his wrist. He pressed the cold metal to my throat and glared at me, fright in the depth of his eyes.
“What…are you doing?” he asked slowly after he registered it was me.
I blinked. “Seeing if it’s paint.”
The Elf lowered the knife and looked at me funny. “Seeing if what’s paint?”
“The green and silver.”
“Oh. No. It’s a part of my skin,” he said as he placed the knife back into the sheath on his wrist. “I forgot that humans don’t have such decorations.”
“Are you born with it or does it grow or something else?”
“They bloom out of our skin as we mature. I’m still in the middle of my maturing.”
“There’s going to be more?” I asked in amazement.
“Not on my face, girl. The face is usually the first thing to finish. It’s the rest of my body that’s not done. The decorations are there, they’re just not completely there.”
“Oh. So that’s why I didn’t notice the colors on the back of your hand at first.”
“Yes. They fade in and out.”
“Neat,” I said. “Sorry if I scared you, by the way.”
“Ha! I am never scared, girl!” he said as he puffed out his chest.
I frowned. “I have a name, you know.”
“Oh? And what would that name be?” he asked, still acting as if he were the bravest thing in the world.
“Filynora Raeloc,” I said sternly.
“Filynora?” he asked looking startled. “But that is an Elven name!”
I shrugged, ignoring the jolt in the pit of my stomach. “What’s your name?”
“Elthinor,” he replied. “Elthinor Cyzaen at your service.”
I snickered as he bowed, feeling a bit strange at being given such a gesture. “Um, thanks?”
He chuckled. “You are quite welcome.”
I smiled at him warmly then it hit me. I just met this Elf; how did I know I could trust him? Yet, we were talking as if we had known each other for years. He seemed to realize this too and we spent a few minutes in awkward silence, glancing up at each other. We just seemed to be too comfortable, and it made us uncomfortable.
“So…how’s your side?” he asked eventually.
“It aches,” I replied, looking at him.
“Would you like me to look at it and change the bandages?”
I shifted at the thought of being shirtless, but I nodded; my shyness wouldn’t help the wound heal. I slowly stripped my shirt off, my face reddening. Elthinor noticed my discomfort and smiled at me, reassuring me. For some reason, it relaxed me and I allowed him to unwrap the bandages. The cut was vicious, but shallow. It stretched from just blow the cloth nearly to the edge of my pants. I winced as I saw if for the first time.
“What did this to you?” he asked as he pulled an oil flask out of his bag and began rubbing it into the torn flesh.
“I don’t know. They’re dark things. Glowing yellow-green eyes. Sharp white teeth. It clawed me.”
His face paled and his hands quivered. “Aswang,” he whispered harshly.
“Aswang? What’s an Aswang?”
“That creature you described. It’s a cross between a vampire and a Furie, so they are mostly female, but there have been a few males sighted. They’re bloodsuckers and meat eaters. Death personified. Their skin is a dark smoky grey. They’re vicious and it’s a miracle you’re alive. They can move so fast that it’s like magic. Their bite is poisonous and fatal if not treated. Their claws are disease ridden and if I hadn’t found you and treated you, you’d probably be dead.”
The barrage of information stunned me. They sounded horrible, but I didn’t know what a vampire or a Furie were. I was afraid to ask him another question, but he registered the confused expression on my face.
“What’s a vampire?”
He smiled. “A vampire is a night creature. They are pale and have two fangs on the top set of their teeth that they use to suck the blood of their victims. Their eyes are completely one color, usually red, with no pupils or irises. Their ears are pointed like an Elf’s, but they always have black hair and deep purple circles under their eyes. They usually prey on a single village, usually a human settlement because we Elves are too alert for them. They sleep in caves because the sunlight burns them and makes them catch fire.”
“And a Furie?”
“A Furie is hideous and disgusting. They look like old human women. They have pure black skin, their hair isn’t hair at all, but black snakes that constantly hiss and writhe. They smell terrible, like death warmed over. Poison often drips from their mouths and, occasionally, their eyes. When they call to each other, it’s a dog’s bark that is dark and sinister sounding. They, like most dark creatures, prefer night.”
I swallowed, glad for the sunlight pouring down through the trees. Even in the bright morning light, the very mention of those creatures frightened me. And, from the look on the Elf’s face, they frightened him too. The Elf broke the silent spell we had fallen into.
“Breakfast?” he asked, forcing a light tone into his voice.
I nodded, forcing my mind towards lighter things. “Sounds nice.”
Elthinor pulled out a loaf of bread and a small drawstring pouch. He broke the bread in half, handing me my piece, and opened the pouch.
“Hold out your hand.”
I did as he asked and he poured out several red balls into my hand. I stared at them in confusion, having never seen anything like it. I looked at him expectantly and he smiled.
“It’s a cherry. A type of fruit. It’s quite sweet.”
I examined one and the red color was appealing, so I popped one in my mouth. The flavor stunned me and I chewed slowly, enjoying every single drop of the juicy fruit.
“This is amazing!”
“They are one of my favorite fruits,” he stated with a smirk. “I am surprised that you haven’t had one before.”
“My village isn’t on the traders’ normal route. We grow all our food and there are no fruit trees or bushes around us. We only get fruit when the traders come down every five years or so. They’ve never had cherries. Only apples and strawberries and grapes.”