Nineteen Years Ago; August 24th; Parcia; Lord Darylis
My father had always said that I would consider it an honor when I became Lord of the Underground, the dwelling place of elves in the country of Parcia. Since he had died, however, I considered it nothing more than a burden. I wanted a simple life, nothing more than to date a nice girl – preferably a nice girl with a naughty side – and eventually marry her and have children. I didn’t want to be in charge of other people’s lives. So instead of facing the fact that at the age of eighteen I had an unwanted and unavoidable load of responsibility sitting on my shoulders like a heavy stone gargoyle, I escaped from the Underground and climbed the great willow tree that stood above it like a mother watching over her child.
When I was little, I always loved climbing trees. Especially the willow tree, which was one of the only ones in the entire country. Parcia was a jagged, grassy piece of land in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, a hundred miles south of Reykjavík, Iceland. Although my dead parents had both been from Iceland, I called Parcia home. I had never been anywhere else.
I pulled my long legs against my chest and leaned back against the trunk of the tree, closing my eyes. After a long day of being forced to learn every one of my new duties from my father’s advisor, Jibril, I was exhausted. I was also relieved to know that I had succeeded in hiding myself away. I sighed and listened to the silence of the night. All of a sudden, I was alerted by the whispering of footsteps against the grass. Opening my eyes, I leaned forward to sneak a glance through the leaves at who was coming, but as I shifted my weight, my foot slipped against the trunk and I fell, landing on my back in the grass. I blinked for a moment, stunned. Then a heavenly vision appeared before me and it was like I was in a dream.
She had long tresses of blonde hair that curled all the way down to her waist. Her lips and cheeks were pink, adding a splash of color to her pale complexion. I thought she was probably my age, so I didn’t hesitate before glancing down at the rest of her. To my utter distraction, she was wearing a tight black leather dress that didn’t even come to her knees and that squeezed her breasts into perfect cleavage. She also had on black thigh-high boots. I found the strip of white flesh between the bottom of her dress and the top of her boots and stared at it in fascination until she spoke.
“Are you alright? That looked like a nasty fall,” she said.
My stomach clenched at the sound of her voice and I struggled into a sitting position, not wanting to look like I had been affected at all by my violent moment of clumsiness.
“I’m fine. Who are you?”
She gave me a smile and her eyes sparkled as she stretched out her hand.
“Catherine. Pleased to meet you…”
“Darylis,” I said, accepting her hand and allowing her to pull me to my feet.
I was surprised at how strong she was and continued to stare.
“Are you… You can’t be the Lord of the Underground? I was told to find a Lord Darylis, but I was picturing a man in his forties or fifties at least!”
“You’re picturing my late father, then.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
She cocked her head at me and I saw that the sparkle in her eyes had gone.
“It’s okay. Anyways, now I’ve got his position, so I’m in charge even though I don’t want to be. Are you a visitor?”
“Yes. From Sweden. I’ve been traveling abroad, trying to find someone other than a Swede to fall in love with. I can tell you know what it’s like to go stir crazy.”
“I do.” My stomach dropped. She was just like me and she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. “I haven’t met many foreign elves before. What’s your ability?”
“I don’t usually share that with just anyone.”
I nodded, but inside I was thinking, I want more than anything to become someone that she can share things with.
“Okay. Well, I can communicate with nature. For instance…” I closed my eyes and reached out to place a hand gently on the trunk of the willow tree. “I know that this tree is feeling tired right now. When you’re as old as she is, you can’t help but be tired all the time.”
The tree had been around as long as the Underground and was the thing that held the elfin dwelling all together with its strong, magical roots. I opened my eyes. Catherine’s eyes were large and curious and she took a step closer to me. The grass sighed as she came to me and I could hear it whispering and speculating about what was about to happen. In my mind, I was speculating too. Surely she wasn’t about to do what I thought she was going to do. I had definitely felt the chemistry between us, but after being together for scarcely a few minutes, her predicted action seemed premature. She stopped when she was close enough that I could feel her breath hot on my cheek. She smelled like mint and clover and I breathed her in deeply. I could tell that she was nervous. The flowers at my feet told me what she was going to do just before it happened. One minute she was standing there and the next she was leaning, leaning…
The minute that her soft lips brushed against mine, it was like a miniature explosion took place in my mind. All of a sudden, she became this radiant vision – more so than she already was, which I hadn’t thought possible. I found myself light on my feet, as if I had just fallen into a different world; a better world where she was the most important thing. And so I kissed her back ardently.