Chapter one: Darkness Disturbed, Enter the Light
Drell lay in the shadow of a large tree to rest after a long day and breathed a heavy sigh. He had not yet taken the time to stop and see how beautiful the forest was, but then was it not always so? The sun shown dazzlingly through the leaves dappling the dark green and brown of the forest floor with light green. Small clusters of violets and lilies littered the most sunny places and small white mushrooms gathered together in the shade of the tree trunks. The breeze rustled the leaves above making the light green spots dance with the shadows and rays of sunlight. The birds were singing and the leaves of last fall rustled as mice and other small rodents passed beneath them. Drell leaned back to let it all soak into his bones as he drifted into a peaceful sleep. Yes truly the young Shadow elf was quite at peace in the silence of this beautiful tableau of darkness and light. And there was no reason for him not to have been. After all this was his home.
He hadn’t been asleep long, for the sun had not moved far from where it had been before he had stopped to rest and the blissful weiryness that sleep brought about had not yet had time to soak into the marrow of his bones, when a piercing scream ripped through the air, shattering the stillness. Grabbing his bow, quiver, and short sword Drell leaped into the tree. Soon after that loud crashing and snapping sounds echoed through out the forest as though some large animal were stampeding through. With the sound came a human woman fair of skin with raven hair. Her bright yellow dress was shredded and torn leaving a trail of fabric behind her. Her feet were bare and bleeding for her shoes had fallen off in her haste. Behind her, hacking through the brush with short swords were two men, also human. Their clothing showed them to either be bandits or down on their luck mercenaries looking for a night of pleasure, or a slave to sell for some extra coin, perhaps both. The gap between them and the woman became smaller and smaller. The woman made a sharp turn and dashed toward the tree where Drell was hiding hoping to gain some ground on her pursuers. It might have worked had she not stumbled and fallen over a tree root half submerged in a patch of mud. The men caught up with her and one of them grabbed her by the shoulders, lifting her roughly to her feet.
“We`ve got you now wench! You shouldnt have done that, running away into an unknown forest can be dangerous. Now be a good girl and” the woman at that moment showed impressive courage by swiftly connecting her right foot to her assailants opposite knee. Drell heard a crack and the man shouted in pain, letting go of the women who turned to run again. The second man was faster however and soon had hold of her. The mans face was twisted into a snarl and he raised his hand to strike her, only to with draw it with a black arrow stuck strait through it. The man screamed and staggered back but then made to advance upon his pray again so Drell knocked and loosed two more arrows on him, one of which hit him in the shoulder the other in the leg. The man fell back then went down on one knee writhing in pain and Drell leaped down from the tree. Standing protectively in front of the woman Drell lowered his bow so that the tip of another arrow was aimed at the space in-between the mans eyes. The first man was still bent double holding his injured knee with his gaze now fixed on Drell but he seemed unsure what to do.
“Only a coward hits a woman. I ought to slay you both now right where you stand and let the wolves take care of the rest. However I’m going to let you go but I will only be generous once. So if you even try to come near this woman again I will kill you make no mistake” The man with the wounded knee sneered and raised himself up to his full height.
“Do you know who we are elf?” he asked.
“I do not and neither do I care. Your time is running out and so is my patients. Leave now or die it is that simple” The man lifted his hands in a sign of defeat.
“Very well but the girl is no consern to you surely. So we`ll just take her and”
“The Woman stays here! I felt that I had made that perfectly clear. Now you have a few seconds only left to you. Leave now or your friend dies and you will be next” The man frowned and regarded Drell calmly while a storm brewed behind his eyes. At last he said,
“Fine we`ll go but mark me elf our leader will hear of this. You have not seen the last of us I promise you” having said this, and sure that his knee was not broken, the man walked slowly to his wounded companion and lifted him up, then, with the wounded man leaning upon him weakly, he turned and walked back the way that all three of them had come. Drell watched them till they vanished in the forests shadows then released the tension on his bow and turned to face the woman to find that she had fainted.
“Shades breath”, sighed Drell, shouldering his bow and quiver he lifted the woman into his arms and slipped silently into the darkening shadows of the forest.
Neroedell, the home of the Shamera, was an enormous grove, in the Narisden forest, backed up against and surrounded by the Akabara Mountains. The tree branches had been manipulated by magic so that they intertwined and twisted together creating a solid roof above the city through which no sunlight could possibly penetrate. Two guardian oaks stood at the city’s entrance acting as guard towers. In between them stood the Spider gate. The gate was silver and its name, ofcourse, came from the way it had been formed to resemble the web of a spider. Indeed the gate appeared so delicate that a good wind might blow it away, but woe to any wind that tried. A voice called out to Drell as he approached,
“ Taken to eating Humans now have we Drell? I had not thought the hunting was that bad at this season” it was the Captain of the guard Kaladearroe calling out from his place above the gate. Drells eyes narrowed and his hands clenched, he and the Captain had never been on good terms with one another. But remembering the woman Drell swallowed his angry retort and said in its place,
“I`ve no time for you Kaladearroe and you have no right to detain me. Open the gate, lest you have forgotten who my brother is” the Captain turned pale…er and the gates swung silently open. Drell sneered as he marched swiftly onward.
Unlike their brethren in the forest of Laior, who lived in the trees, the Shamera made their homes under them. Using magic to lift the trees out of the ground the roots were strengthened and shaped to form walls. Animal skins were hung in the place of doors to welcome the cool night air into ones home. The only building in Neroedell that wasn’t under a tree was the Shamtahoe or Shadow Palace, which was carved into the mountain.
As Drell moved through the street many of the other elves stopped their work or other activities to stare at him and the woman suspiciously. He ignored them and continued on until he came to the house of Neldaroe the Elder. Neldaroe was over four thousand years old and was Drell’s and his older brother Loroedor’s adoptive father. Neldaroe was often called upon by the King to be an adviser but other than that the old man lived quietly. Drell rapped on the door frame with his silver-toed boot and Neldaroe appeared. Though he was over four thousand years old he stood just as tall and strong as any young warrior in Neroedell. He smiled but that smile turned to a frown as he espied the woman.
“What is the meaning of this son?” Drell gave no answer but simply brushed past the Elder to set the woman down gently upon the couch against the far wall. Neldaroe was neither annoyed nor angered for he was quite used to Drell’s impetuous behavior, especially when he was upset. Neldaroe watched as Drell went into the kitchen and returned with a bowl full of water and a washcloth. Setting the bowl on the floor and pulling a three-legged stool over to the couch Drell began to dab the woman’s forehead gently.
“Are you going to tell me what has happened and who that woman is or shall I guess?” Neldaroe asked, now that Drell was finally still.
“I was napping in the forest when this woman came running through the brush, two bandits were chasing her with their swords drawn. They caught up with her and were going to hurt her. I shot at them and made them leave her behind. They would have done something horrible to her if I had not done something” The hand in which Drell held the cloth clenched viciously as he brought it out of the bowl again and continued with his work.
“That doesn’t explain why you brought her here” said the Elder as he lit his pipe.
“I couldn’t just leave her there, I dont know where she came from and I couldn’t think of any where else to go” Drell’s head bowed, Neldaroe came up behind him and placed his hand on the younger elfs shoulder. There was a soft flapping sound as the wolf pelt over the door was pushed aside. The two turned to see Loroedor standing just inside.