In the world known as Libretto, there are many kingdoms. The Kingdom of Alovia, the most powerful of the kingdoms and works to keep the peace between all the others. Many stories have been told about this kingdom and the people within it. The Kingdom of Obrenor, who seeks to conquer the other kingdoms and control all the land. Not many people outside of this kingdom know of what life was like there. It was a mystery. The final kingdom that is important to this story is the Kingdom of Nythstaesi. The home of the Elves. My home. And to us, we call this world Fenarion.
I grew up in Nythstaesi my entire life. Educated and groomed to be a leader for my people. My father and mother were the King and Queen of this proud land of Elves. The ruled peacefully, caring for the land and their people as the Gods would demand. I was raised to take their place when it was time for them to pass on to the world of the Gods.
We don’t believe in the single God the other kingdoms call the Great Author Romos. And the name of the world, Libretto, is that of that religion. Fenarion, we believe, was created by our five Gods. Rilene, the Goddess Overall. Oldall, the God Over All and Rilene’s eternal companion. With them are their three children. Moris, the God of the Land and Skies. Omohr, the God of the Seas. And Sobin, the Goddess of those passed. Their teachings are what guide the Elven people in life. Because of what we learned from our Gods. We live happy peaceful lives.
My people had no qualms with the other kingdoms. We always were open to trade and commerce. We found ways to resolve conflict without the loss of life. And we offered support to any kingdom in need of supplies. We kept the peace and made our own little paradise within our boarders.
I didn’t know that peace would end so suddenly. My guard, and friend, Arlen dragged me by the hand through one of the castle’s hidden passages as a massacre happened beyond the walls. My mother and father were killed on sight, and many of our people were wiped out before we could even comprehend what was happening.
I was reading in my room when Arlen interrupted by breaking my door open. Without explanation, he simply grabbed me and ran. I quickly found out why though when we entered the foyer and several of our knights were fighting those of the enemy. These knights had on black tunics with gold lions embroidered onto them. Silver colored armor with gold accents around the eyes. Those who were leaders had on red and gold capes draped around their shoulders. The clang of metal swords rang in my ears as we made our way through. As we passed the foyer, I saw the lifeless bodies of my loving parents. In that moment, my world shattered.
My dress dragged me down when Arlen pulled me ahead of him and stopped the progress of a sword with his own. He quickly fought off the other knight and pushed me forward. We soon were in the passage and he kept pulling me forward. It felt as though I had been running for hours once we were in the winter forest just beyond the castle boarders. Arlen pushed me forward towards the frozen tundra beyond the kingdom borders. Just a short walk through the trees, and I would be there.
“Go!” Arlen demanded.
I turned on heel to look at him. “What? I can’t...”
“You have to!” He said as he took a step closer to me and concern filled his eyes. “If you don’t then the knights will find you and kill you too. You have to survive to continue leading our people.”
“Then come with me!” I begged.
“Meira.” His hand went to my shoulder and squeezed it. “I have to stay and help protect the kingdom. I made an oath.”
“You also made an oath to protect me.” I countered in fear.
“I know, but the only way to protect you is if you go alone.” He explained. “They would be able to tell who you are if you have someone like me guarding you. But you have to go. Hide and stay safe until we can come get you.”
Tears soaked my skin as I listened to his explanation. Would I even be safe on my own? Fear was the only emotion in my chest, and I trembled at the thought of being alone on the journey. I didn’t know where to go, or who I could trust. I was terrified. The image of my parent’s corpses was burned into my mind, and it terrified me that the same could happen.
“Make your way towards Alovia.” Arlen suggested. “You will be safe there. The people will accept you. Try to find King Darian. When you tell him what happened, he should help you. Go there, and that’s where we will find you.”
I took in a harsh breath and gave him a hug. He wrapped one arm around my body, but quickly pushed me away when the sounds of knights making their way through the passage entered his ears.
“Go!” He shouted.
I didn’t see what happened to him. I simply turned and ran the opposite direction. I ran until I was exhausted. I ran until my feet begged me to stop. I ran to my breaking point and kept going because I knew the further, I was, the safer I was. The branches of the trees scraped at my clothes and skin. I tripped over rocks and roots as I ran. Once I even fell to the ground. Pain covered my body, but the pure adrenalin and fear that was rooted in my belly kept me going. I didn’t stop until I reached the edge of the tundra.
I wrapped my hands around my arms and rubbed them for warmth as I stepped into the snow. I walked for longer than I could count. I kept my eye on a point in the distance that guided me. I didn’t stop as night fell. I wasn’t tired. I felt numb to my needs and kept moving. At one point, I ripped the top part of my skirts off my dress and wrapped it around myself to stay warm. The dawn came, and I finally found a small village I could rest in.
My heart lightened as I began to walk closer to the tavern but stopped when I saw the same armor on the knights here that were at my home. I was in enemy territory. My hand instinctively went up to my long-pointed ears. I wasn’t welcome in that kingdom. Turning away, I started to walk to a different destination.
I stopped again and looked back. A kind looking gentleman was walking towards me. I stayed still, not knowing what he wanted. Maybe he was talking to someone else. Maybe he didn’t even see me. If anything, I was still frightened to know what would happen.
He stopped just in front of me. “You look like you need a good meal and a warm bed.”
“Well,” he said with a smile and twinkle in his old eyes. “Come on. Let’s get you taken care of.”
“I don’t have any money.” I responded.
He stopped his trek back to the tavern and looked back at me. “Then you’ll just have to work it off, won’t you?”
He still had a smile on his lips that was emphasized by the full silver beard and mustache. Walking to the tavern, I quickly jogged up and followed him into the building. It was warm and welcoming. There was an older woman already working over some food. She gave a warm smile to the older man.
“I didn’t expect you to be awake.” He said to her sweetly.
She let out a small giggle. “I had to prepare breakfast for my wonderful husband.”
I peeked out from behind him, and her face changed from one of joy to surprise. Her eyes went to her husband and she raised her eyebrows.
“Darling,” He asked as he moved me in front of him. “Could you prepare another plate of food for this one? I found her on the edge of town looking a little lost.”
“Of course, honey.” He agreed with a small smile.
I was guided over to a table, and not too long after a hot plate of food was placed in front of me. The smell was intoxicating and I realized how hungry I was. My voice did not sound as I ate. I did not talk with the elderly couple. I didn’t know how long I was going to be welcomed there.
From what I could see, I was in the Obrenor Kingdom. I recognized the crest on the knight’s uniforms. That crest that decorated their tunic and was indented into their left shoulder armor. That armor would forever be burned into my memory as the people who attacked and killed my family and people. I didn’t know what to do. Arlen told me to go to Alovia, but I honestly didn’t know which way I needed to go in my frantic escape from the palace.
Nythstaesi, my kingdom, was the furthest kingdom to the East. Obrenor separated my kingdom and Alovia. But at the same time, I figured I was in Obrenor, when it could have been my own conquered land. But the people who surrounded me were human. Most that lived in Nythstaesi were Elven. I needed to confirm where I was before I could start figuring out where to go.
I studies the maps of my kingdom to Alovia extensively, and I had enough experience in the wild to know how to find my directions. I was certain I could make it there on my own, but only if I had a better understanding of the current situation. I needed to know where I was, and how far it would be for me to get to Alovia.
But for now, I needed rest and a full stomach. Because of the kind couple, I was already on my way there. I glanced up at them, and they gave me a sweet smile. Once my mouth was empty, along with my plate, I looked up at the couple.
“Thank you.” I said softly. “For the food.”
The woman chuckled. “No need to be so nervous, sweety. We aren’t going to hurt you.”
I looked away, guilt filling my chest. “I know... I just left my home which was recently attacked by... bandits...”
I didn’t want to accuse their knights of attacking my home. I also wanted to be sure to keep my identity hidden for as long as possible. If they knew that it was the knights, they could figure out I was possibly part of the nobility of Nythstaesi. I had to keep myself safe at all costs. Even if it meant lying about who I was.
“Oh,” the gentleman said. “I’m sorry to hear that. But you’re safe in this house. Follow me. I’ll show you to your room.”
I hesitantly complied and left my seat. Following him to a small room that had a simple bed and dresser. He moved to the side as I walked in and took in the surroundings. Though I had spent my life in large rooms with expensive furniture, nothing felt more like home than that room at that moment.
“You’ll stay here while you work.” He explained kindly. “Think of this as a new home for you. You’ll help cook and clean around the tavern and prepare rooms for guests staying, okay?”
I nodded. “Thank you for your kindness.”
He gave me a smile. “You haven’t told me your name. You can call me Mr. Natale. You can call my wife Mrs. Natale.”
I blinked. I hadn’t thought of a name for me to go by. I had to choose a name that would be easy for me to remember, as well as wouldn’t alert anyone to who I actually was. Luckily, my mother had a relatively common Elf name that I could use. And I felt comfortable with it.
“Elora.” I responded.
“Welcome, Elora.” Mr. Natale said with a little bow. “To Winter Tavern and Inn.”