A Life of Repentance | 28 868 / 3366 3A +

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A Life of Repentance | 28 868 / 3366 3A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:00 pm

Location: Tal En’Khalek, Jielam
Year: 28 868 (3366 Third Age)
Status: 55 Winter

Winter in Jielam was dark. For twenty weeks of the year, the sun did not rise in the north, but the land was left in a perpetual darkness that was accompanied by a bitter cold. But those who lived in Jielam and other northern nations were used to this: it was all they had ever known. Darkness meant little to them, and the cold even less. The White Elves who called this country home were immune to the cold, and spent so much time in the dark that they had adapted to it and could see just fine as long as there was even a sliver of moon. Aside from that, they had their fires for cooking and for seeing. In the constant darkness, it was difficult to tell what time it was, or when one day ended and another started, or when it was time to wake up or time to go to sleep. Only at midday was there the slightest hint of light low on the southern horizon.

On this particular day, however, a young boy was up and about long before anyone else. It was Mailon’s tenth birthday, and it was also the day that he would begin his weapons training.

“Papa!” he called out eagerly, running into the room his parents shared. They were both still fast asleep, the bearskin fur they used as a blanket draped over their waists. His pale grey eyes sparkled as he tapped at his father’s feet. “Papa, wake up! Wake up, Papa!”

His father grunted and kicked at the offending hand. “Get out of here,” he growled in his sleep.

Mailon pouted. “But Papa!” he protested. “It’s my birthday!”

His father cracked one eye open and peered at the boy, then sighed and brushed his long white hair away from his face. “So it is,” he muttered. “And I suppose that means that you want to go straight to Koya.”

“Nonsense,” Mailon’s mother spoke up softly, yawning as she sat up. “Our boy isn’t going anywhere without a decent breakfast.”

“I’ll get a fire started,” Mailon volunteered quickly, dashing out of the room and outside. He skidded to a stop on the ice and chose a few logs from their supply before bringing them over to the fire pit in front of their icy home. By the time he had lit a fire, his mother was out there with the fish he’d caught the day before, and she began cooking it immediately.

“Mailon, you need to dress properly,” she scolded her son, eying his clothes disdainfully. “Koya will not take anyone who looks like they still need help dressing. Go on, put on your good sealskin pants. Make yourself presentable.”

“Yes, Mother,” Mailon said respectfully, and ran off to do as he was told.

When he returned outside, breakfast was ready and his father had joined his mother. They ate at a leisurely pace, though Mailon wanted to rush, and then Mailon’s father shooed him off to the trainer. As was traditional for ten-year-old children on their first day of training, Mailon went alone, without either of his parents accompanying him. It was a sign of weakness for a child’s parents to come with him to the trainer, and weakness was unacceptable in White Elven society.

Koya was a tall, muscular man, his face and arms covered in scars from the many fights he had fought. He was already working with trainees when Mailon arrived, and when the boy appeared at the entrance to the arena, he barked an order for the trainees to continue with the routine they were working on and headed to the entrance to meet him.

“Good morning, si-”

“Shut up!” Koya growled.

Mailon snapped his mouth shut and looked up at the man that he had looked up to for nearly a year now. The big man was looking him over, and the boy stood as tall as he could, thrusting out his chest and sucking in his gut as he had seen others do when they were being inspected.

“Get that smirk off your face,” Koya snarled, jabbing the boy’s jaw with two rigid fingers. “Straighten up! Hands at your side!”

Mailon did as he was told as quickly as he could, but try as he might, he couldn’t get rid of his smile. He was just too excited to begin his training. In accordance with Jielam law, he had never before laid his hands on a weapon, and he was itching to do so.

Finally, Koya seemed to finish his inspection of the boy and stood in front of him, arms crossed over his chest in a confrontational pose.

“Why are you here, boy?” he barked at him.

Mailon stared straight ahead as his father had taught him. “To learn to fight, sir!” he replied smartly.

“To what purpose?”

“To keep our land safe from outsiders, and keep our race pure!”

“And will you practice what you’re shown here?”

“Every day, sir! Until my hands bleed!”

He was rewarded for that answer with a clout to the side of his head that left his vision swimming. “Bleeding hands do you no good,” Koya growled at him. “You’ll destroy yourself that way.”

Mailon kept silent as the man started circling him again, and he was so intent on keeping his eyes forward (at least he thought it was forward, for some reason his eyes didn’t quite want to focus at the moment) that he was not at all expecting what happened next. Without warning, Koya kicked him behind the knee. His knee buckled and he fell to the ground with a cry.

“Remain vigilant at all times!” Koya snapped at him. “Don’t ever give your opponent a chance to attack you!” He growled again. “Now get up.”

Mailon struggled to his feet. Now in addition to his vision swimming (though it was clearing up slightly), his leg hurt and it was difficult to keep his knee straight. This time, though, he kept an eye on his trainer, and when he saw Koya’s hand move suddenly towards him, he ducked. Once he was sure that his trainer wasn’t going to hit him again, he stood up straight once more.

“Good,” Koya snarled, though the corners of his mouth had turned up in a hint of a smile. “You’re a quick learner. Now go grab a staff. They’re by the wall.”

Mailon looked where his trainer was pointing. “Yes, sir!” he replied with a grin; and he limped off to get the required weapon.

There were a number of staves to choose from, and Mailon tried a few of them before he found one that felt good in his hand. He couldn’t explain why it felt good, or why it was the right one; he just knew that it was the right one for him. He turned around and saw his trainer watching him, and headed back to stand in front of him.

“Let’s see what you’ve got there, boy,” Koya ordered him. When Mailon held the staff up to him in both hands to present it to his trainer, the man grabbed it and brought it down hard on the muscle between Mailon’s neck and shoulder. The boy cried out in pain and fell to the ground, clutching at the spot where he had been hit and biting his lip to keep from crying.

“Never relinquish your weapon!” his trainer barked at him, striking him again with the staff, this time across his back. “How long do you expect to live if you hand your weapon to your enemy?!”

He kept raining down blows on Mailon’s unprotected back, and the other students stopped their sparring to watch in silence. Mailon closed his eyes tightly and gritted his teeth, determined not to let his trainer see the pain that he was causing, determined not to let his teacher win. But he could feel bruises forming on his back, and the pain was getting more and more unbearable.

Suddenly, an odd feeling crept over him. Perhaps it was triggered by the pain, perhaps it was desperation, and perhaps it was something else entirely – he never would know for certain – but without thinking, without knowing what he was doing or why, he reached out, his movements lightning-fast, and grabbed his trainer behind the knee, the same place where he himself had been kicked.

Koya had not been expecting that at all, and his knee buckled and he lost his balance. As he fell, Mailon jumped to his feet, his hands reaching for the staff and grabbing it without him realizing where. He didn’t bother trying to grab it away from Koya, but with all his strength he jabbed it forward into his trainer’s face. There was a crunch as his trainer’s nose broke, and in the man’s surprise and pain his fingers loosened their grip. Mailon whipped the staff out of his hands and whirled it around, clouting Koya with all his strength at the base of his skull. Then he twirled away from his trainer and held the staff  along his arm behind him, his other hand in front of him, feet spread for balance. All of this happened in the space of a few seconds, before Koya had even hit the ground … and Mailon had absolutely no idea where it had come from.

For a moment, the two stared at each other. Koya’s face was entirely expressionless, and Mailon stared right back at him defiantly, though on the inside his heart was racing like a rabbit being chased. What would be the consequence of his actions? Surely, no one had ever dared to strike their trainer like that before …

Finally, Koya rose, two fingers to his nose to try to stem the flow of blood, his eyes still fixed on Mailon.

“Lawbreaker,” he growled at length. “You were not to have touched any weapons before coming here.”

“I didn’t,” Mailon replied, his eyes narrowing slightly. “I’ve never touched a staff before in my life.” Then, as an afterthought, he added, “Sir.”

Koya continued to stare at him, and then he wiped his nose with his arm and turned away from him. “Come here,” he ordered. “Leave the staff.”

Mailon had learned his lesson, though. He would not relinquish the staff until he had another weapon in his hand, or some reassurance that Koya would not attack him again. The other students stepped out of the way, giving their master and the new student as much space as they could.

“Choose a sword,” Koya commanded him suddenly, stepping aside and showing him a rack of blades.

Keeping the staff in one hand just in case, Mailon picked up a blade at a time, testing them in his hands to see if there would be one that would feel the best in his hand, just as he had found a good staff without knowing what to look for. It took five tries, but at last he did find one: a long, thin blade that balanced nicely in his hand. Only when he felt ready did he toss the staff aside, out of Koya’s reach, and then he turned to face his trainer.

He was startled by the triumphant look on Koya’s face, and it took a moment for him to realize that his master was not looking at him, but at his grip on the sword.

“You’ll never hit me holding it like that,” Koya chuckled gleefully.

Mailon’s eyes narrowed. “Watch me,” he growled back at his master.

Koya drew his own blade from his sheath, a long, thick, waved blade. It looked dangerous, even in the near blackness, but light from the torches that lined the area reflected off the metal, making it flicker teasingly.

Mailon could see how his master was holding his sword differently than he himself, and he tried to shift his grip to be more like Koya’s; but it didn’t feel right to him, and he reverted back to his original grip.

The students around the outside of the area started murmuring to each other. Mailon could only make out bits and pieces of what they were saying.

“… he’s going to kill him …”

“… what’s he playing at? …”

“… is he mad? …”

He glared at his trainer. He had already lost his respect for the man, and at this point was intent only on showing him that he wasn’t going to sit there and take it when the man decided to take out his anger on him. Ignoring the children, he focused on his trainer. He wasn’t sure what he was looking for, but if things kept going as they were – surprising as they were – he had a feeling that it would go well for him. And who knew? Maybe if he proved himself today, he wouldn’t have to continue with this ‘training’.

It was Koya who made the first move, and Mailon responded without thought. As the tall man brought his blade down in an overhead swing, Mailon sidestepped and thrust his blade at Koya’s belly. The man saw the movement just in time to step back, but he didn’t avoid it entirely: he couldn’t stop the gasp that escaped his lips as the smaller, lighter blade pierced his flesh and he began to bleed.

“I’ve hit you, sir,” Mailon said quietly, holding the blade in a defensive position. “Shall we stop?”

Koya put one hand to his wound, then raised his hand near his face to look at it. There was quite a bit of blood on it, and he put his hand back to his wound to try to stem the flow.

“Not on your life,” he snarled, a new fury burning in his eyes. He attacked Mailon again, this time with a thrust, and once more Mailon sidestepped it and got in another one of his own, this time piercing his trainer’s shoulder, deeper than the first hit had been. Again Koya gasped in pain and surprise, and this time he stayed back and eyed Mailon suspiciously.

“Lawbreaker!” he accused the boy again, sounding weaker this time.

“I’ve never touched a weapon before today, on my life!” Mailon vowed, though even he admitted to himself that it would be difficult to believe, if he didn’t know any better.

“On your life it will be, then!” Koya roared; and this time when he attacked he used a series of attacks, no longer trying to teach, but intent on murdering the boy. Mailon had to move far more quickly to avoid the blows, but he wasn’t in charge of his body. It was doing its own thing, dodging, blocking, parrying, thrusting, swinging – everything that needed to be done, it did, and he didn’t feel as if he had any control over himself at all.

Then the next thing he knew, his trainer was on the ground, his sword out of his hand, and he wasn’t moving. It was silent. He stared at Koya, his heart pounding, and it was a few minutes before he was aware that the other students were still there and also staring in silence. Then the first whisper could be heard:

“Is he … dead?”

It took only the one whisper, and then all of the children were murmuring to each other. At length, one of them gathered the courage to poke at the fallen Koya, and then turn him over.

The man was dead.

Mailon felt sick to his stomach. Not an hour away from home, and he had murdered his trainer, the man whom he had looked up to for so long. The man he had so looked forward to learning from. Working with. Training with.

His head swam, and he fell to his hands and knees and threw up. Even after his breakfast was gone, his stomach kept heaving, and it was a while before he could stand. He wiped his mouth clean with the back of his hand, then picked up the sword he had used. He had a feeling that someone would be looking for him soon, and he had no intention of being caught weaponless again, easy prey for anyone who wanted to attack him.

“Mailon.”

Mailon whirled around, sword gripped tightly in his hand, and looked for the source of the voice that had spoken his name. He saw a tall, ghostly figure approaching, followed by one of the children who had seen the fight, and he tightened his grip on the sword, preparing to defend himself if he had to.

“Peace,” the tall figure murmured, holding out both hands to show that he was not holding any weapons. “Do you know who I am, Mailon?”

Mailon forced himself to focus, and when he did, he was able to see the details of the man’s face. He swallowed hard, wishing he had some water to rinse the taste of bile out of his mouth. “Lord Hathal,” he said, kneeling on one knee to show his respect.

The tall man nodded. “Indeed. Mailon, are you aware of what you have just done?”

Mailon’s mouth went dry, and he nodded. He had murdered his trainer. He had made himself a murderer. He had made himself a criminal.

“You are the first person in decades, aside from myself, to win against Koya,” Lord Hathal went on. “That is quite something. And I’m told it is only your tenth birthday. That means that this is your first time ever using a weapon, is it not?”

Mailon nodded, not daring to look up. But it didn’t sound as if he was in trouble …

The city’s leader looked past Mailon at the body that lay on the ice. “I never did like him,” he mused. “And now his position is open. Mailon, look at me.”

Mailon forced himself to look up at the lord. “Yes, my lord?” he asked, licking his lips and wishing again for some water to rinse his mouth.

The tall, pale man smiled at him. “How would you like to take his job?”

Mailon blinked, unsure if he had heard correctly. “Me? Become the town’s trainer?” he repeated incredulously.

Lord Hathal chuckled. “Yes. Unbelievable as it may sound, young as you are, you are incredibly skilled. You have earned the position. What do you say?”

Mailon stared for a moment, questioning whether it might be a trick … but he couldn’t think of why the lord of the town would want to trick him. Slowly, he nodded. He knew what an honour it was.

“Yes, my lord,” he said, allowing himself to smile. “I would be honoured. Thank you.”


Last edited by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 12:54 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: A Life of Repentance | 28 868 / 3366 3A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:01 pm

Location: Tal En’Khalek, Jielam
Year: 28 868 (3366 Third Age)
Status: 55 Winter

By the time Mailon returned home that evening, he was exhausted. He had spent the whole day working with the other children, many of whom were older than him, teaching them things that logically he should not have known. And yet he did. He knew it all, as truly and as instinctively as he knew his own name. But he had done it without eating, and without even the benefit of the breakfast he had eaten that morning, as he had lost it when he’d been sick after killing Koya. And despite his knowledge, his innate skill with the weapons, his body was not used to so much abuse, and he dragged his feet as he returned home, his shoulders slumped, fingers in a vise-grip around the staff that he no longer felt safe without.

“Oh, Mailon!” his mother gasped when he came through the door. “You’re covered in bruises!”

And he was. His legs and back were so bruised that his skin was almost entirely black rather than white.

She rushed over to help him, but Mailon stiffened up and pushed her away. “Don’t touch me,” he muttered. He still had not shed any tears from the beating he had taken that morning, but he knew that if he allowed his mother to coddle him, he would cry. And that, now more than ever, was something that he could not afford.

His mother had tears in her eyes, and it was clear that she wanted to hold him, but she listened to him. He had changed since that morning, she knew, and she knew that it was because of his training, and she also knew that she would never again have the same relationship with her son that she’d had up to that point.

“You’re back,” his father’s voice came from the doorway to the next room. “Come here and let me look at you.”

Mailon straightened up and stood facing his father, his back straight, chest thrust forward, hands tight around his staff, just as he had stood for Koya that morning – only now, when his father circled him, he kept an eye on him – just in case.

Of course, his father made no move to touch Mailon. Instead, when he saw how bruised the boy’s back was, he let out a low whistle. “Wow … he really worked you over,” he murmured. Then he smiled encouragingly at his son. “Don’t worry, by the time he’s finished training you, he won’t be able to touch you.”

“He already can’t,” Mailon said softly.

His father blinked, and his brow furrowed in confusion. “But … your back …”

Mailon swallowed hard. “That was before I knew I was allowed to defend myself. Now … now he’ll never touch anyone again.”

The crease in his father’s brow grew deeper. “I don’t understand.”

“He’s not the trainer anymore.” Mailon took a deep breath and look his father square in the eye. “I am. He’s dead. I killed him.”

His father was silent for a moment, his emotions playing out over his face: shock, surprise, and finally, pride.

“Good for you,” he grinned. He stepped forward and moved as if to put one hand on Mailon’s shoulder, but Mailon sidestepped the touch. His father chuckled. “I always knew you’d be a quick study.”

Mailon shook his head. “I wasn’t, Papa,” he said quietly. “He didn’t teach me anything except to never let go of my weapon or leave myself exposed. I just … knew. All of it. All the weapons. He was hitting me and then … and then I was beating him. I don’t know what I was doing. I mean, I knew what I was doing, but I didn’t know how, and he wouldn’t let me stop. He was going to kill me, Papa.”

“And you beat him to it!” His father’s pride was evident both on his face and in his voice. “That’s fantastic!”

Mailon forced himself to smile, but he didn’t feel fantastic. He felt sick, tired, sore and hungry – not necessarily in that order.

“Come on, son,” his mother murmured, coming up behind him. “Go soak for a while and I’ll make a feast for you. This is something to celebrate!”
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Re: A Life of Repentance | 28 868 / 3366 3A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:01 pm

Location: Tal En’Khalek, Jielam
Year: 28 875 (3373 Third Age)
Status: 18 Spring

Time had been good to Mailon. Now sixteen years old, he had spent the last six years training the people of his town, and he had found – to his curiosity and relief – that no matter what weapon he had picked up, he had had the same innate knowledge of how to use it. He had also spent the time training himself, toning his body, working himself harder than he ever did any of his students. He worked until he could run endlessly without tiring, until he was well-muscled … until he was the fastest and the strongest, which in turn developed his mind.

He had not, of course, trained only his body during those six years, either. At the end of each day, so often exhausted by his training, Mailon would go to the home of Kerchi’im, who tutored many of the people, and he would lean about many things: numbers, letters, reading, writing, history, geography, medicine … he even, from time to time, was treated to a lesson about politics. For the most part it was simple: anyone who wanted to be in charge could challenge the current chief, and if the challenger won he became the new chief. If he lost, he died. Politics for other countries were more complicated, and he only paid minor attention to it.

For the most part, things were generally the same in Tal En’Khalek. Seasons passed, children were born, people died – starved in the winter months, when food was scarce; killed in some dispute or other, or trying to make themselves chief – and for Mailon, the routine was comforting. He didn’t feel that he had to worry for his life: he had no intention of becoming chief, and he treated his students fairly, only beating them when they deserved it, and never going too far with it.

In truth, he was highly respected, not only for his skill, but also for the way he treated other people. In this kill-or-be-killed society, he had, for the most part, managed to avoid both sides of the equation, except when he had absolutely no choice, and he always looked out for the good of others rather than their hurt.

At least, that was what he thought.

“There’s a stranger coming, there’s a stranger coming!”

One of Mailon’s young students was running up the path towards the training area early in the morning, pointing back behind him and shouting at the tops of his lungs.

“Master, master! There’s a stranger coming!” he was shouting. His pale eyes were bright with excitement.

Mailon picked up the staff he had just taken in his hands and looked at the young boy. “A stranger?” he repeated. “What sort of stranger?”

“He’s – he’s not like us!” The boy slid to a stop on the ice in front of Mailon and doubled over, breathing hard. “He’s – he’s all weird-looking,” he panted. “All – muddy – but that’s – not right – because there’s no mud except – when it’s summer – and it’s – still – the middle – of spring!”

Mailon was instantly curious – and he was not the only one. The boy’s shouts had attracted the attention of all sorts of people, and there was a crowd in the street now.

“Well, it’s none of our business,” he told the boy. “Now get your staff. It’s time to train. Go warm up.”

The boy ran off to join the others that Mailon was training. Mailon gave the street one quick glance before he went off to join them.

Early in the morning, it was mostly the very young that he worked with – the ten and eleven year olds, mostly, though there were a few twelve year olds who hadn’t graduated to the next level. He moved among them, correcting grips, clouting a few heads of boys who were being lazy or sloppy, and nodding approval at a few of them. Very soon, though, the proclaimed stranger appeared on the street. The students were distracted by him, and began murmuring amongst themselves.

“Back to work,” Mailon ordered them, using his staff to get the attention of a few who didn’t seem to have heard him.

For the most part, they obeyed, and Mailon took a moment to inspect the stranger for himself. He had never seen anyone who was not a White Elf before, and he was fascinated. The man coming down the street was dressed in cloth, something else Mailon had never seen, and it was dyed the most extravagant of colours. It made no sense to Mailon … part of the beauty of the furs that his people wore was the fact that they, like the colour of their skin and hair, helped the people to blend them into the snow and ice on which they lived. But in addition to the odd clothes, the man’s skin and hair were, as his student had told him, mud-brown, and when he came closer, Mailon could see that even his eyes were the same mud-brown.

“I look for you chief,” the stranger announced suddenly in a loud voice, halting in the middle of the street and holding up one hand to get peoples’ attention. “Bring me him, if please.”

Some of the children snickered at the man’s use of their language, but Mailon silenced them with a glare. Someone would take care of him, he knew.

Sure enough, one of the village men stepped forward to take the brown elf to the chief’s home. It was spring, so the people were no longer living in their homes of ice, but in houses of furs draped over wooden frames. The chief’s home was only a few houses away, so it Mailon was able to keep an eye on the man’s progress. It wasn’t long before he arrived – and it was only a few moments longer before there was a shout from that house and the man ran back out into the street, chased by the chief and two others.

Unite our people?!” The chief was shouting so loudly that the children stopped their training to watch what was going on – and Mailon didn’t lecture them. “You tell your elders that we have no desire to sully our blood with that of your filth!”

This was more than enough for the men who were still milling about, waiting to see what was going on. One of them shouted, and then over a dozen of them pulled out their weapons and pounced on the traveler. Above the screams and the blows, the shouts of “Keep the race pure!” and “Filth of the earth!” could be heard. The children pushed each other out of the way, each of them trying to get a good view of what was happening.

“Get ’im!” several of them shouted eagerly, egging on the mob in the street. “Kill ’im! Get rid of ’im!”

Mailon watched in silence, his fingers tight around his staff. The fool … had he really expected that the mighty White Elves would ever condescend to join themselves with anyone else? Sully their purity? Bestow on others the gifts, the blessings, that had been bestowed upon them?

Then, as suddenly as it had begun, it was over, and the crowd dispersed, leaving the traveler’s bloody body in the street for all to see.

The children began to murmur amongst themselves. “Is he dead?” “Did they kill him?” “That was fantastic!”

Suddenly the brown man’s hand began to move – first a twitch of the fingers, and then his fingers curled into a fist. Slowly, every movement showing the pain he was in, the man pushed himself onto his hands and knees. He spit, and blood spattered the ground; and then he tried to crawl forward, wobbling and shaking, nearly falling over.

“Master Mailon,” asked one of his students – one of the younger ones, a quick learner; “shall we go and finish him off?”

Mailon fixed his gaze on the boy, his eyes cold and hard. “No,” he said softly. “There is punishment, and there is slaughter. Punishment is merited. Slaughter is weakness on the part of the attacker. There is no honour in it.”

The boy frowned at Mailon, and Mailon suddenly remembered what he was supposed to be doing.

“Back to work,” he told them all, focusing on his students once more. He also rejoined the training, though secretly, out of the corner of his eye, he kept checking on the stranger. The brown elf kept moving very slowly, barely moving, ignored by all who passed him by, until at last he collapsed next to one of the homes and didn’t move again.
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Re: A Life of Repentance | 28 868 / 3366 3A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:01 pm

Location: Tal En’Khalek, Jielam
Year: 28 875 (3373 Third Age)
Status: 18 Spring

After his students had gone home for the evening, Mailon found himself too curious about the stranger and the details about what had happened exactly and why, and rather than going home himself, he stopped at the chief’s home to ask about it.

The chief, a man of less than one hundred years old, was in the middle of his dinner when Mailon arrived, and he beckoned for the trainer to join him at his meal.

“What brings you here?” he asked in a grunt, motioning for his wife to bring more food.

Mailon sat on the ground, cross-legged as usual, and looked evenly at the chief. “The brown elf that came here today. Why did he come?” He was, as usual, brief and straight to the point. He had never seen the point of beating around the bush and wasting time, and that was something he knew the chief appreciated about him – along with the fact that he wasn’t a threat to the chief’s position.

The chief eyed Mailon. “What’s the matter?” he grinned. “You didn’t approve of how he was dealt with?”

“Of course,” Mailon chuckled. “But I just find it hard to believe that they would want to mix their blood with ours … it is an insult to us, indeed, and an unforgiveable one at that, but … I can’t see why they would want to dilute their own blood, either. They also are a proud people, are they not?”

“They are,” the chief nodded, “but they are also a desperate people. They are at war.” He spit out a bone before he continued with his meal. “No, I don’t think he wanted his people and ours to mingle like that … if he’d said that out loud, I’d have taken his head myself. He just wanted our people to help his people in the war.”

He spit again, this time to prove a point. “It’s none of our business if they want to slaughter themselves or each other.”

Mailon nodded his agreement. The White Elves kept to themselves, and it was his opinion that the other races should do the same. “But why were you talking then about not uniting our countries?” he asked curiously. “I mean, if that’s not what he was after …”

“It’s always a result of war,” the chief interrupted him with a scowl. “You bring people together, and it will happen. It’s inevitable.” He reached across the table and put one hand on Mailon’s shoulder. “You’re still young,” he said, nodding wisely, “but you’ll learn. You’ll see for yourself. The only way to prevent people from dirtying our people is to cut them down where they stand. Mark my words.” He wagged his finger in Mailon’s face. “You give them an inch, and they’ll take a mile. Let them in our towns, and they’ll take over the place, leaving half-blooded bastards behind them.”

Mailon nodded again. “I understand,” he replied, putting his hand atop the chief’s. “You are indeed very wise. Thank you.”

The chief’s wife still hadn’t returned with more food for Mailon, and rather than waiting, he left. He had the answers he was looking for.

But it still didn’t explain why he felt so thoughtful about the death he had witnessed that day. It hadn’t been anything new, but it had left him with a whirling mind.

Well, he mused, perhaps a good night’s sleep would remedy that.
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Re: A Life of Repentance | 28 868 / 3366 3A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:02 pm

Location: Tal En’Khalek, Jielam
Year: 28 883 (3381 Third Age)
Status: 6 Summer

Mailon had lived a relatively calm life, especially in comparison to the rest of his people. For fourteen years now he had taught the children to fight and use weapons, but the village had gone through close to twenty chiefs. The current chief showed promise of lasting more than a few months, though: he had only had two attempts on his life, and he hadn’t even broken a sweat defending himself. Many people had urged Mailon to try for the position, but it didn’t interest him. Instead, he became the person that the chiefs turned to for guidance in their new positions.

One evening as Mailon was ushering the last of the children home from training, Mailon was surprised to see Túrthogor, the current chief, approaching him.

“Evening, Mailon,” the chief greeted him with a shrewd smile. “Got some time?”

Mailon eyed the chief and nodded. With the sun not setting for another fourteen weeks or so, he wasn’t concerned about when he would get to sleep. And even if the position of chief was the most fickle position in the village, it was also the most authoritative, and it would not be wise to turn him down without good reason – which at the moment he did not have.

“Come in,” he told Túrthogor, turning towards his house. He led the chief inside. After fourteen years, he had a permanent dwelling rather than the huts that the rest of the village put up year after year, and it served him well even in the frozen winter weeks. Once inside, he offered the chief some of the seal meat that had been left over from his lunch. “What can I help you with?”

Túrthogor took a seat on a chair and faced Mailon. “You know of course about the turnover rate for chiefs in our village,” he began.

Mailon nodded silently. Yes, he knew.

The chief continued. “You’ve been learning from the previous chiefs for as long as I can remember, and you probably know more than anyone alive about how to run the village. Yet you’ve never tried for the position. Why?”

Mailon shrugged. “I have no interest in constantly looking over my shoulder,” he replied simply. “I’m content with my life.”

“Good.” The chief grinned. “I’m glad to hear it. Then I have a request for you.”

Again, Mailon nodded.

“I need you to help me,” Túrthogor explained. “I need you to be my advisor. It’s not all the time, but just when I need advice and such. And of course if you know of anyone who wants to take my position, well …” He grinned shrewdly again. “I could make it well worth your while to give me a heads up. Or even to take care of the matter for me.”

“Worth my while?” Mailon repeated, genuinely surprised. “What could you possibly offer me that I would want that I don’t already have? I have already told you, I am content with my life.”

“Huh,” the chief grunted. “That’s true …” He looked around to see what kinds of things Mailon might like. Unfortunately for him, there wasn’t much to look at: a simple bed with a single bearskin fur on it, a table, a few chairs, and a collection of weapons lining one wall.

He pursed his lips thoughtfully, tapping his fingertips on the table. Mailon watched him in silence for a few minutes, and at length he sighed and sat across from the chief.

“Look,” he said tiredly, “I’m sick of all these changes of authority. I don’t think I’m any more eager for another change than you are. I’ll help you, just to avoid another turn over. I don’t want anything in exchange other than to be left out of the chaos.”

The chief grinned smugly. “Yeah, I think I can handle that.” He rose from his seat and held his hand out to Mailon, who shook it. “Then I’ll be calling on you when I need you.”

Mailon looked at the man evenly. “You know where to find me. Now if you don’t mind.” He nodded towards the door.

With a chuckle, Túrthogor left.
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Re: A Life of Repentance | 28 868 / 3366 3A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:02 pm

Location: Tal En’Khalek, Jielam
Year: 28 893 (3391 Third Age)
Status: 29 Stirring

For ten years, Mailon helped Túrthogor to lead the village and kept his ear to the ground to stop others from attacking him, and after he stopped the first three attempts to take over, people got the message to stop trying. It was the longest time any one person had been chief in anyone’s memory, but rather than being troubled by it, it had brought the village prosperity, since people were worrying about making conditions better rather than about simply keeping alive.

Mailon’s life had also changed, though not by much. He still had not become interested in any women, and he was still training the children and advising the chief, but he had, a few years previous, decided to take a day off every week to relax on his own. At first, people had questioned his dedication, but they had soon discovered that giving the children the day of rest had actually helped them to learn more quickly as well. On his day off, he would sometimes go to the ocean and swim, sometimes hunt, and sometimes he would just visit his parents and rest.

Today was one of those days. He was on his way out of his home, intending to do some ice fishing, but when he left his house he was surprised (and mildly annoyed) to find the chief about to come in.

“Can this wait?” he asked without considering the wisdom of his words. “It’s my day off, you know that.”

“No, it can’t,” Túrthogor retorted, sounding equally irritated. He grabbed Mailon’s shoulder and pulled him back into the house. “Get in here.”

Mailon followed, his arms folded across his chest, and he glared at the chief. “You seem to forget what you owe me,” he said shortly. “The fact that you are alive and ruler is due to me, after all.”

“I’m well aware of that, don’t you worry,” Túrthogor snorted. “But this is an emergency. This time it’s the humans in Kelibrae! They seem to feel that we owe them help for some reason! You’re the only one I can trust, I need you to bring a message back to their leader and tell them to solve their own problems!”

Mailon remained calm, though his eyes were blazing. “And why should I go?” he asked quietly. “I have already done more than my share and have received nothing for it, not even the rest I was promised.”

“Don’t blame me!” Túrthogor slammed his fist down on the table. “If those blasted humans could solve their own troubles I wouldn’t have to ask you this, but they just can’t keep to themselves! And you’re the only one I can trust, anyone else would just go off and do their own thing. You, I know, would do this for me and for the village.”

Mailon clenched his jaw and breathed slowly to keep his temper in check. “And I suppose I must leave now?”

The chief nodded. “As soon as you can. I’ve already arranged for someone else to take over teaching the kids, so don’t worry about it. I know I owe you, Mailon, but I need you for this.”

Mailon sighed. “If I must.”
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Re: A Life of Repentance | 28 868 / 3366 3A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:03 pm

Location: A few miles inside the Kelibrae border
Year: 28 894 (3392 Third Age)
Status: 8 Spring

For Mailon, travel had never been something he had thought about. Certainly, he had never dreamed about it. He had never desired to leave his village. Yes, his existence there had been very … routine, and quite unexciting, but he had never sought out excitement. If he had, he might have tried to become the chief of his village. But he had been happy with his life, content simply to teach the children and keep to himself.

And yet, now that he was out on the road (so to speak, there weren’t any actual roads between Jielam and Kelibrae), he was finding the time alone quite nice. In fact, he was rather enjoying the trip. Yes, he was going to tell off the human ruler and try to convince him to keep the White Elves out of their issues with the Earth Elves, but even that didn’t dampen his spirits. It was peaceful, traveling by himself, and he knew that once he returned home to his occupation, he would once again long for this kind of peace and quiet. And solitude – he would miss the solitude the most. It was quite easy to forget about Túrthogor and the constant fights for the chiefdom of the village and everything else that went along with it. He had never liked the violence his society so highly valued and he had never agreed that killing someone showed that you were the stronger or better person. Out here, it didn’t matter one whit.

Since he was so far north, Kelibrae so far didn’t seem so different from Jielam. Ice and snow were melting, grass was starting to grow in patches, and animals appeared at regular intervals.

Suddenly he heard something rustling in the trees nearby, and he nocked an arrow in case it should prove to be something threatening.

“Is someone there?” he called out. His heart was racing. He had not yet met anyone on the Kelibrae side of the border between the human country and his own, and it had been a few days since he had left his own country behind.

Just when he was about to chalk the noise he’d heard up to his imagination, a human man stepped forward from behind a tree. Sandy blond hair was brushed aside from his face, and he sported a short beard. The man had a sword drawn. He called something out to Mailon in his own language, and Mailon understood just enough to know that the man was asking what he wanted.

He struggled to think of how properly to reply in the man’s language. He had learned a bit of it, but not much.

I … look for city,” he said haltingly, the language feeling strange in his mouth. “Look for king. Message.

The man looked as if he was considering whether or not he ought to help Mailon.

Your king ask,” Mailon added impatiently.

The human continued to stare at him disinterestedly. “Uh huh.

Suddenly Mailon realized that the man wasn’t staring at him, but past him. He whirled around to see what the man was looking at – but too late. He caught a blow to the head that sent him reeling. It took him by surprise – no one had managed that since the first day of his training, back on his tenth birthday. It took him a few moments to recover from it, and by that time, he’d taken a few more blows. Blood trickled into his eyes, burning them, but he forced himself to ignore it. Blows rained down on his head and shoulders, and he raised his hands to block them. He was lying on his back, and he used it to his advantage to kick out at some of his attackers. He caught one of them on the jaw, another in the chest, and both of them went flying. Then he pushed himself to his feet and drew his curved swords, one in each hand. In a matter of seconds, his attackers were on the ground, dead – all but the one who had distracted him. That man had run off, leaving his friends behind to save his own skin.

Mailon stood for a moment, listening, breathing heavily, pain dulling his senses – until his strength gave out and he lost consciousness.
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Re: A Life of Repentance | 28 868 / 3366 3A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:03 pm

Location: A few miles inside the Kelibrae border
Year: 28 894 (3392 Third Age)
Status: 9 Spring

Two things roused Mailon from the darkness. The first was water trickling down his forehead, and the second was the sensation of something moving around in his pockets. He tried to open his eyes, but he couldn’t: they were sealed shut by something thick and sticky. He tried to force it, and pain shot through his entire body, making him gasp softly.

The movement in his pockets stopped, and Mailon cracked his eyes open just in time to see someone running off through a red haze. With a start, he realized that it was blood in his eyes – his blood. He closed his eyes again and reached for his canteen, which was thankfully still tied to his belt. It took a bit of effort to unscrew the top, but he managed it, and he poured water on his eyes and rubbed them gently with the backs of his hands. When he could see again, he looked around. Most of his things had disappeared while he’d been unconscious, and all that were left were his canteen, his bow and quiver – probably because he’d been lying on them, he reasoned – a small blade that had been hidden inside the sleeve of his shirt, and his wooden staff, which had fallen beneath a nearby bush and was fairly well hidden. His bag, swords and supplies were all gone.

He cursed to himself and sat up slowly. And these humans had thought that the White Elves would help them in their constant skirmishes with the Earth Elves? Did they contain any whit of intelligence at all? Why had they even attacked him? Just because he was a White Elf? What kind of reason was that?

A wave of nausea rolled over him, and he leaned forward and lowered his head, breathing deeply to try to clear it. As he knelt there, panting softly, eyes closed, he suddenly recalled the incident almost twenty years before, when the Earth Elf had come to their village. Mailon had simply watched while that man had also been beaten for no reason aside from that he was not like the White Elves, that he had not been born among them.

His eyes grew wide. Was that what he thought, too? That it was fine to kill others for not being like him, but that they had no right to touch him because he was not like them? What kind of reasoning was that?

Once the nausea passed, he staggered to his feet. His body was still weak, but his mind was filled with resolve: he had to return home and speak with Túrthogor and the other villagers. Things there needed to change. They wouldn’t like it, he knew, but at least they would give him a chance to speak, seeing as he was the most respected man in the village. Perhaps they would even listen to him. He couldn’t say for sure. But he knew that he had to try.
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Re: A Life of Repentance | 28 868 / 3366 3A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:04 pm

Location: Tal En’Khalek, Jielam
Year: 28 894 (3392 Third Age)
Status: 1 Summer

By the time Mailon had recovered from his injuries enough to travel, nearly a week had passed, and even then his travel was very slow. In the end, it took him nearly a full month to return home. It was odd how the sight of his village didn’t make him feel any better. Over the course of his journey, he had had quite a bit of time to think.

How old was Jielam? he wondered. He knew he could state quite factually that his people had always been as they are now: proud to the point of foolish, murderers both of themselves and anyone not fortunate enough to be born in their country … and how many thousands of years had that been going on? Did he seriously think he was going to make a difference, speaking to Túrthogor? Did he honestly believe that he would stop the killing that was the White Elves’ way of life?

No, he didn’t. If he was honest, he was fully expecting everyone to try to kill him to get him to shut up. But at least this time, he was prepared: this time, he would be ready to defend himself. But he couldn’t just leave. He had to at least try. And who knew? Túrthogor had always listened to him before, perhaps by some miracle the chief would actually pay attention to what he had to say.

He just had to make sure that he used the right words.

And words had never been his strong point.

When he caught first sight of his village in the distance, it was early morning. The sun had not set that night, as it never did in the summer, and though he was exhausted, he was also glad that the extra light meant that he could travel through the night, when there were at least fewer people and animals active. He was going to have to plan this strategically if he was to have any chance of survival. He knew that he would need weapons on hand when he spoke to the people, and he would need energy.

Well, no one would fault him for resting before reporting, would they?

He made his way to his house, and when no one spotted him on the way, he was beyond grateful. He crawled into his bed and fell asleep immediately.

He woke some time later when a child’s voice in his doorway shouted, “The master is back! The master is back!”

Mailon groaned and rubbed his face with both hands. He felt somewhat rested, definitely more awake, but he still didn’t have energy. He sighed and sat up. In a matter of minutes, he knew, the chief and possibly some others would be coming to his house, demanding answers.

Well, he would have to face them eventually.

He had just had the opportunity to drink some water and nibble on some stale bread when he heard Túrthogor’s voice outside his door.

“Mailon!” the chief called, and a moment later his body followed his voice into the door. Túrthogor grinned when he saw Mailon and stepped inside completely. “Oh, good, you’re awake.”

“Not much choice in the matter,” Mailon croaked, his voice cracking. It had been a long time since he had used it. “Between that kid and you, I don’t think I’m allowed to rest.”

“Rest?” The chief snorted. “Come on, it’s you. Why would you need more rest?”

Fueled by exhaustion, hunger, dehydration, pain and a sense of deep injustice, Mailon’s temper flared.

“Because I just spent a month traveling back here after being beaten nearly to death to bring a message on your behalf and I haven’t slept or eaten or rested since then and if I don’t get to eat and sleep before I have to deal with people, then those around me are going so suffer, and that includes you!” he snapped. He picked up a small dagger that was lying near his bedside and held it threateningly in the chief’s direction. “Now get out and keep everyone away from here until I am good and ready to come out!”

The chief was completely speechless – and terrified. Mailon could see him quaking, and he could understand why. This was the first time in his life that Mailon had ever felt this angry – actually, that he had felt angry at all – and it was the first time that he had ever raised a weapon with the intent to actually threaten someone.

He had to wait only a moment before the chief straightened up, lowering his hands. “All right then,” he said, trying to sound as if he were the one in control of the situation. “I’ll be back to check on you in a few days, if you haven’t come to see me first.”

Mailon waited and watched as the chief left, and the moment he was alone, he slid the dagger under his pillow, keeping his fingers wrapped around the hilt, lay down, and went back to sleep, this time confident that he would have the necessary strength and energy when the time came to use them.
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Re: A Life of Repentance | 28 868 / 3366 3A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:05 pm

Location: Tal En’Khalek, Jielam
Year: 28 894 (3392 Third Age)
Status: 3 Summer

Two days had passed since Mailon had arrived at his home again, and though he did not see anyone while he recuperated from his trip, every time he awoke, he found fresh meals waiting for him on his table. Thanks to this, he had almost fully recovered after those two days, and now he was preparing to meet with Túrthogor to report on how his trip had gone.

At least, that was what Túrthogor thought. And he was right, in part. But what he didn’t know was that Mailon was planning a lot more than a simple report.

Mailon was certain that he would be forced out of the town after his speech, and he wanted to be ready. He made sure that there was a bag by the door before he left. In it were a few flasks of water, a change of clothing, things to care for his weapons, and as much food as he could fit. He made sure he replaced the weapons he had lost, and when he went to speak with the chief, he was once again wearing two curved swords, a brace of throwing knives, a dagger on each side, and a quiver of arrows; and in one hand he held his bow, and in the other his staff.

He had no intention of dying to make his point, after all.

But at length he headed over to the chief’s tent. Túrthogor was napping when he arrived, but his wife woke him and brought him to speak with Mailon.

“You look armed to the teeth, Mailon,” the chief grunted as he took a seat across from Mailon. “Expecting a brawl?”

Mailon watched the man expressionlessly. “Lessons learned long ago have been refreshed for me,” he said evenly. “And I suppose it’s too late to remind you that we had an agreement, you and I, which you have seen fit to break.”

At Túrthogor’s confused look, Mailon narrowed his eyes. “That I would watch your back and keep you in power in exchange for being left alone,” he reminded him. “And despite that, you sent me on that fool’s journey, and as soon as I was back you were in my house, telling me that I did not need food or rest. So you have broken your part of the agreement.”

He felt a sense of grim satisfaction as he watched the chief’s eyes fill with fear at the implication. He had no obligation to keep his part of the deal anymore, and Túrthogor was no longer safe.

“But that’s not why I’m here,” he added, leaning back and waving one hand dismissively. He saw the chief let out a sigh of relief. “I’m here to tell you about my trip.”

The chief nodded. “So tell me about it.”

Mailon smiled grimly. “I never made it to their king. I was ambushed when I asked for directions.”

“I hope you killed them all,” the chief growled, scowling.

“All but one,” Mailon nodded. Then he leaned forward. “It took me a long time to get back here, Túrthogor, and that time gave me a lot of time to think.”

“Think? About what?”

“About why I was attacked.” Mailon pushed himself to his feet and began to pace, agitated once again. “Túrthogor, they ambushed me even after I told them that I was a messenger to their king. They did it simply because I’m a White Elf. Because I wasn’t born in the same country as them.”

The chief spit and swore. “Bastards!”

“What makes us any different?” Mailon demanded, his temper flaring suddenly. “Don’t you remember that Earth Elf that came here years ago? We did the same thing to him! And why? Because he wasn’t one of us, because he was born somewhere else! Answer me this, Túrthogor: What makes us better than anyone else? Fortune? The fact that we were born here rather than anywhere else? Does that give us the right to kill anyone we please?”

He was aware, in the sudden silence, of how threatening he must look to the chief at the moment. His fists were clenched at his sides, his nostrils flaring, and he was aware that he was glaring. Túrthogor seemed equally surprised and angry, his fingers whiter than usual as he gripped the edges of the table as if trying to control himself, his own eyes wide.

For several minutes, the two men glared at each other in silence. Mailon could feel his pulse racing, his heart pounding in his chest, but he was not going to back down. He had been preparing himself for this moment since he had come to his realization.

“And are you saying that we should not defend ourselves?” the chief asked at length, though he still didn’t move.

Mailon snorted. “Are you mad? Of course I’m not. I’m just saying there’s no reason to kill anyone who isn’t presenting themselves as a threat to us. That’s all.”

Túrthogor nodded and slowly let go of the table. “And I suppose next you’re going to say that we should start breeding with them all, too,” he snarled.

Mailon could hear the threat in the chief’s voice, and he moved one foot back, taking a defensive stance. “Of course not,” he replied, carefully keeping his tone neutral. “Only that we don’t have to keep killing without cause.”

“And let them take over our lands?” the chief growled, rising slowly to his feet.

“No.” Mailon shook his head, keeping his eyes on the other man. “Like I said, all I’m talking about is not killing them without cause.”

“Traitor!” Túrthogor snarled, leaping for a knife that was on a table at the side of the room. “I should have known better than to have sent you!”

“Yes, you should have!” Mailon agreed, drawing his swords. “Now stop this, you know you can’t beat me in a fight and I have no desire to kill you.”

He ducked to the side as Túrthogor took a swing at him with the dagger and held his swords in front of himself defensively.

“I told you I don’t want to kill you!” he said again.

“Then lower your weapons and make my job easier,” Túrthogor snapped at him, taking another wild swing at him.

“I’m not willing to die, either,” Mailon replied, his tone hard and cold. “Like I said” – he made a short thrust at the chief in an effort to make him back off – “I don’t want to kill you. But if you press this fight, I will.”

Túrthogor sidestepped the thrust, moving closer to Mailon as he did so. Just as he tried a thrust of his own, there was a gasp at the door and a child’s voice shouted, “The master and the chief are fighting!”

Mailon shoved the chief away with one foot. “Last chance, Túrthogor!” he growled.

But now there were more people gathering in the doorway, and Túrthogor could not back down. Not if he wanted to save face in front of the rest of the village. Instead, he pressed the attack.

“Traitor!” he snarled as he did so. For the benefit of those watching, he added, “You would see our race defiled by those around us! You would see us made weak, destroyed!”

Mailon’s attention was on the fight, and he focused on blocking the chief’s attacks – but he knew from the way the villagers in the doorway were murmuring amongst themselves that he would never be able to stay in the village now, whether he let Túrthogor live or not.

He had one chance to escape alive.

Túrthogor had no hope with only a small dagger and mediocre skill against Mailon’s innate talent and better weapons, and within seconds Mailon left the man on the ground, dead. He had no desire to push his way through the angry crowd, so he used his curved blades to cut his way through the side of the tent instead. He could hear people chasing him, and he sheathed his blades and ran as fast as he could to his home. He grabbed his bag from his doorway and slung it over his shoulder, not bothering to glance back as he left the village.

He could never return, he knew. They would kill him.

And yet where else could he go?
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Re: A Life of Repentance | 28 868 / 3366 3A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:05 pm

Location: Dekra outskirts, Garnelia
Year: 28 902 (3400 Third Age)
Status: 29 Winter

Eight years had passed since Mailon had left his home village. For a while, he had wandered the rest of his own country, but the attitudes of the people were no different than Tel En’Khalek. The White Elves were simply a race who did not care about others. Why would they? Mailon asked himself again and again. They didn’t care much about their own race, why would they think twice about taking the life of someone different from themselves?

After giving up on his own people, Mailon had traveled to other countries. There, he had not found things to be much better. The Fire Elves in Friesia and Shiezin were not violent, but they definitely did what they could passively do to show him that he was not welcome in their country. The humans in Poleria and Kelibrae tried to kill him on sight, and despite his glowing white skin and hair, he learned very quickly to camouflage in the warmer, green climates.

The Earth Elves were a completely different story. It was clear that despite the time that had passed since the incident that Mailon remembered so vividly, the people remembered their fallen messenger. And who knew how many more such messengers had not returned from their missions to Jielam? The people were not strictly violent with Mailon, but they did not trust him and they were extremely hostile against him. He was chased out of the small country many times and in the end he had to go around it.

He didn’t blame any of them for their treatment of him. He was a White Elf. Of all people, he knew what the White Elves were like. He wished it weren’t the case, but he couldn’t change it. His people were what they were, after all.

At present, he was in the northeastern area of Poleria. Night had fallen a few short hours previously, and Mailon was enjoying a meal of fresh fish that he’d caught in a nearby stream. He was eating them raw. Dressed in his old sealskin garments, he had no need of a fire for warmth, and it was too dangerous to make one for cooking, even something as small as fish. But it was something he’d grown accustomed to – even fond of – in the past several years, and he had also become quite skilled in filleting the fish so that he didn’t have to worry about scales or bones. As always, he had his weapons close at hand: his two curved swords, daggers, throwing knives, quiver and bow, staff – and he had even picked up a blowpipe, and on his belt he had a variety of darts that he could use with it. Since his first attack in Kelibrae, he had never been without them, keeping them within reach even when bathing.

He was still looking for a new place to call home, somewhere he could stay without worrying for his life, a place where everyone was treated at least decently. He wasn’t sure such a place existed, but he wanted to find out. If people would speak to him, he would ask; but even in the best places, no one would speak with him.

He sighed and was about go to sleep when he heard a noise beyond a snow drift in front of him. Instantly alert, he rose to his feet, fingers reaching instantly for a weapon. Then he simply waited for what would happen next. Rushing in blindly was for fools.

“Shh!” came a voice in a harsh whisper. “If anyone hears us, we’re done for!”

The man was speaking in the language of the humans, but his words were accented. It was not his first language. The voice that replied, however, was not accented.

“If we can make it across the border by morning, we’ll be fine.” It was a woman’s voice, and despite her encouraging words, her voice sounded more hopeful than confident.

Mailon’s mind was awhirl. A man and a woman. One human, one not. Fleeing together … eloping? And the only border they would have any hope of reaching by morning was the Jielam border … which, if as he suspected they were an interracial couple, would be a death wish. Or even if they were simply not White Elven, for that matter.

He knew it wasn’t his business, and there was no reason they would trust him, but he felt it his obligation to help them, to save their lives from the pain they would undoubtedly suffer before dying in his homeland. Taking up his staff, he set off towards the voices.

He had slightly misjudged the direction they were in, and he came over the snow drift and found them slightly to the north. Silently, he followed after them, and when he was close enough that they would hear him speaking quietly, he murmured, “To cross the border into Jielam is to bring yourselves to your deaths.”

The woman, a pale-faced girl of no more than seven- or eighteen, let out a strangled scream and clutched at the man, a muscular dark elf. The man swept her behind his back with one hand, and with his other he drew a thick broadsword and held it straight out in front of him, its point towards Mailon’s throat.

“Who are you?” he demanded authoritatively. “What do you want with us?”

Mailon held up both of his hands to show them that he meant them no harm. “I was settling down to sleep when I overheard your conversation,” he explained quietly. “I was born and raised in Jielam. I know the people there. They do not accept those who are different from themselves. If either of you set foot in that country, you are almost certain to die. You must not go that way.”

The woman whimpered and clutched the man tighter, pressing her face into his back. “Morhir …”

He hushed her, keeping his eyes on Mailon. “It’s all right, darling; I’ll take care of this.” Turning his attention back to Mailon, he added, “If you’re one of them, why do you care what happens to us?”

“I may no longer call Jielam my country.” Mailon smiled sadly. “A price one pays for disagreeing with the way things are done.” Morhir’s eyes narrowed, and Mailon explained, “It has been a while since I was banished for believing that people should not be killed because their skin is not white.”

The Dark Elf’s eyes registered surprise, and after a moment, he lowered his blade, then sheathed it. He held out one hand to Mailon, and the White Elf shook it, smiling faintly.

“Thank you for your warning, stranger,” Morhir said sincerely. “But we don’t know where else to go. We have to get out of here, if her father catches us – if anyone at all catches us – we’re done. They would kill me for certain, and I don’t want to think of what they would do to her.”

Mailon nodded thoughtfully. “I see. Do you know your final destination?”

“To the far west,” the woman spoke up, hope filling her tone for the first time since Mailon had discovered them. “A place on the ocean, called Caras Galadhon. It is home to people of all races, even those of mixed race. A place where mixed couples can live together in peace, without worrying about what others may do to them!”

Mailon’s heart skipped a beat. Would this be a place where even he would be accepted? Where he would not have to worry about his life all the time?

“May I join you?” he asked the two, keeping his voice calm. “I don’t know anything about this place, but I am a traveler now, and I will be able to keep you safe from attacks. Ensure that you reach your destination in safety.”

The couple exchanged a glance, and the woman nodded ever so slightly to the man. Morhir nodded back and turned back to Mailon. “We accept. We haven’t much to offer you in return …”

Mailon held up one hand. “I don’t want anything. You’ve already told me about a place where I might find acceptance, that’s more than enough for me.” He smiled. “Come. If you’re that anxious to be on your way, we can make a good many miles before daybreak.”

He gestured for them to follow him, and began to lead them west.
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Re: A Life of Repentance | 28 868 / 3366 3A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:06 pm

Location: Makshim, Shiezin, Arkandia
Year: 29 052 (117 Fourth Age)
Status: Early Spring

A few days had passed now since Mailon had woken up to find himself in a red-rock room, his entire body racked with pain, with a Fire Elf and a Light Elf standing over him. He didn’t know how he had gotten there, but he was thankful he had: he had been traveling through the western area of Shiezin about a week previous when an earth tremor had disrupted the Volcano Dragons in Wolsic, and they’d left their mountains to hunt. He had been fortunate enough to have been spotted by a young dragon, and he’d managed to fight it off; but he had been very badly injured, and he had barely been able to start crawling towards the city he could see in the distance.

After that, he remembered nothing until waking up in the clinic with his wounds tended.

Since waking, he had spent a bit of time speaking with the doctor – which really was all he could do, considering how badly he had been injured – and he had found out a few things, though not everything that he had questions about. The variety of people he’d seen were not residents of the city, or even of the country: they were travelers on a trip around the continent to see all they could. All but one of them, that was.

Why did that one woman bother him so? The half-human woman with dark hair, the one Ahkshi said was his wife but whom he refused to name. What was it about her that made it so difficult for him to think of anything else? He had seen her before, he was certain. But where?

He heard movement in the hallway outside his door and looked away from the window to see Ahkshi walking past. The physician’s steps were not rushed, so it didn’t seem there was any medical emergency, and Mailon wondered briefly if something else had happened.

“Ahkshi?” he called out softly when he heard the man returning.

The red-haired doctor stepped into the room and smiled gently at Mailon. “Yes?”

Mailon couldn’t keep his curiosity out of his voice. “Why have you been the only one here these past few days? When I first came there were all kinds of people here … but I’ve seen no one but you since then.”

Ahkshi suddenly looked thoughtful, and Mailon wondered what was going on. Clearly something was up. Was it something to do with the fact that he was a White Elf? Was he not trusted? That would make sense to him – if not for the fact that the first day he’d woken here, he hadn’t been treated quite like this. In fact, some of the people that had been there – the woman with wings, for one – had seemed to be trying to convince the others there was nothing wrong with him, that there would be no problems having him there. So what could have changed between then and now?

At length, the doctor spoke.

“M-most of the people who were here before have gone traveling again,” he said quietly. “So that is one of the reasons you have not s-seen them. The second reason is that the day you arrived, someone else also came – someone who died. His injuries were n-not inflicted by dragons, or any other animal. He was m-murdered, and not by weapons that most Fire Elves would possess.”

He paused, and Mailon’s brow furrowed slightly. What did that have to do with anything?

“Unfortunately,” Ahkshi added after a moment, frowning, “his wounds do m-match the type of weapons that you have. There are those who believe that you are the m-murderer. You are, shall we say, under guard. B-being watched. Not by me, I have too much work to do … but there are s-soldiers just outside the clinic.”

Mailon’s pulse quickened, and he felt the injustice of the implied accusation like a kick to the stomach. “But I’ve done nothing!” he protested.

Ahkshi held up one hand. “It’s not necessarily because the authorities believe that you are guilty,” he said firmly, “b-but to protect you from those who do b-believe it and who want to h-harm you for it.”

Mailon glared at the ceiling, frustrated anyways. It was the same wherever he went. Any time something happened, he was the one held responsible just because he was different. He was tired of it.

“I was hes-hesitant to tell you,” Ahkshi said quietly, leaning against the door frame and looking out the window. “Knowing what’s g-going on won’t help you with anything, and there’s n-nothing you can do about it anyways. F-forget about it. Just focus on get-getting well again.”

“Well I need something to think about!” Mailon snapped angrily before he could help himself. “I’ve spent over a hundred years going around helping people, and still I get blamed for everything that goes wrong, wherever I go! Even here, where people claimed to trust me – I’m not stupid!” He clenched his jaw and glared icily at the doctor. “Your wife, and all those other people – they left because of me. I really don’t think it’s a coincidence that they left the day after I arrived.”

For a long moment, he and Ahkshi stared at each other. Mailon could see the physician’s jaw twitching, and he knew that he had struck a nerve. His anger grew as he realized that he had been right, and he looked away angrily. It had been because of him that they all had left. He had said it only as a suspicion, but now he knew.

Suddenly Ahkshi spoke, his voice calm, surprising Mailon. “You are right,” he said simply. “They left because of your arrival. However …”

He paused, and the silence stretched on so long that Mailon turned to see what was happening. It was only when Mailon was looking again that the physician continued.

“However,” he repeated, still calm, “it was not for the reason you seem to believe.”

Mailon’s eyes narrowed slightly. He didn’t understand …

Ahkshi sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. “You may choose to believe me or not,” he murmured, “but they left for your safety. They will return, and long before you leave, I’m certain.”

He turned to leave, but just before he stepped out the door, he turned and added, “My wife is very much like you, Mailon. A traveler. Not by choice, but by necessity. She, too, looks for those who need her protection, and brings them to a place where they will be safe. But there are some very significant differences between the two of you as well. The first is that her actions stem not out of a misunderstanding or disagreement between herself and her own people, but from her personal experiences from a long time ago. The second is that she does what she does without caring that she is not accepted in most places. She expects not to be accepted. She helps people for the sake of helping them, not for any personal gain or glory.”

His eyes, a warm green though they were, were cold as he looked at Mailon. “Perhaps if you focused on those around you instead of yourself, you would not be held under such suspicion.”

With those words, he left, leaving Mailon stunned and confused.
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Re: A Life of Repentance | 28 868 / 3366 3A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Thu Aug 07, 2014 1:48 pm

Location: Wolsic-Jielam Border, Arkandia
Year: 29 053 (118 Fourth Age)
Status: Early Spring
 
Mailon kept his pace even as the Jielam border came into sight. There was no point in picking up the pace. It would only put the guards on alert. Not that they wouldn’t already be suspicious of him. He had a dragon on his shoulder, and there were a lot of border guards who knew his face. Two strikes against him.
 
There were a few things in his favour, of course. He was a White Elf, and was now dressed like one. It was the country of his birth, which meant he was quite familiar with the dialect and the specific quirks of the society. He knew exactly what they would be looking for, and exactly what would set them off.
 
There were four guards at the gate that gripped their weapons when Mailon approached them, and a fifth who held one up one hand to halt Mailon. There was no way around them, either. The entire country – and he knew this from experience – was fenced and guarded. To try to sneak either in or out would be suicide. It was impossible.
 
“Hold,” ordered the guard who had his hand out, palm towards Mailon. “Who are you and where are you going?”
 
Mailon scowled, and the expression was so foreign to him that his facial muscles felt oddly strained by it. “What do you care who I am?” he snapped. “You know every single person who lives here? Get out of the way so I can get home.”
 
The other guards formed a line across the gate and drew their weapons, and the guard in the middle put one hand on the pommel of his sword and stood his ground. “You’ve a few questions to answer first,” he said firmly. His tone suggested that he was used to stopping people like this, and despite the threatening pose of his hand, he seemed quite relaxed.
 
Mailon growled and cast a sideways glance at Uruloki. The little dragon was perched on his shoulder, his tail twitching with agitation. “Told you they’d be like this.”
 
Uruloki’s eyes narrowed slightly, and he snorted, small puffs of flame blowing like clouds from his nostrils.
 
“What are you doing with this dragon?” the guard asked Mailon, eying Uruloki and the place where the flames had been. He was clearly uncomfortable all of a sudden, and it made sense: White Elves could withstand quite a bit, considering their immunity to cold, their astounding nighttime vision, and their ability to summon ice to use as a weapon, but they were extremely vulnerable to fire, one of the only reasons they had never tried to expand beyond their borders, since the Fire Elves had sworn to protect any countries that might ever be threatened by the White Elves.
 
“I found him,” Mailon replied shortly. “He’s a volcano dragon, and he bonded to me.”
 
“Bonded?” The guard’s eyes narrowed. “Prove it.”
 
Mailon sighed. “How? We can’t bond the way legends speak about. We’re both male.”
 
“Want me to bite him?” Uruloki growled deep in his throat.
 
Without replying directly, Mailon reached up and put one hand on Uruloki’s back as if to hold him in place. When he did speak, however, his words were directed towards the guard. “He makes a tempting suggestion.”
 
The guard tightened his grip on the pommel of his sword, but still did not move to draw it. He swallowed hard, trying to look evenly at Mailon, but his eyes flickered involuntarily to Uruloki a few times. “I’m within my rights to ask you these questions, and to prevent you from entering if you can’t answer satisfactorily,” he reminded Mailon.
 
Mailon just shrugged. “And I could cut you down where you stand. All of you. It wouldn’t be the first time.” His scowl deepened. “Now let me through.”
 
“Where exactly are you headed?” the guard asked, putting on a brave front.
 
“Tal En’Khalek,” he replied promptly, injecting some pride into his tone, as if it would be beneath him to even consider going to any other tribe. Any good White Elf would think his own tribe above any others, but especially in this country. Here, it seemed, the rivalry between people was stronger than simply their belief in their own racial superiority: each tribe pitted itself against all the others in addition to other countries.
 
The guard kept looking at him, clearly thinking deeply about Mailon. It was obvious that he didn’t like him, but Mailon wasn’t there to be liked, and he knew that if he had been polite in his responses, he would have been refused outright. The people of this country were very different from most. Politeness was weakness. Weakness was scorned. He remained still, letting his eyes show his agitation at being detained, and he drummed his fingers on the hilt of one of his blades.
 
“Right,” said the guard at last, nodding once. “Go on. Get out of my sight.”
 
The others stepped aside, though they kept their hands on their weapons and their eyes on Mailon as he passed through them. Mailon kept his gaze forward, but Uruloki turned around on his shoulder to keep an eye on the soldiers as they left them behind.
 
Once they were safely out of sight, Uruloki turned to face forward again and growled deep in his throat. “I always knew there was a reason Kyrie avoided them,” he said darkly. Then he glanced at Mailon. “Though I have to add, you played your part well.”
 
“It helps knowing what they expect,” Mailon replied flatly, “having grown up with them.” He looked around, and sighed when he spotted some more soldiers patrolling near the fence. “Come on, let’s find somewhere to put up the tent and let them out.”
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