From the Beginning (Lancaeriel's Story) | 95 1A+

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From the Beginning (Lancaeriel's Story) | 95 1A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Thu May 24, 2018 11:02 am

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Re: From the Beginning (Lancaeriel's Story) | 95 1A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Fri Jun 01, 2018 8:38 am

Western Coast, The Continent, 95

They had become so common now, the earth tremors. Even now, as she stood at the edge of the branch-woven platform that she called home, she had to shift her weight in time with the tree’s swaying to keep her balance.

Where was it coming from this time?

Her eyes, a vivid blue flecked with gold, scanned the horizon in every direction. To the west, the ocean, dimly lit by the ever-darkening Silver Tree, glistened in waves that ebbed and flowed. North, jagged mountains were silhouetted against the silver light emitted by the Tree. Or perhaps, she realized sadly, she should consider the silhouettes to be blocking her view of the stars in the sky, so weak had the light of the Tree become.

The trembling increased suddenly, taking her away from her thoughts and reminding her again of what she was looking for.

It was when she looked southwest that she saw it. It was the same thing that had happened … how many days previous had it been? It was difficult to remember. But it was all too familiar. The swaying of treetops no different from the one in which she herself was currently perched. Their leafy shadows being replaced by pointed peaks as a new mountain – no, new mountains, she realized, surprised for the first time in a long time as she saw not one, but four new peaks emerging to point at the sky.

This was new, and it was something she didn’t understand … but she was distracted from thinking about it by the dilemma that had brought her to her sanctum, the place she was best able to think. The familiarity of her home, her possessions, did much to calm her mind. Even the oddity of the current upheaval could not divert her for long. She had a decision to make: a life-altering decision. And for a child of eight years, that was a daunting task.

Her gaze on the stars, she heard before she saw a glory of unicorns approaching. Their pale glow illuminated their path, and she knew by their presence that the ground would be safe. Perhaps a walk would clear her head.

The sea was not far distant, and by the time she reached it, the earth tremor had ceased. She wondered briefly how many new mountains there would be this time, considering how many she had witnessed; then, with a sigh, her mind returned to the question she had to answer.

“Greetings, young one.” A soft male voice startled her from her thoughts.

Flustered, she fought to keep her composure even as instinct caused her to whirl around to face the man who had spoken to her. He was tall, even compared to others she had come to know. His raven black hair was about as opposite from her shimmering gold as it could get, as were his brown eyes. Like her, he was elven, and there was nothing about him that indicated that he was dangerous to her. In fact, his expression was warm. Kind. She relaxed.

“Greetings, sir,” she replied respectfully. “You startled me.”

The man smiled softly at her. “For that, I apologize,” he murmured. “I did not mean to startle you. You do seem very distracted.” He touched one hand to his heart. “My name is Valdemar.”

She recognized the gesture for what it was: a greeting, an introduction, a reassurance of peace. She returned the gesture. “I am Lancaeriel.”

The man’s smile widened. “A pleasure to meet you, Lancaeriel.” He paused a moment, then added, “Might I walk with you?”

She hesitated, and he clasped his hands behind his back. “Forgive me if I seem forward,” he murmured, “but it is so rare to see one so young as yourself so deep in thought.”

She considered the comment, then nodded and continued walking along the silver shore, not reacting when he fell into step beside her. “I have a decision to make,” she told him quietly, “and I am running out of time to make it.”

“A decision?” His eyebrows arched in surprise. “And what decision might one so young have to make that would be so difficult?”

She lifted her gaze to meet his. “I was visited by Lord Manwë four star cycles ago. In two star cycles he will return to bestow upon me a Gift. I have but two days left to choose what Gift I would ask of him.”

At her words, his eyes filled with wonder. “I see,” he murmured. He turned his gaze toward the sand beneath their feet. “Yes, I see how that might worry you.” He looked back at her once more. “If you seek clarity, perhaps I might offer myself as an aid? Someone to whom you might confide your thoughts, perhaps help you to make sense of them?”

It had never occurred to her to speak with others about her thoughts. True, she spent most of her time alone; yet even those with whom she lived had ever suggested turning the decision into a discussion. The idea was appealing, though: and why not speak with this stranger? He would have an unbiased opinion, would he not?

“There are many things I would wish to do,” she began. “I would wish for the power to stop Melkor and his destruction of our world. I would wish for the ability to renew the light of the Trees. To comfort those who suffer. To heal those who are hurt. To return life to the dead.”

She knelt to scoop a beached fish back into the water and watched as it swam away.

“I want to be able to do something to help this world and what is happening to it,” she finished, almost in a whisper. When she turned back to Valdemar, there were tears glistening on her cheeks. “How could I possibly choose?”

He looked at her, and his gaze was both tender and anxious. “I understand now why Lord Manwë would consider one so young as you to receive your Gift already,” he said softly. “That is indeed quite the decision to make.”

He fell silent for a moment, though he continued to walk alongside her.

“Have you asked your parents for their advice?” he asked suddenly.

Without flinching, she replied, “My parents were killed by creatures of Melkor a long time ago.”

He winced. “Again, I am sorry.”

She looked up at him and brushed her hair away from her face, tucking it behind her ears. “Thank you.”

They continued in silence for a spell, both of them deep in thought. His eyes flickered continually to her, while she kept her gaze on the waves lapping against the shore.

“If I may,” he said abruptly, drawing her attention once more, “I have the honour of knowing Lord Manwë relatively well … perhaps if you were to explain your thoughts and your desires, he would help you.”

“How?”

He smiled at her. “Not all Gifts are as specific as your desires. To heal. To revive. To save. To renew. Some Gifts can give you the ability to learn how to do all of those things. Wisdom. Intelligence. Physical strength, magical ability.”

Her eyes filled with wonder. “Truly?” She considered for a moment. “Yet even if I had the ability to learn, I would need the opportunity …”

This time, the silence was brief, and in fact went almost unnoticed by her, as her curiosity was roused by the slow, pleased smile that spread across his face.

“If you wish,” he said quietly, “I know of a group of people who would be able to help you …”

For the first time in a very long time, her eyes lit up with excitement, causing her to appear closer to her eight years than an adult.

“I would like that very much,” she murmured, controlling her voice.

But she had to clasp her hands together to keep them from trembling with excitement.
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Re: From the Beginning (Lancaeriel's Story) | 95 1A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 03, 2018 6:53 pm

Western Coast, The Continent, 95

It was the third star cycle after she had first met him that he returned once more. This time, she was waiting for him. Not idly, as that was not her way; but, knowing that she would be leaving her home, she was preparing her few belongings for travel.

She had never traveled before. This was the very tree in which she had been born and lived her entire life so far. This was where her parents had taught her what they could before they had been killed, and this was where they had died.

“Lancaeriel,” came the voice of one of the elves who had been taking care of her. She looked over. The woman was standing next to the branches that served as a stairway to the ground. Beside her was Valdemar. He was smiling warmly, his hands clasped together.

“Valdemar!” she beamed. She dropped the clothes she had been putting into her bag and rushed over to greet him. She grasped his two hands in hers and squeezed them, causing him to chuckle bemusedly. “I’m so happy you’ve come!”

“So I see!” he laughed. “And it is good to see you in such high spirits! You were quite thoughtful when last I saw you.”

Her eyes sparkled in the twilight. “I did as you suggested. I spoke with Lord Manwë about my concerns and he gave me exactly what I needed!”

She tugged him over to her area of the platform and released his hands. “I told him everything I wanted to do, and he gave me a generous Gift – the ability to learn, just as you suggested!”

He was visibly pleased. “What kind of ability?”

“Physical, mental, emotional, magical.” The gold flecks of her eyes glinted in the light of the stars. “Watch.”

She put her hands together, one above the other, palms touching; and then she slowly separated them with a twisting motion. A light appeared in the space between her palms, a pinpoint light at first, but it grew larger as her hands drew further apart.

He was impressed. “Well done, Lancaeriel. And have you thought further about my offer?”

She nodded vigorously. “When can we leave? I’ve almost completed gathering my things together!”

“Calm yourself!!” he laughed heartily. “I am pleased that you are so eager, but we cannot leave today. It is a fair distance to where we are going, and we will need protection.”

His smile faded and he looked around them. “Melkor’s creatures grow ever stronger and greater in number,” he murmured. His brow furrowed slightly. “We would not survive on our own.”

She looked at him, far calmer than she had been the moment before. Yes, now that he had brought it up, she knew that he was right. They would not be safe, just the two of them, on the ground. Even the treetops were not completely safe from the creatures that Melkor had created for the destruction of the Firstborn. She knew that from experience. So how could they be assured of safety on the ground? Would they find a glory of unicorns and travel with them?

“Wait for me here,” he said after a moment’s silence. “Two, perhaps three star cycles. I will find those who can help us.”

She nodded. “And in the meantime?” she asked hesitantly.

He looked down at her bare feet. “You will want protection for your feet,” he replied. “Thick leather, as much as you can get your hands on. Who knows the path we will have to take?”
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Re: From the Beginning (Lancaeriel's Story) | 95 1A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Wed Jun 06, 2018 11:36 pm

Western Coast, The Continent, 95

For the next three star cycles, she kept her eyes on the stars, watching as they revolved around Idris, the Unmoving Star. With each constellation that disappeared over the horizon, her anxiety and excitement grew. She thought of nothing but Valdamar’s return, forgetting even to eat unless one of the elves with whom she lived would bring her something.

It was as the stars were beginning their fourth cycle that he arrived. When he climbed to the top of her tree, he was alone.

“Did you find anyone?” she asked him breathlessly.

He smiled, and the light of the stars reflected in his dark eyes. “The very best,” he promised her. He looked around. “Do you have all of your things ready?”

“I was ready two star cycles ago,” she laughed.

He chuckled at her. “Bind your feet and meet me below,” he instructed her. “There, I will introduce you to my friends, our protectors.”

She did as she was instructed, and when she descended below she found Valdemar in conversation with two other elves of very tall stature, who made even Valdemar look small, and who, like Valdemar, also had raven hair and eyes. The man had a serious air about him, while the woman had a warm smile and kind eyes. They were speaking as she approached, but when she came near, they stopped and looked at her.

“Lancaeriel,” Valdemar smiled, holding one hand out to her invitingly. “Meet Aldrich and Alyse. The first of us.”

Her eyes grew wide with awe.

“It is a pleasure to meet you, child,” said Aldrich, stepping forward. He put one hand on her shoulder and gave it a light squeeze. “It is an uncommon thing to hear Valdemar speak so highly of one so young as you are.”

“Me?” She blinked in surprise.

Valdemar laughed softly. “Lord Manwë himself showed his fascination with you,” he reminded her, “when he chose you to receive your Gift so young.”

“I just wanted to do something good!” she protested, though her cheeks warmed with pleasure at the praise.

“And that,” said Alyse, her smile widening, “is why we are so willing to guide and protect you on this journey.”

“Which we should begin.” Aldrich released Lancaeriel’s shoulder and picked up a bag which had been lying at his feet. “Come.”

Lancaeriel picked up her bag and slung it over her shoulder obediently. She was both excited and nervous, not only for the trip itself, but for her arrival at … wherever it was they were going.

“Where are we going?” she asked curiously. “Valdemar said that there were people who could help me to learn, but he did not tell me much beyond that.”

“Far to the east,” Alyse replied, directing a warm smile towards Lancaeriel. Aldrich had taken the lead already, and Valdemar was walking next to him, while Alyse had taken a position next to Lancaeriel. “There is a group of people there who are working together to learn all that they can about … well, about anything. The world we live in. The Valar. The Ainúr. Eru. Magic. The creatures that inhabit this world with us, whether they were here with us from the beginning, or if they have only recently appeared.”

Lancaeriel and Valdemar jumped slightly as a large fern nearby rustled, and before Lancaeriel even realized it, Alyse and Aldrich had long blades out, holding them in front of themselves protectively. Their speed unsettled the child almost as much as the rustling, and she took a deep breath to calm herself.

“It is safe,” Aldrich said quietly after a few moments of complete silence.

They continued walking once again.

“What are those?” Lancaeriel asked, pointing to the long blade Alyse was sliding into a long leather thing at her waist.

“Swords,” the older woman replied. “They are weapons that are quite effective for protecting us from Melkor’s creatures.” She followed Lancaeriel’s curious gaze and smiled. “And this is a sheathe,” she added, patting the long leather thing. “For carrying a sword safely.”

“We may have to consider teaching her the defensive arts,” Aldrich spoke up from in front of the two. “It is a long journey and we may not always be able to defend her.”

Lancaeriel’s eyes lit up. “I can learn to be as fast as you?”

Alyse laughed, a soft, clear sound. “Perhaps.”

“Perhaps we could also use this time to teach her a little about our world,” Valdemar suggested. “It would give her a head start on what she would be learning with the others. And I believe that it would also help her to understand better the situation in which we all live.”

There was a moment of near silence, broken only by the sounds of nature around them, as the others considered the suggestion.

“Perhaps in small amounts,” Aldrich decided at length. “She is still very young, and it would not be wise to overwhelm her.”

“And only when it is safe,” Alyse added. Lancaeriel looked up at the woman, and she noticed that her eyes never rested, but were constantly flicking this way and that. “While we are traveling, we must remain alert.”

Valdemar glanced at Lancaeriel over his shoulder. “That means,” he cautioned her, “that while we are walking, you must limit your questions. If we are taken by surprise, we will be in grave danger.”

She nodded to show her understanding, and as much as she wanted to start asking questions about what they might encounter, or how long they would be traveling, or when they would rest or eat, or about so many other things, she held her tongue, remaining silent.

For now, she would be content simply to listen and observe.
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Re: From the Beginning (Lancaeriel's Story) | 95 1A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Mon Jun 11, 2018 10:02 pm

Crossing the Continent, 95

As promised, the journey was long. While they walked, there was little conversation, as their guides and protectors remained alert to what was around them; and even when they rested, they stopped only long enough for Lancaeriel to recover before they continued once more. Occasionally they would take the time to share a full meal together, and during those times Lancaeriel would ask as many questions as she could think of, begging the other three – Aldrich and Alyse, especially – to tell her all about the beginning of their world and what it had been like before Melkor had begun his destruction.

Often, she learned just as much by simply listening as she fell asleep.

“It is getting darker,” she heard Alyse murmur to Aldrich. “Soon the stars will be our only source of light, save building fires.”

“Which makes everyone near them a target for Melkor and his creatures,” Aldrich replied, equally quietly.

There was a moment of silence.

Then: “Do you think the Valar will provide an alternate light source?”

This time the silence was longer, and he sighed heavily before answering. “If they do, and if they wish it to remain untouched, they will need to have it out of his reach. Up where the stars are.”

That left Lancaeriel wide awake and looking thoughtfully up at the stars for a long time before she was able to fall asleep.

Four times in the first three star cycles, they were attacked by creatures of Melkor, and each time Aldrich and Alyse used a combination of magic and skill in weaponry to defend the group. The attacks scared Lancaeriel in ways she had not felt in a long time, and they also brought to remembrance the incident where her parents had died – been killed by some of the very creatures that she knew were now stalking her and her guardians. Several times, she woke up to find herself drenched in sweat, being held in someone’s arms – usually Alyse’s, though on occasion she would wake to find Valdemar holding her, and even, rarely, Aldrich.

Over time, she grew bold enough to ask more of her protectors. She asked them to tell her about how the world was changing, how long before they predicted that the Trees would go completely dark. She asked them to teach her about magic and about the weapons that they used. She asked them about their lives, and what it had been like to be the first of the elves to be created.

Eventually she moved past simply asking about things, and asked to be taught to do much of what they did. Some things came to her more easily than others: she seemed to have an affinity for water (for which they all became grateful when they passed through a newly destroyed area where there was none) and for light, while other things, such as fire, seemed to be more difficult for her to work with.

“It will come with time and practice,” Valdemar promised her with a warm smile. “Do not fear.”

Eventually, Lancaeriel wore through all of the leathers she had brought for binding her feet. She was amazed and then grateful when Aldrich used the skin of a deer he had hunted to fashion her some boots like his and Alyse’s. He used the opportunity as a lesson, showing her how it was done, and how to treat the skin so that it would be stronger and last longer. It was a lengthy process, requiring a few star cycles, but no one complained of the time it took from their journey.

One of the most important things she learned as they traveled was navigation: how to know where they were and which direction was which by looking at the position of the stars.

“If you know where you are,” Valdemar murmured to her once while they were resting, “you will always know where you are going.”

Rarely, they would come upon other elves, some of whom were traveling, most of whom were not. They would share a meal, rest easier for a while knowing that there were others also watching out for danger, and then press on.

They traveled for a long time: so long, in fact, that Lancaeriel lost track of how many star cycles had passed. What finally made her realize just how long they had been traveling was when the others asked her if she would be willing to create a few small orbs of light for them to better see the way forward.

She looked up at them fearfully. “The Trees are dead, aren’t they?”

All three of the others looked grim, and it was Aldrich who nodded and murmured, “Yes. We are very nearly at our destination, and I think it would be wise to arrive as soon as we are possibly able. For that, it would be helpful for us to see more clearly where we are going.”

Without further question, Lancaeriel produced a light orb, making it grow larger until she was instructed to stop. She passed the orb off to Valdemar and then made a second one for herself. This left Aldrich and Alyse with their hands free to use their weapons if they needed.

“Let us press on,” Aldrich said, his eyes filled with determination.

So they did.
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