The Forests of Adrimon

Part 5: Fragments of the Past

Written by: Jonathan Mariucci

The songbirds were awake far too early. Their thrum and chirp resounded through the dark glade, urging lethargic creatures to rise. Somewhere nearby a pop sounded and for a moment the birds fell silent. Elrick emerged into the glade, exhausted from his trek through the forest. He whistled the Song Thrush's tune, gently carrying the small child in his arms. She was sleeping, and he knew he needed to get some rest too.

The glade was inviting, a natural place of beauty almost as wonderful as the Dryad's grove. The moon looked down on it in just that magical way, sending lines of silver light through the grass. He couldn't help but wonder if Elowen was nearby, watching from her realm. He spotted a giant willow near the center of the glen, and approached it wearily. The long hanging vines provided cover and he had hoped it might be a place to rest.

The place was all too inviting, and he was able to do just that, until Arvellon woke with a fuss. He stirred as if from a foggy dream, slowly and then in somewhat of a panic. His eyes blurred and his ears rang as if he were still dreaming, and in the back of his mind he heard something else. 

Someone calling his name.

Elrick glanced beyond the willow and found to his surprise it was still dark. "Why is it still night?" he wondered aloud. At once he set to take care of the child's need, pausing only a moment to peer beyond the willow's canopy. "How on earth did you rest all day, and without waking me?" he whispered to the girl. She was too busy taking the liquid the dryad gave him to answer.

Slowly the pair emerged into the glade, finding it aglow with fireflies- hundreds of them. It was a miraculous thing to witness, the tiny insects dancing in an otherwise silent glen.

Elrick was about to pack his things and continue his trek to the east, but paused for a moment. Arvellon was now snuggled into a special backpack, and thus the wood elf's hands were free. He bent down and parted the tall grass to find something silver glowing near his feet. It was not a natural item, for it looked nothing like a log or branch, and yet its shaped resembled one. Jagged and broken, perhaps the handle to something. He slowly bent down and touched the item. When he did he immediately experienced something strange.

A multitude of thoughts surged through his mind, the hair rose on his arms, and a tingle rippled down his spine. He recognized what he was holding as a weapon fragment, something that had been fractured. He knew it to be a piece from an ornate scepter, and somehow knew a great deal more about it. Memories flooded through his mind- memories of someone else's life.

He witnessed to his surprise, a ghostly figure searching the long grass. She was about the size of a child, and he knew at once she was a sprite. Her hair was unkempt, wild, and purple. Her kind came from the fey realm, and were sparsely settled in the forest. Still kneeling in place, he briefly wondered what happened to them as he watched the vision unfolding. 

 

She approached him and while he was still experiencing her flood of memories, she stood to face him, bringing her face close to his. She smiled and placed her hand on his cheek and said in a small voice "You'll need luck now. Right now."

- - -

Arvellon looked up at Elrick, eyes wide from the story so far. "What did she mean by that?" she said hurriedly. Elrick's lips rose in a smirk, he loved telling her these stories after so long. "I didn't realize there was another force there in the glen, and I saw it much too late. The spirit had now faded, and behind her, there at the edge of the treeline stood a unicorn watching me." Her eyes grew wide and she beamed with glee. "Not so fast- this one was... changed." he continued. "Its eyes glowed milky white and there were no pupils. It's flesh had been torn in places and the moonlight seemed to avoid this creature. It was completely jet black, and it was clearly in a state of decay." Arvellon's smile soured "a black unicorn?"

"Yes. I ran then, with you safe in your pack. I ran back to the great willow and I battled the beast. I nearly died that night, for it impaled me here." He pulled down his shirt to reveal a deep scar on his right shoulder.”

"We pressed on, you and I, for about 10 days.” Elrick continued. “I was running out of food for you, and you were becoming increasingly difficult to care for in the wilderness. And I... well I was losing my mind. There was this sort of routine to my movements. At the end of each day I felt a little more distant. Only by moving did I have the energy to continue. So I tried not to sleep those last few nights, for I could hear her in my dreams, calling me, asking me to sleep."

"I remember the day I reached the edge of the forest. It had rained early on, but the clouds had parted and the air was crisp. It was such a feeling of relief, looking out onto those rolling plains and distant mountains. I can tell you the instant I felt her presence leave my soul. It was as if a great weight had been lifted from my mind." He smiled grimly. "But you were there, through it all. And if you hadn't given up, I surely couldn't. I've been waiting to give this to you." He pulled out a long scroll case and unlatched one of the sides. Inside was a long object wrapped in cloth. He blew some of the dust off of the piece, and then reverently handed it to the girl. "This was the relic piece I picked up that day in the glen. It belonged to Leana, the last sprite of Bluebark ridge. I think you aught to have it." She took the fragment, clearly honoring Elrick's gesture.

There was an interesting reaction that occurred then, as if Arvellon was witnessing something Elrick couldn't see. He smiled when he realized she was seeing the spirit too, after all these years.