The Forests of Adrimon

Part 1: Coming of Age

Written by: Jonathan Mariucci

"Arvellon" the old man said quietly.

"You've asked me this question on this day each year since you were old enough to speak. For twelve years I've answered and for twelve years I've dodged some truth of it." He paused for a moment and wondered how he could tell her everything. The young elf studied her step father wondering if he was about to.

"This year is different, you’ve now grown old enough to forge your own destiny. I realize you want to leave the valley and how desperately you want to find your homeland. It is your birth right, but there are things you must first understand."

He gently lay several ancient maps down onto the study and as he handled them small pieces crumbled to dust. He whispered in elven and quite magically, the dust began to reassemble itself. Arvellon had not seen these in the library, and it was the first time she saw him use magic. She was surprised by both facts, for she had read almost every page the library contained and had not in her life guessed Elrick could wield magic. Her interest in what he was about to say was amplified ten-fold.

With his finger the old man traced a line on the map following a river to a range of rolling mountains, and continued tracing up and around several more features. "The elves called this vast land their home for many centuries. Scholars even argue their reign spanned longer than any other known civilization on earth. Would you believe me if I told you the wood elves were a part of this world when time was first born?"

"They were a wise and peaceful race, proving themselves as powerful wardens of the forest. During their time here, the great trees grew; they were given names of power and driven skyward by their skill and magic. The land blossomed, becoming vibrant and colorful. There were areas of the forest where reality itself grew confused, causing portals to open. These bridges connected the earth to a new realm: the land of the fey."

"Creatures of all kinds moved to and from these locations, enriching the land and trading knowledge with them. For a time, centaurs, sprites, trolls, and even powerful dragons conversed and traded with the elves." He shifted his focus from the maps and continued his lesson.

"It is generally not known, even to the wood elves who remain here, why they chose to depart this world. Speak with your kin and you'll find a dozen theories. Most reject the idea that they were abandoned, believing instead that they were meant to safeguard their ancestral home. An elf who begrudges their kin is a rare one."

"No, we don't know why they left. What we do know, is that after they did, another great power came to rise in their absence, when the lands were left open. Early correspondence with those who remained became strange and erratic. Rumors arose that a new leader had risen to power. People began to..." he stopped speaking and simply peered through the tower window. Arvellon realized he was thinking of her mother. She knew that Elrick once loved her dearly.

"The people began to change." He turned his attention back to the youth. "I received a letter from your mother. It was as if she had forgotten how to write. It was sloppy and made little sense. One paragraph stood out however. She mentioned a new leader, a sorceress who could preform ‘miracles’. She was like a goddess to them, and to nearly everyone. It happened quickly..." He began to daydream again and said softly "far too quickly to imagine."

"That letter was the reason I went back for her, Arvellon. I know you want to learn more about your heritage and how things happened the way they did. I don't blame you and I can't stop you from going to your homeland. What I can do is what I should have been doing all this time. I'll help prepare you. Will you accept my apology for all these years? I was trying to protect you for her."

Arvellon knew that he had loved her mother beyond words, and that the circumstances of her own birth and exodus from her family had something to do with this strange leader. She smiled and hugged him. "Of course, I've never held any of this against you Elrick, but I do know of Adrimon... I've found the journal in your study. It is you who deserves the apology." She fished for a small key, and with some embarrassment, handed it to him.

Elrick found himself secretly admiring her tenacity and then nodded slowly. "Then it is truly time. Little is written of her in the journal. You'll find more in here." He pointed to his head and smiled. "You won't be able to enter the Forests of Adrimon without first strengthening yourself. Her mind is a plague that reaches out to ours the moment we set foot in her domain. Everyone who enters ends up losing themselves, becoming fragments of their past and soul-bound to her will."

Tonight we'll speak about what your mother and I went through escaping the forests. I will answer as plainly as I can any question you ask. Perhaps you'll be the one who can stop her... you have hero’s blood in you after all.