“Weeeee!!!” Kyanalea sequealed, she swung from the tree branches weaving in and out as fast as she could.
The cool air blew through her long auburn hair, “You won’t win!” she exclaimed as she raced the Black Panther, whom she called Nalia, up the ancient tree.
Nalia’s long nails and cat like ways allowed her to lunge faster up the tree then Kyanalea. The race didn’t matter; Kyanalea simply loved being among nature and anywhere but the stifling confines of home.
“You beat me, Nalia,” Kyanalea she gasped out of breath, “but it’s okay, I’ll get you next time.” Nalia nuzzled her face into Kyanalea hands, as they sat at the top of the tree. Petting her gently, she begins to sing a song of her people, the Wood Elves:
“A Bereth thar Ennui Aeair! Calad ammen i reniar,
Mi ‘aladhremmin ennorath. A Elbereth Gilthoniel, I chin a thûl lín míriel…
A Bereth thar Ennui Aeair! Calad ammen i reniar Mi ‘aladhremmin ennorath.
A Elbereth Gilthoniel , chin a thûl lín míriel…”
Laying her head on Nalia, and watching the gentle swaying of the leaves, feeling as much as hearing the deep purr from her closest friend, Kyanalea drifted off to sleep.
Palias and Naivara Galanodel were leaders among the Tribe of Faelione, a small tribe, known for their generosity and kindness among the Wood Elves. Although accomplished diplomats, somehow their strong willed, independent daughter, still managed to strain their patience.
“Kyanalea! Where have you been,” Her father yelled, “How many times do I have to remind you about this welcome banquet for your betrothal to Aelar?”
Palias was a shorter elf, only about five feet tall, his green hair showed tinges of white as he entered his fifth century of life, though he blamed his days worrying about Kyanalea as the cause. She sometimes wondered if his diminutive stature was why he was so charismatic, his large personality balancing his small stature.
Unbeknown to her, two centuries of negotiations, began long before she was born, led to this day. An opportunity for a lasting change in the halls of Elvin kind, a bridge lost to the ages, a peace accord sealed with a marriage, a marriage between prominent houses between Wood Elves and High Elves.
He was anxious that the united bond with the High Elves of Korithor rested on the betrothal to his daughter who, although beautiful, was no diplomat. He worried her free spirit and outlandish traits would ruin the entire affair.
“Out thinking, I fell asleep in the tree again. I’m sorry,” She apologized.
“You need a bath, you’re filthy and you smell of that cat,” He exclaimed.
“I will, but you need some wine to calm down, you already sweating from anxiety. ‘Don’t ever let them see your fear’, ” she quoted from his often ignored lessons.
“Just get ready, and quickly, they will be here shortly!”
She rolled her eyes as she went to go wash up and change. This wasn’t the life she wanted. She couldn’t even think about it, why would her father betroth her to a High Elf? Did he know her? Didn’t he realize how miserable she would be. A tear fell from her face. No I can’t cry now. She filled the basin with warm water and slunk in wishing she never had to get out and face the world.
“Aelar, it’s so great to see you again” Kyanalea warmly smiled at him as the welcoming party came trotting up with their horses.
She stretched her hand towards Aelar’s horse; the horse sighed and nuzzled her hand. She smiled and kissed the horse’s nose and slipped him a sugar cube from a pouch hidden on her belt.
“Well he seems to like you,” Aelar said.
“I’m sorry I kinda got carried away with your horse, He’s very sweet,” she blushed.
Aelar dismounted and tied the horse to the stable post. “I don’t blame him, you are beautiful,” he gushed.
Kyanalea blushed some more. Even though she wasn’t excited about all the change, Aelar was handsome. Most girls in this tribe would die to take her place, but she just wanted a simple life.
“Come on, let’s head into the banquet,” he said as he took her hand and interlocked their arms. “We have so much to learn about each other.”
Kyanalea half smiled at him, still hesitant about all that was before her. Her stomach was in knots, and everything inside her told her to run.
They walked in together and were seated as the guests of honor at the head table. They shared a wonderful meal; he even managed to make her laugh once or twice, before the dancing began. She longed to dance with in the carefree manor of her people but a traditional betrothal dance of the high elves was all that was allowed this evening.
Taking her hand, Alear led her through the complicated steps of the Quiloquoi, and she almost managed to enjoy herself but just couldn’t shake the feeling to flee. She enjoyed Aelar’s company but something wasn’t right.
“Aelar,” she whispered in his ear as the dance ended, “please don’t be mad but I can’t stay, I’m sorry, I just…I just have to go.” His eyes wide with hurt he watched as she ran away into the dark forest.
Tears streamed her face, but she kept running and running until she reached her favorite tree and climbed it. She sat at the top and watched the stars and the moon trying to do everything but think about Aelar, or her parents. I can’t go back, she thought, I’ve disappointed everyone.
Just then she heard someone …“he.. he.. help” the voice called, “Ple.. ple.. please help me”.
Kyanalea climbed down the tree, listening for the voice again. “Where are you?” she called.
“Over here!” the straining voice replied.
Hesitant, she looked over to see a human about 20 feet north of the tree. He had dark brown hair and a slim muscular build. Maybe he’s an adventurer she thought, rarely do humans come to Faelione.
“My right side, I’ve been hit with an arrow….I….” He said
“Shhhh…” She said, “No need to talk, I’ll help you.”
He began to doze off, seeing her beautiful red hair blow in the breeze.
She called for an Elk, who helped her bring him to safety in a hallowed out tree on the outskirts of the village, far enough away but still where she knew the foliage and plants.
She tore pieces from her dress to help pack the wound, creating a fire to help him keep warm, and left to forage for supplies. Picking Barberry, Canduela plants, Aloe leafs, Elderberries and more. She spent most of the night concocting potions and salves to help save his life.
Day 1 –
He has fallen into a deep sleep, I’ve packed his wounds. I’ve tried to get him to drink some Barberry tea to prevent an infection. I will check on him in a few hours. I’m not sure what to do at this point; I can’t go back to Faelione. I’ve screwed up big time.
Day 3 –
He still hasn’t stayed awake for very long, getting him to drink teas while he is awake. He still is incoherent and I still don’t know his name. He is really handsome, and I just keep wondering about his life.
Day 6 –
His name is Naethus, an adventurer who has lost his group after a goblin ambush. There is no infection and I keep changing his dressings. I don’t mind though, his skin is so soft.
Day 10 –
I can’t believe that it’s been almost two weeks since I’ve run from home, it’s freeing in so many ways. Naethus is doing much better. He is finally able to move without screaming. Humans are so weak.
We’ve talked so much, about everything. Since he is doing much better we are going to start on a journey and set up camp somewhere north, way out of Faelione and nowhere near Korithor.
Journeying together, they began to fall in love. Knowing of the disapproval she would face back home she decided to stay with him. They came upon the town of Galatin, a human village where they decided to settle.
Wary of what others would think she wore her hair down, covering her elven heritage, as to not strike discord with humans that may not approve of their interracial relationship. This was her own fear, since she would never want any harm to come to Naethus. They worked around the clock building their new home together, Living in a make shift tent in the mean while.
One night while they were laying in bed, both ready to fall asleep, Naethus took her hand. “Come on, I can’t wait any longer.” He said
“Wait for what?” Kyanalea asked
He pulled her out of bed and they ran down to the river just west of their property.
“What is going on? Why did you take me here?” Kyanalea asked.
“See this moon, bright and beautiful reflecting on the water. That’s what you are to me. You have brightened my life, and you make me wanted to be a better person. You saved me! you gave me such a refreshing new outlook on life. I want to spend forever with you Kyanalea. Will you marry me?” Naethus asked as he looked into her green eyes and stroked her long auburn hair.
Kyanalea giggled, “Of course I will marry you!” she said in excitement, “But you don’t have to do these crazy human rituals. I don’t need a proposal, I just need you.”
“I know,” He said “but this is a symbol of my love, human or not I want to scream to the world you are mine.” He took a gold ring from his pocket.
She blushed as he put the ring on her finger and kissed her. He swept her up in his arms and they hugged. They walked hand and hand back to the tent.
With no family or friends to speak of, they decided to get married the next day. She bought a simple dress from the Tailor’s shop and foraged for some flowers to wear in her hair.
Human wedding traditions were foreign to her, but weddings no matter what the race were similar; a beautiful dress and flowers. They met up at the chapel in town and the local priest performed their wedding.
It was so simple. Without all the dramatic wedding banquets and ceremonial elven traditions, she was truly happy.
They lived a simple life together on their farm, tending their gardens. Naethus picked up extra work at the town mill, and Kyanalea spent much of her time foraging and enjoying nature as she loved so much.
Many days on his way home from work he could hear her singing, he would smile knowing as much as she had saved him, he saved her too. Frequently he would sit in the grass and listen to her joyful songs. This was the life she wanted, out of politics, out of the spotlight. It was quaint and quiet, just the two of them.
Though they tried to have children they never were able. She longed to give him a family, but she knew all too well the trouble her mother had, added to the challenge of their racial differences. It was what it was, and as long as they had each other, nothing else mattered.
At the old age of 85, Naethus died, in her arms. She did everything she could to give him longevity, making him drink a golden root tea each morning, but she knew it wouldn’t work forever. Having not quite reached her second century she knew she would far outlive him and be lonely once again.
She sobbed as she hugged him, her tears wet his tunic, remembering the life she fell into, and the life she ran away from. She wished she could have saved him one last time like she did on that brisk night that she ran away from home.
“OH Gods Save him!” she cried, “Save my sweet husband!”
Knowing how he loved to hear her sing, she poured her heart into one last farewell. The song taking on the haunting quality only an elf can summon, the air thrummed with the innate magic of her heritage.
“Snow White! Snow White! O Lady clear!
O Queen beyond the Western Seas! O Light to us that wander there
Amid the world of woven trees! Gilthoniel! O Elbereth!
Clear are thy eyes and bright is breath, Snow-white! Snow-white!
We sing to thee In a far land beyond the Sea!
O Stars that in the Sunless Year With shining hand by thee were sown,
In windy fields now bright and clear we see your silver blossom blown!
O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!
We still remember, we who dwell in this far land beneath the trees,
Thy starlight on the Western Seas.”
She buried him in the backyard, and recited a simple elven prayer. She sat at his grave most of the day until the sun went down. The rest of the night she spent curled up in their bed trying to savor his sent yet on his pillow. Every time she closed her eyes she saw his face. She laid there starring at the ceiling. Days went by and it was the same rotation from grave to bed and on and on.
A few weeks later, Kyanalea sat on a chair staring out the window, a window into the garden they built together. She knew Naethus wouldn’t live forever but it seemed so short. She had not been able to stop crying. Everywhere she looked was another memory, another heartache.
The painting on the wall was a reminder of their wedding day. A local painter in the village captured the love in their eyes that day. His arms wrapped around her waist, both of them looking at each other as if they were alone in the world.
A dent in the wood table from Naethus and alittle too much wine, dancing and swinging Kyanalea around on their second anniversary. He lost his balance and fell onto the table which crashed to the floor. They laid on the floor laughing the night away.
Everything reminded her of a story and the life they built together. The sting of death wouldn’t go away, and she knew it wouldn’t if she stayed here. It was like living in a tomb. This was no longer home.
She had to leave; she had to go somewhere else, anywhere else. She found a small bag and packed some supplies and food. Taking off their wedding ring, she threaded it onto a necklace next to a locket that held a lock of his hair.
She shut the door behind her and everything she knew. Once again she was starting over, alone.
Her upbringing as a wood elf, Kyanalea knew how to take care of herself while traveling. She could forage, start a fire and set up camp. This life was no stranger to her, so she ran with the wind, climbed trees, and made friends with the animals. Her free spirit desired this, to heal the broken pieces. Along the way she would help heal animals and forage plants and herbs she knew she would need in the future.
One night, a few months into her travels, she lay floating in a lake bathing. Staring up at the stars, her mind began to wander. She saw herself in a field, the moon was full and bright. One by one she began to see animals coming out of the forest and in one accord they bowed to her.
When she awoke she was startled, she realized it had been more than a day dream, this was a vision. Something was changing.
She quickly dried herself and got dressed, moving on to the next camp. Each night, for the next three nights, she had the same dream of being in the field and seeing animals walking out of the forest and all bowing to her. She knew deep down, the full moon was the Autumn Solstice.
The next morning she started on her travels again, going through the motion as she pondered the meaning of her dreams.
Suddenly she heard a voice “Kyanalea….” It whispered
“Kyanalea…” it whispered again.
Where was it coming from she thought, “Uh, hello?” she said
As she turned a white unicorn stepped into view, it was glistening in the sun. The mere sight of it brought tears to her eyes for its beauty alone. She held her breath entranced as it began to shrink, shifting into from equine to a more humanoid shape.
“Kyanalea,” he whispered.
“Who are you?” Kyanalea asked
Fully formed, standing a head and shoulders taller than her, she looked upon an ancient human, gray eyes intense yet twinkling with mirth, and long white hair the same color as the unicorn’s mane.
“I am the Archdruid Reagan, I’ve been following you for months,” he said in a warm baritone voice that was reminiscent of a moonlit waterfall.
“You couldn’t have, I’ve been so careful. No one could follow me through the woodlands,” she responded.
“You know all those animals you’ve encountered on your way, many of them have been me,” Reagan said. “Others were truly wounded and you fulfilled my hopes as you cared for them.”
Kyanalea couldn’t believe she had been so clueless. How could she not see this transforming human following her? She should have recognized something was amiss. Was he truly so akin with nature nothing separated him from the heart of the wood?
“Why have you decided to show your face now?” she asked more than a little annoyed by the invasion of her privacy. This was her time of mourning.
“I know you are finally ready to hear what I have to tell you. Your pain was too fresh, too all consuming. And yet you showed compassion instead of anger as you tended to the creatures of the forest. Slowly you have started to heal. And yet the visions did not come to you until this very week. When your heart opened enough to hear the call I knew it was time,” he said with a smile.
“Time for what?” Kyanalea questioned.
At that moment animals of all kinds began to bound from the forest. At a single command from Reagan they bowed to her in unison.
Her eyes welled up with tears.
“To come home,” he smiled. “Kyanalea, it is time you hear your heart song twined in the melody of the forest; to feel the pulse of the trees dance in the autumn breeze; to know the spirit of land not by watching, but by being as one with it. It is time you joined us as a sister, as a Druid of the Circle of the Moon.”
She had been running for so very long, running from the void that she needed filled. At that moment everything seemed right. She knew that she needed to dedicate her life to becoming a druid.
And she knew Naethus would approve and that alone lifted a weight she had not realized she carried. He would have wanted her to live, and every day she had spent running from their life was a day wasted.
Reagan transformed back into a unicorn, she climbed up on to his back. They rode off into the forest making way for the Druid Moonglade, just in time for the Autumn Solstice.