The events of last week have been put into perspective. It seems a Skar, wearing an illusion, conspired to incite hatred of “the other” in the child, which is something the Elves have done well, themselves, but the Skar then sought to turn that hatred upon the child’s own kind. While the child may have been fooled, the Rangers were not, and for corrupting our youth the Skar earned the right to be fertiliser.
We as a people don’t need or want division amongst ourselves. We have found balance in our efforts to steward Faerthale and its adopted children. The Ashen protect from within, and the Ember research threats and eliminate or counter them. It must be as such, ever since our home fell to the demons.
I wonder what that Skar was thinking. I wonder what other dangers lurk in the present. Certainly not more than my ancestor, Hollister, faced.
Grandfather continues his writing,
“We had made our way north for two days, and had found a peaceful looking brook. Filling our skins and having a rest, we forgot ourselves for a moment, and let our guard down. A pack of lopers set upon us during our rest without warning. While the majority of us could defend ourselves, one of our number – Mitalar Zinsys, bless his bones – was too slow, and was taken down viciously by not one, but three lopers. First his legs were knocked from under him, then his throat torn through by thirsty teeth driven by corded muscle.
“We were able to fend them off, but not before Mitalar was lost to us. Lingering with the smell of fresh blood in the air would be a mistake, as would bringing his body with us. Mitalar’s soul returns to wherever souls go and his body stays here to feed the land that took him.
“Our tears shed and goodbyes felt, we moved on, our hearts heavy. Loris, a young pledge to the Ranger Corps, had been tasked with carrying Lumos’s heart, a sapling given to us by Lumos, a tree that sheltered us for hundreds of years and burned at the hands of the demonic host in genocidal pursuit. Why such a young elf was given such a huge responsibility I will never understand. The fool even tripped while holding the sapling, bumping his head against it, and leaving the sapling temporarily knocked askew.
“What if it had been worse? What if he had snapped our tree? Would Aellos or Dythiir step in and make things okay? How is the tree related to our connection to our Gods?
“We’ll have to give the sprout a chance to grow if we want anything for the future of the elves. It falls to us to get this tree further north.”
The Tree was almost snuffed out in its infancy by a clumsy young Ranger? How horrifying! The idea that our future could be lost so easily, that my idea of Elfdom was once so feeble and easily removed from play touches me in a way I quite dislike. I know we have more or less thrived for thousands of years, and that the “less” includes a war that we overcame with the help of allies. That speaks loudly to the resilience of our people, but learning that there was a time when there were nearly no more elves turns my world upside down.
I must learn more. I must find out everything I can about how the Elves overcame their difficulties and became the force majeure they are today.
The journal goes on,
“The Rangers are rotating our watches, leaving me, for the moment, with another chance to write.
We passed the clearing where I saw the mountains in the distance. We all had the opportunity to stand atop that hill and gaze north at the future site of our new home. Some smiled, some sighed, some even wept with joy and relief. It’s been hard for us these centuries, but standing here, looking at the cleft of the mountains, and the surrounding forest and all its lessons, it almost feels like we have a future.
But, I can dream when I’m not surrounded by unknown dangers. I have to deal with the realities of the moment, if I am to be a defender of my people. The reality is we are a group of malnourished refugees desperately seeking a home, knowing no-one and nothing in a completely alien land, being set upon by unknown dangers and perhaps even alerting unknown enemies. That’s why we need to move quietly; as unobserved as possible.
I hate to say it, but the forest culling our weak makes it easier for the rest of us to survive. We need every advantage we can get in this forest hell. I hope whoever reads this – if someone reads this, for reading this could only follow our survival – does not judge me harshly for thinking this.
Alchemist Naejor has been providing me with what nullroot he has left. It used to be plentiful, back on Sio’laen. Everything was. But now we’re here, people are stressed out, and if we don’t get to safety soon it’s only a matter of time before one of us snaps. Maybe me. I wouldn’t like that. I’m glad that Naejor was able to pack a contingency bag with seeds and samples for bringing common Elven herbs with us wherever we went. I hope that the earth in the land before us is welcoming to seed, and that we might soon have a supply of much needed medicine. Elves worked far too long to cultivate those plants to let them never grow again. The seeds bring us something we can run towards. The seeds bring us our future. Alchemist Naejor is our saviour, though to hear him tell the story you’d think he plans to push the herbs up from the ground himself. Best to keep that bit of praise to myself.
To the point, though, Naejor is running out of nullroot, and at a time when a greater number of us need a dose. I’ve seen him tasting plants he’s come across, nibbling at bark, rubbing it on his skin… he’s given himself some rashes and looks a little green, but he’s keeping at it. Part of me thinks I should help him. He seems to be managing, though, and he’s keeping a record of it all. Plus, there’s no sense in all of us getting ill from eating strange plants.
I complain – inwardly – about Naejor’s attitude, but in reality he is an exceptional alchemist. He knows it, too, though he eagerly embellishes his accomplishments. The future of Elven alchemy could not be in better hands. The future of Elven storytelling, too.
We venture onward. I will keep an eye out for the Alchemist's health through his no doubt imminent, further snacks. I pray Aellos and Dythiir will see us through. I pray the twofold prophecy does not get fulfilled, but I also pray for safety. Time will see if I am at odds with myself, though if I am being frank I hope it does not happen while I live.”
Were I not an Elf, myself, I might think from this journal that the Elves were about to be snuffed out. Their rangers are supportive of losing the old and weak. The lone named alchemist is single mindedly and single handedly hunting down & tasting every morsel of alien vegetation that comes his way. Their elders have long since been culled, leaving only the physically capable to escape to make a new life for themselves. These are all indicators of the kind of stress, both physical and mental, that being a refugee entails. The stress of being on the verge of not being.
And, for these refugees, there is no going back. They are trapped in a foreign land, trying to make the best of a horrible situation. No allies, no accomplices, just danger surrounding their every step. A tale with such drama one might read it in a children’s fiction, but indeed it is the basis for what the Elves’ relationship with Terminus will be like! Or, would be the basis, had thousands of years not passed in the interim since my ancestors’ penning.
Every time I open this journal I learn something new about my history, and what desperate people must do to survive. My fervent hope is only that we do not end up villains, as do many people who make the best of a horrible situation.