PART 1 – Adurna's Ways
A few last rays of sunlight filtered through my window as the sun started to fall below the buildings of Adurna. It was quickly nearing dusk; the sky was cast into brilliant different shades of orange, intermixed with faint rays of pink. Though it was still warm, I knew it would start to cool off, and people would begin to retreat inside their cosy homes for the night. From where I looked out of my window onto the street, I could see families moving indoors, small clusters of them moving about.
Brightly coloured birds were singing as they flew to their various nests, the happy laughter of the children out on the street. I knew that any animals that were not nocturnal would be heading back to their dens, nests and caves to their young. In the air I could smell the scent of rain which would probably fall later in the evening. The last thing I saw before going to sit on my bed was a group of human children passing through a doorway.
Houses were crumbling, and only about a hundred people lived here. The streets were dirt-covered, though once they were paved. The buildings here were old, very old, and all seemed the same. For instance, the one I was looking out of was made of wood, and could get quite drafty at times. The wind often came through the families there weren't all that large, generally two parents and two children at the most.
Maybe in the bigger cities the families could be larger, but that was the largest I had seen. All the men and boys wore shorts and sleeved tops. All the girls, including me, as I wanted to blend in, either wore skirts, or simple dresses. I preferred to wear shorts, but that I could not do while I was there. I would have stood out. A group of human children were moving indoors as I turned and sat on my bed. I was no human.
In the orphanage I lived in, my room was small, crowded and had little free space. In one corner, opposite the old creaky door, there was a cracked mirror. The cracks ran across it in several places, making what looked like a crescent moon, though it was slightly oddly shaped. There was a hard lumpy mattress on an iron bed frame that I really hated. I knew there were much better beds in that place; I often chose to sleep on the floor. The cracked and faded floorboards were far more comfortable in comparison.
I resented living with all those humans. Of course, I had my reasons, since logically those days; elves would not have been caught dead in the human towns. About twenty perhaps, the numbers changed each year. Children came and went, never me. I made sure of that. I had learnt to get along with them, though only resentfully did I put in that effort. When I'd first gotten there, there had been times when I had lashed out at them, when they had picked on me.
Later though: after realising that doing that was alienating me from them, I had to try harder to fit in with them. After a long time of not being talked to by anyone but the adults, I had decided to try and fit in a bit more. So when two twins had arrived at the orphanage and had grown up until about five years old, I had then made friends with them. Another pair of girls, one three, the other about four when I met her, had joined me as my friends.
Turning to face the old mirror while I sat on my bed, I smiled. The elf that looked back at me had golden blond hair, of which several strands fell across her blue eyes.
Though I knew that elves were considered perfect, many of us weren't. My face was not yet as angular as those of the adults of my people the tips of my pointed ears were actually rounded off. No normal elf has rounded ears at the age I am now. That was one of the faults I had. I hoped that I would grow out of that though. It was really embarrassing. At least my ears were starting to get more pointed by the day at the moment, so they would be by the time I was an adult. Good thing too, I would be an adult within a weeks time.
Another fault I knew I had was that my eyes brightened every time I lied, so I could not ever lie convincingly. Luckily only elves knew about that, not these humans.
Though I was skinny, I knew that would not be an issue when it came to fighting. When it came to fighting, we all seemed to skinny to wield the weapons we chose, and I knew that I would be no exception. As I knew, being brought up by the elves as who I am meant to be, means that one day I may have to lead my people into battle.
Frequently I longed to be away from the humans that surrounded me. I did not belong there. Those people had such a dull, boring life, and I rather detested them. The humans were rather boring; all they ever seemed to do at my age was play.
Whereas back in my old home, I knew that children my age would be learning to fight, some would learn the skills of the wyvern riders, and others would start to pursue things that interested them.
Being an elf in a human town, I do not let my ears be seen when I am amongst the humans. When I am alone in my room at night though, I always let my ears poke through my hair. If I had to interact with humans, my ears were always hidden, though I longed to not have had to do that. That was because I knew what I was, an elf among many humans. I'd rather to not hide my true identity, it's a nuisance. Also it had seemed to take a bit when I was younger to learn to hide my ears and not look different to anyone else.
If a human had seen me as an elf, it would not have been long before I would have found myself in the torturous grasp of the human king. Lindan Marcos had let the nation fall into ruin since he had begun to rule. He was tearing it apart, by continuing the war he had instigated against my people. He was being ruthless about how he ascertained his armies; I'd seen boys taken from the orphanage by the soldiers.
When they'd come, I'd had to hide, and quickly. They would have recognised me for what I was. Of course all the humans seemed to think that Lindan Marcos was the best thing that ever happened to Nuban, though I saw his actions through different eyes. No one loved him enough that he would ever ascertain an heir. That would have meant a painful death on my part as he simply loathed elves.
I could always tell when the soldiers were coming to take the boys away; the whole town seemed to become more on edge. They also seemed to be on the lookout for any foreign faces, especially anyone who vaguely resembled at elf. For me, it was a time to hide and not come out; they'd noticed the resemblance in me. The soldiers always seemed to turn up at evening, and the first place they always came was here to the orphanage. All us girls would run and hide in our rooms, and not come out.
The first few times I peeked out from my room, curious but no more. The idea of the boys being taken against their own will really disgusted me, and I no longer took an interest in it.
Lindan Marcos would never be able to get me to be obedient to his iron will, and a good thing too. I did not approve of what he did; my parents had taught me all about what the humans had been like before his rules and the differences now. The humans had been a lot more free willed and friendly.
We'd all noticed the changes since he came into power, we'd all had to hide again in our beloved forests. Also we'd had to fight him on multiple occasions to defend the woods. He was not a good man and I knew that. Eventually I would help, to bring the man down.
Fifteen years had gone by in that place, and I still didn't like the way things were. I remembered the elves, how my people lived. It's a much more peaceful, relaxed place in the woods of Quessir Sdnal, the mighty woods that mark the southern end of Nuban as a whole realm. Those woods were the true home of my people.
It was not the easiest of places for someone to live, when there were so many things going on. I knew that my friends and the other kids here, though left out of fighting and things until the boys got to a certain age, knew what was going on.
Even a few families were split up by the soldiers and that was a thing that I hated to see. At the moment, we knew that Collin was getting almost old enough and that meant that he would be one of the boys taken next time the soldiers came. Sam, his sister, did not want to see him being taken. Nor did Gemma, Ashlere or I really, seeing as he was a great friend to have.
There was no chance that he would ever be good for fighting really. He did not really seem the type for that. There was too much about him that was not violent, unlike some of the guys around us in the town. He never wanted to fight, though he would if the need was there really.
I sighed as I made my way out of the room, hiding my ears as I went. It was a pain to have to hide them, but a few people already knew what I was really. Only my closest friends had I told that I was not human like they were. They did not really care what I was, having me as a friend in the first place was good enough for me. None of them would ever tell anyone of my secret, I could trust them enough.
They were the only humans I enjoyed being around at the moment. Around them I could be the person I really was, but if there was anyone else around, I had to act as though I was human, if I wanted Lindan Marcos to never find out who I really was. It was never easy. Lying was not something elves had the habit of doing and yet every day I had to act in a way that was not true to myself!
I hated having to hide from the soldiers that came, in truth I wanted to stop them from taking all those boys, but I couldn't. It would be a big mistake to get in the way, and I knew that.
“Come on Sam, why do you always hang around with that misfit Gem so much?” I heard one of the other boys demanding.
“Because she is my friend and she is not a misfit, Lucas!”
I knew the outrage in the female voice I heard. Sam was always very defensive about me and the others she hung out with.
“Seriously, Samantha, there is no point in hanging out with someone who'll be stuck here till she grows up. Someone might want you and your brother, and I bet if that were to be the truth that they'd turn away and choose someone else if they heard you hang out with Gem the Wierdo!”
I chose that moment to step into the room. “Talking about me, Lucas?” I smiled over at Sam. “Hey Sam.”
Sam was a very pretty girl for her age. Her hair was red and hung neatly to her shoulders, and her eyes were sea green, I'd told her that and she did not believe it. She was nearly sixteen. She smiled at me. “Hey Gem. And seeing as Lucas seems to not be able to answer you, yes he was.”
I sighed, turning my eyes on the rather pudgy black haired guy in the room. His eyes were dark blue, almost black as he glared at me.
“What can they find interesting in you?” he demanded. “Maybe a good person who looks out for her friends?” I replied swiftly. “Just leave my friend the hell alone, won't you?” I knew I was older than both of the others in the room, Sam was four years younger than me, and Lucas was only a year younger. I looked more Sam's age though, not my own.
That was something else that no human understood about the elves. Why we seemed to age in appearance slower than they did over time. It was because to some degree, we were immortal. And they never would be, unless they were chosen by wyvern's as Uruohtar's.
I met his glare with one of my own and I knew he would not take long to leave. No one could withstand my glaring for very long. They said it was something about my eyes that they could not really handle. I knew not what it was, but I was glad that I did not have to be angry for long before they caved in under my gaze. Sure enough he backed away out of the room rather quickly, he knew I would not stop glaring at him until he left. It was only too easy for me to stay with the same expression for a long time.
“Wonder what their problem with me really is?” I muttered as Sam and I headed out of her room to where all the other kids were for dinner.
“Maybe its because we seem to like you when they all don't?” Sam suggested. “Not that there is anything not to like about you.”
“Thanks Sam. But I have the feeling there is something else going on really. I know there are other things that have to be reasons as well. I just have a hunch about it.”
She laughed. “Well, you'll likely never know, Gem.” “Wish they would stop talking behind my back though and shutting up as soon as I come into the room, same goes for about you guys.” It was a pain really, the way the other kids were acting as though my friends were weird just because they hung out with me. Not really fair for the others, none of them really knew me.
But that was my own doing really, I could not let too many know what I really was. Painful really, knowing that so much of me was hiding all the time. It got frustrating at times, because I hate deceit a lot. It was needed though and there was nothing I could do about that. I was the one who had something to hide which meant I had to do what I could to hide it of course.
I smiled as we headed into the main eating room, knowing that there was always something good to eat, regardless of how many of us were here. Sometimes there were a few missing which meant there was more for those of us who were here at the time.
Noise seemed to blast our ears as we entered the room, the other children were running about, talking and there was the clatter of cutlery as people ate. Someone was arguing about not wanting something in particular, another telling someone off for pushing them, all sorts of things were going on. No one took any notice of us as we moved into the room.
My eyes scanned the room for my other friends. Sam's twin Collin was already seated at one of the tables, Gemma was almost at the end of the line and about to get her food, but I could not spot Ashlere at all.
Please let me know if this was an attention grabbing first chapter. Why it is isn't. Any suggestions for improvement as well. Please no sugar-coating comments please, be as realistic and harsh as you want!