A Ghost From The Past
85E, Age 16, Year 43
The warm east winds were gently whistling through the trees on a bright spring day. A small elf girl played in the forest, rolling amidst the dew-kissed grasses and flowers. She loved venturing out here, so fresh and untouched; not like her home where the nomadic elven clans usually circulated through. Her father had told her before not to play in this part of the forest, but she had done so anyway many times and nothing bad had ever happened, so she had concluded that her father was simply scared that she might get hurt. Parents were funny like that.
There were animals about, but they seemed not to take notice of her carefree tumbling and frolicking. She briefly entertained the thought that she might bring her friends along to share this wonderful place but dismissed it. They would think she was crazy, like they always did. Even if they did go along with it her father would probably discover her disobedience, and she would not be able to come back for a long time.
Nicolette was busy rolling about when a short distance away sat a rabbit, nibbling at the luscious grass. It seems to be aware of Nicolette’s presence but remained unconcerned for the time being. She watched it with great interest, with its little nose twitching about as it vigorously chewed its food. After a while the thought came to her that she might take it home as a pet. She would like that very much. They could play games together in the encampment, and maybe her friends could play along. It looked a bit fat so it did not appear as though it could give a long chase. She moved slowly as to not attract the rabbit’s notice.
Too late; the object of her interest was off like an arrow. Nicolette darted after it. Rabbits were swift, but so were elves. Through bramble and bush they raced, over thicket and creek. All at once the little furry creature bounded over an embankment out of sight. When Nicolette came to it a second later, the rabbit was nowhere to found. There were some thick roots off to her left, with many tresses of overgrown vines and coverings. She assumed that it must have scampered into there.
“These trees must have been like this for thousands of years,” she thought to herself. It was a formidable labyrinth of intricate weavings, as if the trees were fighting for the very last bits of dirt and water on earth. She thought she heard a whimper and began to move in that direction. What she did found was something else that immediately captivated her attention. It was a wall, no a door, of seemingly incredible hardness and tall as the highest tent in her encampment. Its surface was made of some kind of glass encased in a gray metal frame that glistened in the precious sunlight that found it. She touched the door. The surface vibrated slightly against her fingers. An almost inaudible hum responded to her touch. She could see strange runes made of light as her fingertips traced over them. They were unknown to her, but all the same she was curious.
Suddenly there was a loud pop. The now-illuminated centre spun around several times very fast, and the metal reinforcers split apart with clock-like precision. The transparent front face split apart, and her hair and tunic rippled with the force of the air that rushed out as the inside pressure equalized with the outside atmosphere. Surely her little furry quarry could not have run off into here. A smoky haze slowly escaped from within. An odd sense of curiosity flowed through the small elf as she cautiously stepped into the precisely lit corridor. Her steps echoed on the unearthly stonework. Did no one know of this place? Who could have built this? These thoughts ran in circles in her mind when suddenly the door clamoured shut much swifter than it had opened.
“No, no, no!” she called out, pounding on the door to no avail. She searched around for a switch or other opening mechanism near the entrance. Upon not finding one, she trodded deeper into the construct, which was now her only hope of getting back out. Nicolette was suddenly overcome with a paralyzing fear. She knew that she should not be here, but there was no way she could escape now.
Nicolette looked around the high ceiling and wide corridors with alien geometric patterns inlaid all around, which irradiated more light than the dying astral lamps that gave off a faint glow. The walls were lined with what looked like coffins made of metal with large tinted glass windows in the front. The hall was grotesquely sterile. Never before had she smelt or touched a place this unusually clean. Not even a speck of dust on any of the surfaces anywhere.
The corridor opened into an even larger and taller room to what appeared to be a central chamber or something like it. The pathway was made an etched crystalline material with a chasm on either side. Every step she took on the unusual flooring echoed in the vaulted hollow. The bridge stopped in the centre, which was distinguishable by the illuminated markings around. All around her the strange glyphs like the ones from the door fluttered about her on the transparent panels.
“Surely one of these must open the door,” she thought to herself. The conflagrant, foreign characters danced about before her. Looking down, there was a spherical controller that held the same set of symbols that did not move or change. They were quite large, much bigger than her hands. None of what she saw made sense in her mind. Seeing as she was trapped in this place until she did something, she decided that she would randomly touch one of them. One was any good as another, so she picked one that looked less bizarre than the others.
Before her fingers reached the glassy ball in the centre of the console, the glyphs changed and now displayed something more familiar; Ariand, an antiquated form of Elven language, if she was not mistaken. Nicolette breathed a sigh of relief. Whatever this machine was, it must have discerned her different ethnicity and translated accordingly. While she was not exactly fluent in the ancient Elven dialects, it was much better than what it had replaced. “Open” was a rather easy word to form anyway. The keys followed her fingertips like magnets and the characters she had already entered remained illuminated in the diaphanous field before her.
Nothing happened. Something was wrong. Looking at the keystones on the controller again she noticed some others that were not a part of the Elven alphabet, two that were bigger than the others. She tapped the leftmost one, and the last symbol she had entered disappeared. No, that was not the correct one! She retyped it and pressed the rightmost key.
The symbols she had entered suddenly glowed all the brighter, and the outline of a hand appeared. More than anything else Nicolette wanted to be free of her confinement. Without much thought, due to her enervation over being in a foreign underground structure for what seemed like a lifetime, she placed her hand on the outline.
A magic barrier materialised, encompassing the small area around the control panel. Not again! She pressed against the globe of light that she was encased in, only to find it was hard like glass but much stronger. Was there no end to this confinement? She did not want to be alone in the strange construct forever. In an instant she felt as through her skin was burning but when she looked at it there was no sign of damage. A light from a place she could not see inscribed a mark on her right hand and brow, branding her with a magical insignia that Nicolette could only guess meant something unpleasant.
Before she could think about what had just happened, a deep roar erupted from outside the barrier that she was trapped in. Someone else was here, or moreover some thing was here.
“Thank you, little one,” a soft, seductive voice said. There was a dichotomous ring to the voice, a mixture of deep, harsh male and enticing, sensual female tones. Initially Nicolette thought it was very nice. However something about it gave her chills. Something sinister about the way the voice had spoken. She did not want to meet the person who had spoken to her from inside her head. How could anyone do that anyway? To speak without using your mouth was horrendous in the young elf’s mind.
She was expecting a dragon to climb out of the abyss past her chamber, but instead all she saw was a middle-aged human woman in a tattered but radiant orange-red dress slowly levitate out of the fissure below and fly past her. Her long, wavy black hair flowed over her shoulders as she moved as if she was swimming in an invisible ocean. Without even lifting a finger the door opened and Nicolette watched as the woman walked out of the Requietum. The tree roots that had hitherto now concealed and protected the Requietum’s entrance whipped out of her way, as if her presence was hurtful to them, leaving a cleared path to the outside world.
To Nicolette’s surprise and horror, the woman disembodied into a dark, inky cloud of mist that grew until it nearly filled the surrounding landscape. The cloud slowly formed the shape of a dragon and flew out of sight. Now she really wanted to leave this place. As if reading her mind, the barrier that she was in fizzled into nothingness. Nicolette quickly ran out of the vault into the warm sunshine.
Maybe it was all a dream. She could go back home and everything would be fine. She looked at the arcane mark on the back of her hand and she knew that would not be possible. What would her father think? No, she had to hide. No one else could know of this; but where could she go? As much as it frightened her to think about it, there was nowhere she could go that her mark would not give her away. She would have to leave everything she knew, everyone she loved, and live on the run from what she had done.
She started to walk the opposite way from the path leading to the vault. The sooner she could get away from there the better. There would be plenty of time to think about what she was going to do on her way out of the forest.
A young elf girl, Nicolette, finds herself in a precarious place. She finds out the hard way that some things are better left alone.
The first chapter of Dragon's Heir.
The first chapter of Dragon's Heir.
I can't believe I didn't comment when I first read this. Sorry about that and I am looking forward to the next chapter. But obviously you know that already
I really loved this. The descriptions are wonderfully written and clear. The story itself is brilliant. I really would like to read more soon. I feel sorry for Nicolette. Poor thing. I can't wait to read what happens! Great job!