(The following is from an unknown journal found in PLACE NAME sometime during AGE TIME. The original manuscript is written in Elvish.)
Another day I rise from my trance to the bounty of Mielikki, and amid her forest guardians, I feel comforted. Her face shines upon me through the leaves of her forest, and she blesses me with her bounty of berries and fruit, and she has guided me to find flowing water. My quiver is full. I am rested. And in this moment I am grateful for Her comfort.
My path has taken me south and westward from what I knew of my home, and in that time I have traversed the base of the Graypeak Mountains and moved rather quickly into Evereska. A place father took me many times before both to help me learn to track and hunt in drier areas as well as to observe humans.
“Comfort is a sweet poison,” I remember him saying. “And an elf’s life has no place in constant security beside a warm fire.”
It’s been a month of movement since I have left the last human place of refuge and gathering. It was smaller than the two before it, but I was able to keep my anonymity that I am back amid the trees, in the comfort of my own place, race
I’ve begun to list the days I have spent away from my home, intending to count the number of days until I am able to avenge my father’s violent death. I realize that may be months or even years, and I am accepting of this. After all, it merely grants me more time to sharpen my swords and file my arrows, so to speak.
I continue this day into the Border Forest, looking forward to being again alone with the Nature Mother and her terrain. As with any forest, it will not be like any other. It will have its own markings, scents, and sounds. It will have its own life, one that I intend, in some regard, to provide the respect due of my kind.
Two days ago I was awoken to a curious rustling of leaves in the distant brush behind me. At the time of break from my trance, I was held in a large bowed branch of a lovely pine. Its bark and pillar were old but stood stalwart in its leaf-topped soil. It made for a lovely session of solitude, but I was only several hours in when I heard the unusual sound.
I dropped to the base of the tree and hunched to listen. The ears of a Druid, as my father would say, can hear the forest body as a whole, not just the solitary beats of its heart.
The lone wolf spider I viewed at a distance was crawling slowly, doing its best not to alert any prey it would find, but clearly unaware of its failure. Hideous wild crawlers, its dirty grey coat slid across the dead foliage below it and it gave a low clicking sound as its black-eyed cluster scanned for its next meal.
I knew if I were spotted, it would follow me with its own feral aggression, and I wasn’t in the mood to match my two feet with its eight. I leaned in toward my pine for safety and readied an arrow and lodged it securely. But the bark of the tree made the slightest audible brushing.
It spotted me instantly, and its speed was much faster than I remembered. It has been several years since I have had any dealings with wolf spiders, and I recalled in that instant why my father always urged me to avoid them if I could.
The spider leaped upon me and my bow and arrow were lost. With its fierce beastly teeth, it struck twice at my small frame, trying to bite any part of my body. It was a heavy thick-furred breathing boulder above me, and my body shivered as the follicles protruding from its grey and black body seemed to crawl and probe about my skin as I lay trapped within the bars of its legs. Knowing full well what the bite of a wolf spider would do, I twisted and contorted my body, just missing the poisoning gnaw of its browned array of pincers and fangs.
The fur of its legs and underbelly crawled upon my skin, making its own feelings for where the next bite attempt would be made. My hands dropped swiftly to my belt and I ripped my shortswords from their scabbards and plunged the blades into the grey pulsing fur mat above me.
The wolf spider screeched and contracted as the think red pulp of its stomach fell over my silver blades and onto my face and leather vest. Two more long slices into its belly and the creature made a final piercing cry before the entirety of its soft grey frame eased itself on top of me in its own terminal acquiescence.
I slid, with great effort and slow counts of time, from under the open belly of the spider back out into the open forest and lifted again myself back upon the Elvish feet I have always counted on. Cleaning and regaining my weapons, I laid my hands upon the quiet grey body of one of the Nature Mother’s creatures, blessing it in one of the Sylvan prayers of Death, thanking the creature for its life, and asking its spirit to aid those who still walk in the light of the forest.
I walked away from the beast in search of water and for whatever trials I would encounter that would make me stronger in what I know I am.
Orcs. My kind is known in small number by other races. Yet, among those races, it is known to be even-tempered, composed, and commonly without reaction at the graces and misfortunes granted by the Nature Mother. These are the same lessons my father has taught me. In many ways I find myself in line with the Elvish way and law, that of the forest, the world to which we were given and for which we care. In many ways I am this. I am these things. But I also recognize that I am still a child, a girl, a wild tree allowing herself to grow in fields not right for her prosperity.
I am composed until it comes to Orcs. It is in this that I lose myself, the teachings of my race, the temperament of the Sylvan, and in many ways, all sight and understanding of all that my father taught and wanted to teach me. This is a flaw. This is my downfall.
Two days ago I saw an Orc at the far end of an opening in the Border Forest. Again, it was in this moment that I lost control.
My actions in that moment went against all that I have learned under my father’s teachings in my 63 years of this dear Elvin life. My father taught me the keys to being a hunter, a ranger, and the makings of a fine druid. My father taught me the benefits of stealth over boisterousness, range over close-quarters combat, nature and equanimity over carnal instinct, and forgiveness and allowance over vengeance and vindictiveness. In that moment, and in my present mental state, I have failed my father; although there is a strong part of me which wonders if my father would feel the same way about the final bit were he still alive.
I saw the foul waste of life first, across an open glen somewhere in the Border Forest – the place of my travels the last few days. In all ways of my kind, this is known as the silent advantage. I see him, but he does not see me. A solitary Orc, in hindsight, is a rare sight and worthy of even more precaution. Orcs travel in groups of their own foul kind, usually quite large groups at that. Seeing one on its own in the middle of a forest is likely a trap, or a harbinger of an ambush, etc. But none of this came to my mind at the time, and the only thoughts I had were foolish ones.
The first rule that I broke, the rule all Elvish hunters know, is to stop and consider, especially when one has the Silent Advantage. This way one can consider all the options in one’s given situation to best eliminate the enemy or prey.
I drew both of my shortswords, belted a yell as fierce as I could manage and set to rushing across the open glen as quickly as I could – granting my enemy with an eternity of time to regard my disposal.
I swung first with both swords – an action which the Orc easily evaded. He countered with a swing of his broad battle ax and, though I was high on adrenaline and breathy heavily, my slender frame and agility stepped out of the way. I made a dash behind him and took another swift double swing at the slow creature’s leg. Both sword blades struck in the nearest leg and the foul ape let out a roar and fell to the ground turning.
Vengeance lit up my face and I switched my grip on both hilts and raised both shortswords high ready to plunge them into the torso of my foe. Then, the twirling glint of the battle ax zipped across my vision. My midsection open, exposed, and welcoming, all I could do was turn away and make a swift prayer to the Nature Queen.
Everything went black, and I remember no detail after that moment until at least a day or so later.
*thanks to John Howe for the art work.