tagSci-Fi & FantasyInnocence Lost Ch. 01

Innocence Lost Ch. 01


She ran like the wind, her paws pounding the ground with rumbling of thunder. At a glance, she blended within the pack of wolves, but looks are often deceiving. She ran, her fur tousling in the breeze, along side her companion, Greymist, and a dozen other wolves.

Nose to the wind, tail wagging behind; she caught a faint scent on the breeze. Skidding to a halt, she yipped to Greymist, allowing the pack to pass her by. Following the scent, she left the forest behind and set her paws upon rockier ground. The smell of acrid smoke and the pungent aroma of blood filled her nostrils. She whined low in her throat, sensing pain ahead, yet she could not turn back.

Finding a path that lead up the cliffside, she trailed the scent, noticing droplets of blood at uneven intervals. Something or someone was hurt. Proceeding up the cliff ever more cautiously, the she-wolf sniffed the wind. Whether it be man or beast, something nearby was suffering. Her hackles rose and she emitted a low growl. Fear registered within her. She topped the cliff, noticing a narrow opening in the rock face. Sniffing the wind once more, she was sure the smell was coming from within. On silent paws, she crept to the opening and peered in.

Near the rear of the cave lay a wounded dark elf male. His wounds were numerous, his color an ashen grey. She sensed he was near death and wondered why he was on the surface instead of deep within the Underdark. It made no sense to her. Behind her, Greymist whined, pacing to and fro. Stepping away from the cave, the she-wolf began to transform herself into her true figure. Where a wolf once stood on four paws, a female surface elf appeared in its place. She reached for Greymist, patting his silky grey coat affectionately and murmured, "Protect."

Checking her pack, she stepped back to the cave opening, entering slowly with weapon drawn. The drow weakly lifted his sword, his pain glazed eyes trained upon her every move.

"Usstan hass'l dos nau jivviim (I mean you no harm)," she spoke in soft drowish, thanking her father's insistence that she learn the dark elf language. When one lived so close to an entrance to the dreaded Underdark, it was best to know the ways of the beasties that dwelled there.

He coughed weakly, his blade still drawn. "Ssrig'luin nau xxizz dal dos, darthiir (Need no help from you, surface elf)."

"I come in peace. I can help you heal," she stated, dropping her pack near the smoldering fire. The drow dropped his sword, groaning in pain. Sweat beaded his forehead and upper lip.

"My name is Mistale Greencloak," she said as she opened her pack and kneeled beside him, assessing his wounds. "Looks like you've been in nasty fight."

He snarled weakly as a shudder of pain coursed through his body. Mistale pulled out her healing supplies, and grabbed a length of soft linen from her pack. Grasping her waterskin, she wet the cloth and bathed his face, washing away the sweat. Try as he might to bat her hands away, he hadn't the strength to succeed. "Xuat xta'rl uns'aa, tonaik darthirii (Don't touch me, dirty elf)."

"Usstan gumash ori'gato dos el, drill Usstan orn naut, tangis' ka dos ph' natha Ilythiiri (I could let you die, but I will not, even if you are a drow)," she replied, and then switched to common. "Let me help you."

"Dosst ka'lith orn tlu dosst elghinn (Your mercy will be your death)," he retorted before weakly slumping to his bedroll, the pain of his wounds stealing his strength.

A flush crept into her cheeks as she loosened and removed his garments. Try as she might, she couldn't help but allow her eyes to linger upon his toned and taut form as she evaluated the severity of his wounds. Small oozing gashes criss-crossed his upper arms. Another bisected his shoulder. She was certain one of his arms was broken, but the wound that concerned her the most was the gaping hole in his midsection.

"You're lucky to be alive," Mistale murmured, carefully setting his broken arm before she cleansed and bandaged the other wounds. She then applied a poultice made from several herbs to the wound in his abdomen. Afterwards, she began to pray. "Hear me, oh great Goddess. Give me the wisdom to heal this poor soul. Grant me all the knowledge I need to see him through this time of need."

Pulling a small pot from her pack, she filled it with water in which she would brew willow bark tea. Reaching for the dark elf male, she poured more water into a cup and raised him up ever so slightly. Coaxing him to drink, she tipped the cup to his lips.

As he greedily drank cup after cup of water, Mistale carefully studied his chiseled facial features. She delved a hand into his stark white hair, long and silky. White brows topped vibrant amber eyes, a straight nose, and high cheekbones. His strong firm jaw that held steadfast, forming the unwavering basis of his face, despite the fact his mouth was sloped downward and clenched cruelly in a grimace of pain. Her heart pounded as she perused him further. Her thoughts ran rampant through her mind. Who was this magnificent drow male and what had caused him so much harm?

Reaching into her pack, she opened a pouch of freshly picked red raspberries. Holding several in her hand, she began to chant, infusing each of them with magical healing. Then she coaxed him to open his mouth. He glared at her through his blazing tawny eyes, jutting his chin out in defiance. "Nau (No)!"

"SIYO (Yes)!" She retorted and held them to his lips. "Eat them, xsa'ol (dammit)!"

His glare turned harsh, manifesting the need to kill her. "Oloth plynn dos, darthiir elg'caress (Darkness take you, surface elf bitch)."

Mistale growled and shoved them into his mouth, clapping his jaw shut. "Please, this will help you."

"Nau xxizz, fridj elgg uns'aa (No help, just kill me)," he muttered through clenched teeth.

"No, I won't kill you. Let me help you."

He closed his eyes and chewed the berries, swallowing the sweetness. He allowed their healing power to take hold and settled back onto his bedroll. Mistale watched as some of the smaller cuts and wounds on his arms knitted flawlessly, nary leaving behind a trace that they had once marred his skin. She noted his color started to improve as well, going from the ashen grey to light onyx.

She felt his forehead, noticing he didn't feel as fevered as before. The wound in his midsection still troubled her. With a sigh, she gathered the healing powers of her most advanced spell to her hands and pressed it to his wound, letting the glorious light seep through the bandage. He trembled and hissed, spitting drowish expletives at her in rapid-fire succession.

Mistale ignored him, even though his words blistered her ears. She turned her focus to the pot of water upon the fire that had begun to boil. She removed it, adding willow bark and other healing herbs. She allowed it to steep and cool before coaxing the injured drow to drink. At first he fought her before reluctantly accepting the warm soothing drink. "V'dre lu' Usstan orn kyorl phor dos. Usstan orn ser dos sreen'aur (Rest and I will watch over you. I will keep you safe)."

Mistale stoked the fire and covered him with one of her blankets. Then she knelt where she could see the sun and began to pray, beseeching her Goddess to take pity on this male. She chanted in a mix of elven and druidic, placing him in a healing trance.

His color improved even more, turning lustrous obsidian, and she noted his labored breathing ceased, becoming more even and shallow. Mistale bathed him thoroughly, cleansing away the dried blood and dirt that stained his skin. Then she checked her store of herbs. She noted she'd need more willow bark, and cherry bark as well. She knew she'd have to return to the forest to replenish her supply if she intended to heal this wounded male back to full strength.

Leaving the cave, she returned to the woods and began searching for the herbs and roots she needed. Once she had an adequate supply, she noticed a party of Orcs skulking through the trees. Crouching near a thicket, she transformed into a wolf and blended in with the shadows of the underbrush.

They passed her by without noticing her presence. Her ears perked up as she picked out the word 'drow' in the harsh guttural language. She listened carefully, creeping ever closer to them. She knew by the few key words she could understand that they were looking for the drow. Perhaps they were the reason he was so badly injured. Her suspicions were conformed as she caught sight of the guisame one of them carried. He was the largest of the Orcs, his equipment looked nicer than all the rest, and he had a commanding aura about him. Yes, he had to be the leader, and it would seem they hunted her patient.

Mistale scrambled on all fours from one thicket to another, hoping not to be seen. She needed to get back to the cave and conceal it before the Orcs found it. She knew she had no hope of fending them all off and keeping the wounded male alive.

Once they had passed out of sight, she quickly headed back for the cave, keeping her keen nose to the wind to avoid the stinking beasts. Returning to the cave, she made sure she was inside before she transformed again. Immediately she checked the drow's condition, noting his fever had broken, causing chills to set in. Layering upon him yet another blanket, she stoked the fire, adding more wood to it from his dwindling stack. She'd soon have to forage for more, keeping an ever-watchful eye out for enemies.

A thought appeared in her brain and she knew she should heed it. She knew the best way to counter his chills was to add her own body heat to the equation. Don't think of him as an enemy dark elf, she cautioned herself as she slipped out of her garments and beneath the pile of blankets, then snuggled up to his shivering form as carefully as she could. Think of him only as someone in need.

The day passed. Mistale woke from her reverie; happy that the dark elf hadn't come out of the trance she put him in. If he had, she figured he'd likely slit her throat and leave her to die as he had begged her to do for him.

She crawled out of the blankets long enough to prepare herself some food and drink a cup of the tea. Then she pulled out her journal, noting the day's events. She mulled over meeting the drow. Her curiosity got the better of her and she dallied on a notion that this encounter would surely change her life. Her eyes flicked over his dark skin, centering on his delicious features. He certainly was a handsome fellow. She wondered how he came to be on the surface, and why the Orcs were hunting him? What had he done? And why was he all alone? Was he exiled from his house? Her questions were endless and yet there were no answers to be had until he woke.

Leaving the cave behind, she cast an enchantment on the rock face, covering the entrance with a multitude of brambles, spiny bushes and tangled vines. The Orcs would not find the dark elf while she was away. As the eastern sky darkened, the winds picked up and thunder rumbled in the distance. A storm was coming and it was bound to be a bad one.

There was no sign of the Orcs anywhere. She headed back down into the forest; foraging for fallen trees limbs she could chop into small useable pieces of firewood. She set a few snares, knowing that bringing in fresh meat for broth would help him recover his strength sooner.

Then she quickly scoured the surrounding area for wild vegetables and more berries, stowing them in a pouch before she returned to the cave. Carefully she squeezed through a gap in the brush that concealed the cave from sight and made her way back to the fire, stoking it before adding a good sized limb. She figured it'd burn for most of the night.

She made herself comfortable by the fire, pulling out a bottle of Elven Mead. After removing the cork, she took a long draw from the bottle and stared into the fire. Her mind wandered, lingering back to days of old in her village before a band of Orcs attacked en masse and took away nearly everything she'd ever loved, including her betrothed. She had barely survived, calling upon her druidic training and ability to shape change in order to make her escape from the burning village. Never since had she allowed herself to get close to anyone. She preferred the solitude of the forests and the fellowship of her faithful companion, Greymist. Setting aside the bottle, she wrapped her arms around her upper body and began to croon a lullaby her mother had often sung to her when she was but a wee elfling. The memories of what had been were too much for her to dwell on. Best put it in the past where it belonged.

Twilight was upon them as the storm broke, drenching the cliffs with torrents of rain. Lightning flashed and thunder rumbled, sounding like the spectral riders galloping across the heavens. Mistale moved to the entrance, dispelling the enchantment that kept them hidden and watched as the squall trekked its way through the valley below them. The rain stung her skin, chilling her to the core.

Stepping back, she reached for a blanket to wrap herself in and settled down by the fire once more. She stared across the flames and locked eyes with the lavender eyes of her patient. He was awake. She wondered how long he'd been watching her. She looked away, calming her racing heart. He definitely was a handsome devil; that was for sure.

"Ji uk dron (So he lives)," she spoke up as she met his gaze evenly.

"I told you to kill me, iblith srow (dirty scum)," He sneered at her, reaching for his sword, "Dos ph' natha wael, ssindossa (You are a fool, whore)."

Cool detachment fell upon her, though fury burned in her soul. "I'm not a whore, nor am I a piece of garbage. I saved your life more than once today. There's an Orc war party out there hunting you. I easily could've turned you over to them."

"And they might've used you as their ssindossa before feeding you to the trolls when they tired of the sport," he hissed in common.

"Why are they hunting you?"

"Nindel zhah naust d' dosst chaon (That is none of your business)," he chided her with narrowed eyes and curled lips.

"Fine," Mistale replied, her cheeks burning red with indignation. "Sorry I bothered caring for your worthless hide. I'll be gone in the morning and trouble you no more."

He chuckled weakly, "Lu' xun dos talinth Usstan orn izin nindel (And do you think I will allow that)?"

Her eyes widened. "Surely you don't mean you'd kill me to keep me silent."

"I'll do what I have to do," he remarked evenly, unblinking, his eyes fixed on hers. "You shouldn't have put your nose where it doesn't belong."

Then he slumped back to the bedroll, his reserves of strength depleted. He closed his eyes as reverie reclaimed him.

She eyed him warily as she remembered something her father had told her many years before. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, he would often warn. This dark elf very well considered her and her kind an enemy; therefore she should keep him close. Sighing, she removed the blanket, which covered her and snuggled in beside the drow. A little extra body heat couldn't hurt, she reasoned.

Waking early the next morning, she first took notice that the storm had passed and the sun was peaking over the horizon. Quickly she donned her clothing and stepped outside to greet the day. Swathes of pink, purple, orange and grey painted the eastern sky. She knelt before cavern entrance, praying to the Goddess, calling upon her for wisdom and strength. Then she memorized her chosen spells for the day.

She turned away from the cave, scouting the rocky cliffside for a new place to hide if indeed the Orcs returned. Up she climbed a rocky trail, following it until she crested the top and found a mountain meadow a short distance away.

She smiled as she wandered through the high grasses, inhaling the fragrant scents of the wildflowers that pushed their petals toward the sun. Meandering slowly, Mistale chanted softly to the sun, the wind, and the glorious nature around, singing out to its beauty.

Then she transformed into a hawk, taking flight rapidly. She soared on the winds, diving over the cliffs and to the forest below. She landed on a low branch, eyeing the snares she'd set the night before. Within one she noticed a fat squirming rabbit. Dropping to the ground, she immediately returned to her normal self and cut the rabbit from the snare. She pulled her knife and slit its throat. She whispered a small prayer to appease the rabbit's soul before she drained it of its blood and skinned the carcass of its fur. She gutted it and buried its entrails before wrapping it up. Then she returned to the cave.

The dark elf male was awake again and glared at her as she moved closer to the smoldering fire. His eyes flashed murderously, "Usstan inbalus kestalen dos orn'la inbal tlus yutri z'lonzic ulu sevir uns'aa wun gre'as'anto (I had hopes you would have been smart enough to leave me in peace)."

"Taudl ulu hojh dos, Ilythiiri (Sorry to disappoint you, Drow)," she replied as she sat near the fire, "Usstan inbal cahallin (I have food)."

"Keep it, iblith srow."

Color flooded her cheeks and she glowered at him. "Not hungry?"

He looked away from her, "NAU!"

"So be it," Mistale retorted as she prepared the rabbit, rubbing it with herbs before she placed it on a spit and set it over the fire to roast. "Are you thirsty? I have more water."

He rolled his eyes at her. "Keep your water. I have no interest in anything of yours, except your death."

Mistale sighed and ignored him, going about her business. She picked up her pack and pulled from it a book. Then she made herself comfortable on her bedroll and began to read.

She engrossed herself in the book while the rabbit sizzled over the flames. When it was fully cooked, she pulled it down and ripped the meat of the bone, setting it aside to eat with the wild vegetables she'd also gathered.

The smell of the roasted meat permeated the male's senses and made him lift his head. He watched intently as Mistale lifted a bit to her mouth, blew on it then took a bite. She followed it up with a few berries and some wild radishes then washed it down with a sip of Mead from the bottle that sat near her bedroll. His stomach growled loudly. He licked his parched lips and swallowed dryly.

Mistale's eyes met his and she held out the bottle of Mead. "You must be thirsty. Here, take a drink."

He spat a vile drowish curse and looked away, rolling to his side away from her. A cry of pain slipped from his lips as he pinned his broken arm beneath his body. Mistale scrambled to help him, pushing him flat on his back. He let out another string of curses, one so vile it stung her ears. She summoned to her hand another healing spell, pressing her palm to his arm. He hissed at her and reached for his blade with his good arm, bringing it up to stab her in the shoulder.

Mistale cried out as the blade raked her flesh. Jerking back from him, she reached her hand out and slapped him as hard as she could, calling flame to her hand. She pressed it to her wound, cleanly cauterizing it and hissed as the pain took hold. Tears rolled down her cheeks. She darted away from him, putting the fire between them.

"Bastard!" Mistale spat and reached for her sword belt, pulling her scimitar from within its sheath, and pointed it at him. "I should call the birds in here to peck your eyes out and feast on your flesh."

He mocked her, laughing maniacally until his dry throat clenched and he began to cough. The fit stole his breath. His eyes rolled back in his head. He collapsed to the blankets beneath him, falling again on his injured arm.

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