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  • They say that that of all the Enai, those of the woods, servants of the forest god Silyan were the most lively and friendly to the rest of the world’s creatures. With their small family groups, they accompanied their lord across the lands, never settling in one spot for more than a few weeks at a time. They traveled light, taking only enough food, tools and tamed animals with them to last them until the they reached the next destination. The woods were their favorite dwellings. There, after sun set each night and the moon goddess Vea awoke in her bed of clouds preparing to lift the ball of light once more, they would sleep. Some would lie down on the grass, others preferred to sleep on top of a tree. In the winter they would build temporary tents out of wood and twigs to shelter themselves from the wind and rain. They spent their days hunting for wild beasts or foraging for fruit and berries. The Enai women collected water from the streams or rivers which they used to cook their food. Unlike their mountainous and volcanic cousins who were renowned for their skills in metal work, the forest Enai had little use for weapons save for small steel knives they used to cut their food as well bows and arrows, which they used for hunting. Like their lord Silyan they were able to communicate with all manner of animals and birds. Like him, they also had a liking for music and would often sing as they went about their daily lives. Some would play their wooden flutes as they traveled to their next encampment.

    Avarrin belonged to this group. Though an adult, far beyond his childhood years he was considered young by the Enai. His exact age was impossible to determine, for Enai are immortal and even as centuries pass they age little. Like most of his kin, he was tall and strong with greyish, green eyes and hair the color of barley. He had a fondness for climbing trees and collecting herbs from the mountains. One summer lord Silyan chose a forest near a mortal village as their new encampment. As the Enai began gathering food, Avarrin climbed one of the large trees and he gazed towards the village. From there he watched as the farmers worked in the fields, children played in the streets, the crowds gathered at the market stalls to purchase their food and wares. He then looked west, towards the river bank were he spotted a young mortal woman washing her clothes in the water. She was pretty with long, dark curly hair and dark eyes. He smiled at this. Then his sister Danae called to him, asking him to come down from the tree and help the others prepare the meat for their meal. And so Avarrin did as requested.

    Yet the following day after returning from his daily stroll collecting berries and herbs, he climbed the same tree again and gazed once more at the village. This time he spotted the same woman running past the marketplace chased by an angry merchant. Avarrin heard others shouting at her but the words meant little to him. “What strange customs do these creatures have!” he thought to himself laughing. Despite this he felt all the more intrigued to learn more about this woman and so he continued to observe her from a distance.

    One night as lord Silyan and the Enai prepared to rest, the cloud formation changed. The once peaceful skies turned dark and they watched as the sky lord Ifir stirred up a storm. They took to the trees as the thunder rolled and bolts of lighting pierced the sky. From his favorite tree Avarrin observed the mortals of the village as they ran back towards their homes, in search of shelter from the storm. He spotted the same dark-haired young woman as she too hid herself inside a small hut.

    Then suddenly, much to his shock, a bolt of lighting struck the hut and a fire broke out. Avarrin closed his eyes and prayed to the fire god Fiehri begging him to spare the young woman. He hoped that she would make it out alive. Yet alas…The strong winds had forced the doors and windows shut and the fire spread swallowing all. Avarrin watched in horror as the flames devoured the wooden structure and the air filled with the dreadful stench of burning flesh. From the safety of the tree he heard her cries and he wept. Then at last the rain came pouring down and the villagers rushed to the site with buckets of water to put the fire out. By morning the storm had ceased and the village stood mostly undamaged except for the small hut which had turned to ash.

    That day lord Silyan announced that it was time to move on. So Avarrin helped the others pack their things and gather the animals. Yet as the other Enai began their journey, Avarrin thought of the woman again and he turned back towards the village. He hid by the trees until nightfall. Then slowly he walked towards the spot where the wooden hut had once stood. He rummaged through the ashes to see if there was anything left. A few small objects remained undamaged by the fire but he paid no attention to them. Then he found her lifeless charred body and he carried it with him back into the forest. He then placed it carefully inside one of the wooden tents and he instructed a wild dog to guard it. Avarrin then ventured out into the mountains in search of herbs. He mixed these with water from the river and used his hands to carefully apply them onto the woman’s corpse. He then placed his right hand on the woman’s forehand and whispered a spell in the Enai tongue, one he had once heard their elders utter to heal the wounded. As the sun rose in the sky, the burns slowly began to fade, the woman’s skin turned back to its original color. Her dark curly hair began to grow back. The muscles in her arms and legs started to twitch. Then finally she opened her eyes.

    Avarrin stood back in fear of her response. For a while she looked around in dismay, confused by her surroundings. The wild dog barked at her and she shivered in fear. The dog dashed off through the trees. Then the woman broke her silence.

    “Where am I? Who are you?” she uttered.
    Avarrin approached her carefully in the hope that she would not run away.
    “You are in the woods near your village. I brought you here after the storm.” he said.
    “The storm…I…The fire…what happened to me…?” she stammered still shivering. The last thing she recalled was running towards the door then the flames began to spread.
    “You died and I brought you back. You are safe now.” said Avarrin.
    “How is that possible?” – she asked.
    “My people are skilled healers and we have the ability to revive the dead.” Avarrin explained.
    “Who are you?” the woman repeated.
    Avarrin was silent for a moment then he responded – “I am called Avarrin”.

    The woman then came closer to have a look at him. For despite having many similar features to those of mortal men, Avarrin, like all of his kin was taller, fairer than mortals and in the sun light his skin shone with a green hue. Awestruck by what she had seen, the woman touched his face then moved back and yelled:

    “You are an Enai! An elf of the forest…”
    Avarrin smiled at this and he nodded. He then took out an apple from his bag and handed it to the woman. Then he stood back, watching her eat. He then offered her a wooden cup filled with water which she drank. Then they sat in the grass and they talked again.

    “I have heard stories of your people. They say that you travel with the forest lord Silyan and that you tend to the animals and the trees.” she said.
    “We do.”- Avarrin responded.
    “I remember as a child…My parents would send me to the collect flowers from the field and fruit from the orchards and to bring them to the woods as gifts for lord Silyan and his servants. They said that it will bring good luck and that the Enai would then protect us from the wild beasts.” – she continued.
    Avarrin smiled at this before responding: “Yes, we do our best to keep the beasts at bay and your gifts are most welcome. My sister Danae loves the lilies and our lord Silyan has grown quite fond of cherries. But enough about me and my kin… I have told you my name yet I still do not know yours…What do they call you?” – he asked.

    “Amara.” the woman replied. “I should go.” she added

    “Good to meet you Amara!” Avarrin said and gave her his hand, helping her to get up.

    “Go where? Everyone believes that you are dead. Do you have any family or friends who might be looking for you? Avarrin asked.
    “There is no one. I am not very well liked in the village. They caught me stealing again recently, luckily I got away in time.” she explained.

    “You can stay with me if you want” said Avarrin. Then he spoke again: “Now that you have eaten all of my food, perhaps you can help me fetch some more?”

    Amara nodded and off they went through the woods. Avarrin taught her the Enai ways and together they foraged for berries, fire wood and herbs. Occasionally they would go swimming in the river. In the nights they slept side by side in the grass. As the days passed they hunted for wild animals. Amara had little skill with a bow and arrows but she quickly learned to track the prey and retrieve it with the help of another of Avarrin’s wild dogs.

    One day he took her to the mountains in search of herbs. After gathering the herbs Avarrin wished to show her the view. So together they climbed one of the small mountain peaks and for a while they looked down at the valley below. Amara admired the wonderful sight and she swore to herself that she would never forget this day. Before they descended, she convinced Avarrin to stop at a cave. There within the rock walls she spotted a fist-sized, clear quartz crystal and she borrowed Avarrin’s knife to remove it. As they came out of the cave she gazed into it, smiling as the crystal’s light reflected the rays of the sun.
    She then handed the crystal to Avarrin and she uttered: “For you. I cannot thank you enough for all that you have done.”
    Avarrin examined the crystal and replied: “There is really no need for this gift. I wanted to help you and I ask for nothing in return.”

    Amara though refused to take the crystal back and she insisted that he kept it. And so Avarrin agreed and he put the crystal into his pocket. Amara smiled at him and they kissed. As the day drew to a close they descended down from the mountain and made their way back into the forest. That night and for many nights that followed they slept together under the stars.

    As the weeks went past Amara noticed a change inside her. She had less of an appetite and she grew tired quicker than usual. Avarrin soon noticed that her body had began to change too. It would not be long until she released what had happened. For like the mortals, the Enai can produce offspring and Amara was now carrying Avarrin’s child. At first they were happy and gave thanks to the lady Era-Gragiya for their newly found joy. Then as the months passed Amara became sickly and she could no longer accompany Avarrin in search of food. The winter came and even inside in the wooden tent Amara shivered from the cold. So Avarrin summoned a donkey from the fields and with its help he carried Amara into one of the caves.

    He stayed by her side leaving her only in search of more food. Yet still she ate little and grew more sickly, growing weaker with each day. She slept little, laying still on a bed of straw and animal furs. Avarrin prayed once more to Era-Gragiya to keep Amara and their child safe. One night the time came and Avarrin urged his love to push. Feverish and drenched in sweat Amara pushed as she struggled to breathe. Avarrin held her hands and tried to keep her calm. Hours passed, then finally Amara’s efforts had paid off. One final push then Avarrin watched as their infant came into the light. A healthy son with his greyish green eyes and Amara’s dark hair. Yet his joy was shorted lived. For as he held his son and prepared to wash him in the freshly heated water, he paused to look at Amara. To his horror he watched as her body shivered, more blood poured out and her limbs grew cold. He touched her forehead and he tried to slow her heavy breathing but to no avail. He washed the infant and wrapped him inside a fur blanket. Frantically he searched for the herbs he had once used to heal Amara’s burn wounds but this time none of them worked. As the dawn rose, Amara’s eyes closed and she breathed her last breath. Nothing, not even the spells he had used to revive her before were able to bring her back.

    Distraught by the sudden loss, Avarrin used some cloth to strap the infant to his chest and with the help of the donkey he carried Amara’s lifeless body out of the cave. He headed to the woods where he buried her remains by a tree. He hoped to find some flowers to decorate the grave but there were none for spring was still weeks away. He stayed there for a while weeping until his son cried out for food. Avarrin then used his powers to summon a mountain goat which provided some milk for his son. After feeding him Avarrin lay down inside the tent with his son in his arms. That night as they slept, a chilling wind made its way into the forest. By the tree, in the ground where Avarrin had buried his love, the Morkrai came for Amara. With one touch, the shadow beings released her spirit out of her body and they dragged it away down with them towards the iron gates of Makar’s halls. A horn was played and the gates were opened. They then guided Amara’s spirit into the halls to await her judgment.

    Later as he lay down inside the tent, he remained restless. Even as Natris dozed off in his arms, Avarrin did not. Gently he strapped the sleeping Natris to his chest and crawled out of the tent. He closed his eyes and whispered a spell, making himself and Natris invisible. In this guise he drifted deep into the ground, passing through several layers of soil, sand and rock. Then at last he found himself facing the tall iron gates and the dark structure behind them – the halls of Makar. Carefully he slipped past the gates avoiding the Morkrai guards and he walked into the black halls. Inside it was almost pitch black with just one very faint light of a blue flamed lamp at the back of the hall. There he found himself surrounded by a sea of shadows, pale faces and bodies of men, women and children. He spotted his beloved Amara among them standing still, with her hollow eyes staring blankly at the dark stone walls.

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