You contemplate taking an item out of your pack to drop it to determine how much further to the ground. As you struggle to figure out how to gain access to your pack, the rope shifts down again. Remembering you do have another short piece of rope in the pack you could use, you very, very slowly reach your left hand up to try to open the flap. Just at that moment, the rope tugs again and you hear it snap loose. The top of the rope swings past you on its way down while you simultaneously undo your pack since you do not want to fall with it on you. You glance one last time at the mist beneath you, then close your eyes.
You lose consciousness.
When you awaken, you are cold and wet. You open your eyes. Above you are two pools of shimmering blue green–beautiful luminous eyes in a pearl-shaped, pale face. A girl with red wisps of hair escaping from her brown hood stares down at you. “You are either a lovely vision now that I am dead, or an even lovelier one as I revive unharmed from that fall,” you comment with a bright smile.
The girl blushes, speechless for a moment. She then smiles softly and utters, “You are not yet deceased, although you may not be unharmed either. We should go to my village for our healer to check for any wounds.” She touches your shoulder lightly and helps you to rise. You are stiff, and wonder how far you did fall. Around you is a small pond, the shallow depth on the edge being where you landed. Pausing a moment before following the girl, you clear your throat and she turns back to look at you. You touch your chest and say, “My name is Bran from Moras wick. I am most pleased to make your acquaintance.”
The girl smiles softly again, outstretching her hand, “My people greet in this way by shaking hands.” You touch her cool, light hand.
“I am Elista of the Blue Elves. I do know of Moras, although our people have not met with humans for many ages. If you are ready, we should leave as you may go into shock from the fall and dampness.” She turns back toward her village and you notice the pack you dropped swinging on her left shoulder effortlessly. As you follow her, you dreamily muse how lovely to meet an elf, especially one so delightful and yet so surprisingly strong.
The glimmering moon casts a soft glow onto the wide and meandering trail as you follow Elista to her village. The area is wooded with a river running bubbling past, jetting out from the pool you had fallen into. Elista treads at a fast yet graceful stride such that you have to strain to keep pace. Realizing you are having difficulty with the speed, she slows down for you to catch up, then she backtracks to stand beside you as you both walk on the path side by side now.
“So what is the name of your village as I did not know elves lived in this area (nor that they even existed).”
“My village is behind a waterfall, where this river originates. You may have heard the legend about it if you know of the great battle called Silon, where humans took sides along with elves and many perished. After the devastation, the blue elves sought refuge to no longer be involved in the ways of men, so our village has been hidden away since that time. It is called Atlantis.”
Laughing out loud for a moment, you stop yourself at Elista’s quizzical glance, “I have heard tell of Atlantis, although there are many conflicting stories about it. None of which include elves living there,” you comment smiling.
“The name is ancient and used by my people to indicate our desire to not be sought by others nor involved in the ways of the world. The brown elves, our cousins, had tried to annihilate us, and although the battle destroyed all brown elves, we did not wish to have any further wars but live in peace.”
“Yes, my people had been at peace and sheltered in their ways for a great age as well. Sadly, there are those who are not human who do not care for peace,” you note forlorn.
Catching the sorrow in your tone, Elista asks, “Why do you use past tense and who are these non-humans that have caused this grief?”
You relate the story to her, providing a quick summary to the point where you fell into the pool and met her. You leave out all mention of Endar and the voice, however, not certain why, but sensing that this information should be kept private.
Elista shakes her head and softly touches your arm, “This is terrible news. Perhaps, my father knows of other human locations where you could journey to live.” On that note, you both abruptly stop as a large waterfall appears at the end of the path. Motioning for you to follow her, Elista proceeds to the rock wall to touch a spot there. A depression near the waterfall opens, and you both slowly enter behind it into a tunnel, while some mist off the waterfall gushing closeby spatters your clothes. The tunnel is wide and the air is still fresh not stilted as you had expected. A short distance, the tunnel opens onto a vista of open sky in a huge valley of trees with a multitude of quaint houses made of leaves and wood. There are tall rock shelves all around the sides of the valley. It appears you may well be the first person to find Atlantis, you gaily ponder, and your heart is far lighter and happier with each passing minute.
As you travel in the village, Elista leading the way to the healer’s hut, you amiably peruse the quaint elfin structures. They are simple and, from above, would likely appear to be a valley of green for concealment of their whereabouts. When you reach the healer’s place, Elista touches a protuberance near the doorway, and a chiming akin to a bird’s call emanates within. A soft light appears inside with the glow allowing you to see a brass plaque near the door engraved in gold, “Healer Houdlt M. Phantle” (or you think that is what it notes as the letters are in a fancy script barely legible in the dim light).
The door opens partway and a pair of yellow eyes peer out close to the ground. Elista states simply, “I met this boy at the pond. He fell from above and may have harmed himself.”
The door opens further, and you see a very small, old elf that is exceedingly short and wrinkled. He looks you up and down. Sighing, he waves for you to both come into the hut. Inside there are many containers and apparatuses you have never seen before littered throughout the room. You look at several of them with interest. The old elf clears his throat to re-gain your attention, “We would need to go back into my comfort room to examine you for any wounds.”
The comfort room has an elevated bed, and the elf motions for you to sit up on it. As the elf studies you with strange devices (one that he presses against you for you to breathe in and out, another that creates involuntary motions of your limbs, and yet another that he sticks in your mouth to gaze at your tongue), you wonder how any of these will help with your bruised legs or any other wounds you might have. Finally, he looks at the abrasions on your legs, and treats them with some liquid that burns cold and then hot. After this, he rolls a bandage onto your leg where the largest wound resides. He clips the wrapping with a small silver clasp.
Handing you a small vial, the elf tells you in a hoarse and wavering voice, “Take a single one of these each day at dawn until the container is empty.” You regard the bottle, then try to open it but cannot. Sighing, the elf takes it back and shows you the proper method to open the bottle. He then speaks to Elista who is standing nearby, “You may want to have this human leave before your father is aware he is in the village. He is not badly harmed and could follow the Elevated Path that leads out of the village and into the mountain tops .”
Elista quietly comments, “I had intended him to meet the king so that father can assist Bran in finding other human settlements. His people have been decimated by a band of cannibals who live in the upper mountains.”
Shrugging, the elderly elf states, “Do as you will. I need to return to my slumber, so I trust you can both locate the way to leave. Let your mother know that I have found some Ithomia patilla for the royal garden.
As you are readying to exit via the front door, a soft knock sounds on it. Looking at Elista, you wait for the healer to shuffle to it. He opens it a crack as he did before, and then after looking at the newcomer for a moment, he opens it wide. Into the room steps the most beautiful creature you have ever seen. Slender with pale, translucent skin and a shimmering white gown, an elf with long blonde hair and an angelic face looks back at you. She then turns her blue eyes onto Elista, asking in a light melodic tone, “What have you brought into Atlantis, my sister?”
Blushing dark red, Elista holds a steady gaze at her sister and chimes back, “This boy fell into the pond and was in need of assistance. I could not leave him there in such distress.” The firmness of her voice with each passing word gives her strength and she shifts her stance to defiantly and unflinchingly hold her sister’s attention.
A faint smile on her visage, the elf extends her long, pristine white hand out to Bran, “Pardon my manners. My name is Trieste, Elista’s younger sister. Welcome to our little village.”
You grasp her hand, gazing at it in wonder, in a daze. You forget to provide your name or introduce yourself to her. Elista, a bit perturbed, does this for you, “This is Bran of Moras. His people are gone now and he is alone, seeking to find other humans. We stopped here to check his wounds, and are now going to see the king.”
Nodding, Trieste replies, “Father sent me to find you as you were late back from the pond. He and mother are both awake and await your return, so we may have an audience with him now.”
You stand a moment still staring at Trieste who had taken her hand back after you held it so long. Clearing your mind by shaking your head, you weigh the idea that meeting the king (or Elista’s father for that matter) may not be a prudent choice. Before you follow the sisters out of the elf’s house, you stop a moment to ponder what you should do next.
Where should you go?