Here is what I did for August's challenge, 21 Days to a Novel. Putting it for the record.
Terhan Longquill did not have close friends. Many other dwarves sought is company, but Terhan considered himself a serious archivist and had no time to waste in such relationships. He was, however, incredibly social with strangers he met on the road, continuously coaxing stories out of them.
Once, in a human city, Terhan had met another collector of stories. She never wrote a single word down, instead keeping every legend she knew in her head. Terhan had never seen such an incredible memory, and he was loathe to leave the intriguing woman behind.
He is a proud dwarven archivist. His profession - the most revered among his people - is the very center of his life and heart. Nothing could stop him from roaming the lands and scribing down its history.
Tales of the dark dwarves frighten him, however. They, too, had been proud archivists sent underground to chronicle the history of the world below. The harsh conditions and ordeals turned them into bitter and resentful creatures, however, and Tehran did not want to end the same way.
Terhan has no time for love stories. The only aspect of love that interests him is how it can shape history. Other than that, he could not hold less interest in the opposite sex.
He has found his mind occasionally straying on other men, though. Sometimes, when the caravan had stopped near a village, he would sit higher on a hill to scribe, but he always ended absorbed by their lead carpenter's movements. There was a beauty to his back and forth movements as he worked that fascinated Terhan.
Terhan Longquill is a respected member of his travelling caravan. When a dwarven caravan is graced with the presence of an archivist, the latter quickly becomes an important part of it. Dwarves thrill on history, and it is Terhan's role to bring his caravan their fill.
Sometimes, he wishes they'd leave him alone. He could understand their need for a good story, but they slowed down his work terribly. Terhan often imagined how many more chronicle books he would have written had he not needed to waste hours sharing his stories with the rest of the caravan.
Terhan's only home is the faraway Great Library of Alghan. There, every archivist bring back their completed tomes and store them in the endless rows of shelves. Terhan could stay in there for months - which he has done once, in fact.
Sadly, archivists are bound to travel in faraway lands. They know that one cannot collect the world's history by staying put and waiting for the news to come: archivists must go out and meet the people, even though their hearts continually ache for the Great Library's peace. Only when they have completed a tome are they allowed home.
1. He wants to complete his book and return to the Great Library. The other caravanners kept bugging him for stories, however, and although he had most of the information he needed, he did not have the time to write it down.
2. Although he wouldn't admit it even to himself, he'd like to muster up the courage to talk to the lead carpenter. He was afraid it'd break up the charm and peace he felt when simply watching him.
1. He'd like to write a chronicle book about a major historical event. He hasn't been anywhere near such a thing, though, and he does not like adventure enough to risk it.
Every day, Ellistrie walks under a heavy hooded cloak. He knows he must hide his long ears and angular traits from most others, less he is thrown out of town. Even so long after the Psionic War, nobody likes the sight of an elf.
Yet, every single day, he wishes he could flaunt his heritage. Ellistrie does not like to lie about who he is, and the concealing clothes sometimes feels like it burns him. If it was not so dangerous to do so, he would throw it away.
The only member of his family Ellistrie really knows is his father. During four decades, he listened to the man talk wistfully about his mother's beauty and elegance, yet he never saw her. All he knows is that he has been gifted with his father's long nose and dark hair, along with his stubbornness and pride.
Every day that passes, however, he feels that pride slip away. The constant deceit was too much for him, and it ate at his core like nothing else ever would. Every day, Ellistrie wished he could have lived openly with his entire family, instead of being constantly on the run with his father.
Nobody would hire him for a real job. Elves were reviled and untrusted, and no matter how often he tried, they wouldn't give him a job. Ellistrie would take anything, no matter how dirty and hard, as long as it was honest work.
He refused to plead to obtain what he wanted. When he would finally have a job, he would have earned it. Ellistrie might hate his current life, but he sought the others' acceptance, not pity.
Ellistrie is always alone. Time has taught him not to trust others, and his own pride drives him away from the others. He hated it when people saw him in his ragged clothes, begging for money.
Since his father died, however, loneliness tugs at his heart. He'd met no other elves on the road since and had nobody to share his troubles with. Ellistrie was in need of someone to confide in, but no normal being would willingly approach him.
Ellistrie collects coins. Depending on the region he is in, the coins' designs changed. He kept a sample of each coin in a separate pouch and treasured it.
Life costs too much for him to afford a real hoard, though. Often, he is forced to choose which coins to give away and which to keep. Although it may seem silly, Ellistrie feels like a part of him is wrenched away every time he must use one of his collection coins.
1. He wants a honest and open job where he does not need to hide. Whenever someone distrusts him - even a little - he reacts bitterly and snaps back: not a good way to acquire said job.
2. He wants a friend. He doesn't let the others approach him easily, though, as he is afraid to be pitied or hated.
1. He wants to bring some acceptance toward the elven races, but Ellistrie is not an exemplar of generosity and kindness, and he has no concrete plans to achieve his goal.
2. He'd like to establish a family and be able to settle down. The thought of someone trusting him - let alone loving him - is so absurd that he has never dared to try.
Three Time's the Charm - Alezia
Alezia always wears a bandana. Not only does the thing hold her long blonde hair back, but it also covers her ever-so-slightly pointed ears. Her delicate features and tanned skin are all due to a diluted elven parentage, but those are wildly accepted by humans - unlike the tell-tale ears.
Those who have seen under the bandana can no longer speak of it. Some have strangely forgotten; others died: no matter, as long as they remembered Alezia as wholly human. Anything else would make her too easy to remember and too easy to unravel.
Alezia works as a mercenary - or so she tells everybody. While she does take the occasional job, her real income is from the Legacy of the Mind. The secret organization supports all those who have inherited their sun elven ancestors' gift.
While back-up is good, Alezia doesn't like to be so dependent. She works alone and firmly believes she should be capable of handling any situation on her own. The Legacy's only purpose is to help develop her talent without making it public.
Alezia is dynamic and energetic: she cannot stay put for long. She typically takes care of multiple projects at the same time, and when something takes too long, she gets impatient. To her, everything needs to move on - and quickly.
When things seem to regress, she quickly gets mad. It often leads her to behave rashly and make mistakes, but Alezia nonetheless prefers to have tried than to sit back, arms crossed. She is a woman of action, and with the lack of recent developments, she intends to act at the first opportunity.
Her mind is Alezia's most powerful tool. The near-extinct sun elves were powerful psion, and it is something Alezia has inherited from them. Although many moon elves also have the gift, her blood is purer and her technique stronger.
That makes her very valuable for the Legacy of the Mind. They frequently ask her to report in and keep a close watch on her. When she discovered they were not so insistent with other members, Alezia began to worry about their intents.
Though many may call her so, Alezia does not make friends. She smiles and talks to about everybody, bringing them to put their trust in her, but she never returns it. She has better things to do, and others only slow her down.
All those contacts sometimes come in handy, though. Although her memory is phenomenal, Alezia cannot know everything, and she has come to the conclusion others could fill up the blank. She has taken a particular interest in keeping contact with those knowledgeable - or with an access to a wide base of knowledge.
1. Find information on Elie Samarran's or the Hive Mind's location. It required very obscure knowledge, however, and Alezia's contact who could get her started was constantly travelling.
2. Accomplish her last mission from the Legacy of the Mind. This required her to find an elf, Ellistrie Samoral, and his last known location was a large city.
1. Revive the art of psionics. Centuries had passed since it was lost to common knowledge, and the Legacy hoarded the knowledge like a dragon would his coins.
2. Find why the Legacy treats her differently. Not so easy, when most members live in secrecy and have practised the art of lying for years.
Ellistrie walked into the small room to find it a mess. Not all of it, just the desk, but the small wooden furniture was set in the center of the wall, right in front of him, and seemed to fill the entire hotel chamber. Crumpled ball of papers had been thrown in the bin and on the ground and even on the nearby beds. The elf frowned and moved further in, picking up one of the ball of paper on the ground and unfolding it. The writing was simple, elegant and graceful.
You are the first elf I meet that is not of the Legacy, and have been a wonderful companion. In the few weeks we have spent together, I have learned much from you. You never give up, or hide, or stop trusting others. It takes a strange kind of courage, Ellistrie, to continue doing the same thing, over and over again, knowing perfectly it will not work, yet hoping that someday, perhaps, it will.
You may have been only a street boy, with no knowledge or particular skills, but your help in researching the Hive Mind was invaluable. Someday, I swear, I'll find it, and elves will be revered once more. Psionics will be common knowledge, and its power no longer reviled by the other races. You are my kin, Ellistrie, no matter how distant the blood that flows through our veins.
And for that, I am truly sorry it had to be this way. The Legacy of the Mind is a dangerous organization, and its intent obscure to me, but it still has its uses. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me -- for the cause."
Ellistrie's frowned had deepened as he slowly read through the words. He did not understand them. His gaze searched the room for an answer, until they rested on a smooth, clean piece of paper, with only two lines of Alezia's writing on it. It was the final version, he realised, and he moved to read it.
I am sorry it has to be this way.
That was all, and it did not help any. Then the elf heard someone step in the doorway, as silent as a cat. There was a clicking sound, and something pinched his neck. His head grew cold and dark and dizzy, and the floor reached up for him.
Now he understood.
Conversation, with Action, and a Third
Terhan arrived on the scene, his flat and large feet thumping on the ground rather loudly. Neither of his former companions seem to hear, however: they were far too absorbed by one another. Ellistrie was in a cold and damp cell, wearing only a set of stained clothes. His typical hood was nowhere to be seen, but he didn't seem to care in the slightest. Alezia had changed into dark clothes embroidered with the Legacy's symbol. She was leaving the cell without a look back at him.
"Hey, Cause Champion, don't run away like that! You can't just walk out!" Ellistrie had stood up in a flash and ran to his cell's bars, grabbing them. He was staring at Alezia's back, his cheeks flushed with anger. She slowly turned around and looked back at him.
"I can... I will. It's not like you can follow me." Alezia was leaning backward slightly, something she always did when she was amused. A light smirk danced on her lips, further proving Terhan's impression of mocking.
"I can't. But you came. You must have had a reason." Ellistrie watched her, arms crossed, strands of black hair falling over his face. She stopped her movement, no longer intending to leave. Her long strides carried Alezia to the cell bars in an instant. Her face was set in stone, yet her eyes were ablaze with anger.
"I wanted to insure that you were unharmed, as I had been promised. That is all." She tapped twice on his chest, with two fingers. Her mouth moved slowly, as if she needed to pronounce each word clearly.
"Bullshit!" Ellistrie shook his head and slapped her hand away, before retreating further into the cell. "That's not why, I know it's not. You're not cold like that."
Alezia let out a small laugh, but in the few seconds the elf had stopped looking at her, her mask had fallen. Her face had screwed up, as if in pain, and she'd touched her forehead lightly. The emotion was all gone with a deep breath, however. "I am. Get that in your head, fool... It will facilitate both our lives. I lied to you. I've tricked you. All I wanted was the information, nothing else."
Ellistrie looked back and shook his head. "Right. What was the letter about, then? The small note? The 'I'm sorry about this'? Stop shitting me, Alezia! I can tell the difference."
He kicked a small clump of dirt her way as he replied and shook his hand in the air, as would one holding a tiny bit of paper. She lifted her head, her lips thinning down, her tanned skin paling. Her entire body stiffened.
"You're a fool. You wanted someone like you - someone with dreams and hopes, someone who fought for the elves, who tried to change the way the world goes. And yes, I am that, but you have always embellished it. I don't hope for the best: I act for it. I'm realist: I won't get anywhere if I can't make sacrifices. That's what you are. That's all you are."
Ellistrie shook his head even more strongly. With two long steps, he was at the cell's door and had grabbed her hand. He leaned forward, resting his forehead on the cold iron bars. "I won't believe it."
She jerked her hand back. "I know. Your incapacity to see reality as it is does not impact on my future, and is as such irrelevant."
Ellistrie scoffed. "Oh, suck up the big words, Alezia. You only ever do that when you feel like you need to distance yourself! What bothers you is that I can see the truth, but it's not the one you want. I see someone who lost control, who went from playing two sides to be played by both of them. The Legacy's using you, because you're different, and they know it, so they turn you into a useful pawn. That's what you are. That'll all you are."
His hands made a shooing motion as he replied, after which he rested them on his thigh. He was standing straight and proud, and although Alezia had always had two more inches, Ellistrie seemed taller than her now. Each of the elf's short sentences were punctuated by a movement from his hands, and Alezia was subtly - probably unconsciously - moving back from him.
"You're wrong... I can handle myself." Her words were spoken so low Terhan could barely hear them. She looked down, her shoulders hunched ever-so-slightly.
The expression on Ellistrie's face softened, and he moved closer to the bars, again reaching out for Alezia. "Sure you can. I'm just saying that if you'd have stayed with friends, you'd have no need to. Don't you think it's good when someone has your back?"
She ignored the offered hand and snapped her head back up. "I would not have accomplished anything."
"Sure you'd have. You already had. Your problem is, you're only looking at the big bits."
"I told you: I have great visions, and I intend to see them come to fruition. My efforts will not be wasted in companionship - like yours are when you attempt to change my path." Giving him one last stare, she walked away from the cell.
"No effort is ever wasted..." Ellistrie sighed heavily and slumped to the ground.
Terhan decided he'd had enough. Alezia was not supposed to be leaving him in his cell. That was not the deal, and he stepped out to state just that. "That's not our deal."
"Our deal doesn't hold anymore." She'd taken a step back, startled as he stepped out from the crates he was hiding behind. "I cannot free him."
"Nothing that I see stops you." The dwarf took a step forward. He had a small hammer in his hand, but that did not scare Alezia. She knew how bad a fighter he was.
"But you are blind, Longquill." She smirked, leaning backward again. "You only have half of the picture, and you act consequently. Our deal was done consequently, but my view has changed."
"What deal? What half?" Ellistrie was back up on his feet, his gaze shifting between the dwarf and half-elf in turn. Both turned to face him.
"When I gave your location to the Legacy, I did so with Terhan's consent." She was smiling now, in control again. Ellistrie stared at her blankly, his hands sliding down the bars, lifeless.
"Because you were going to free him after!" Terhan stomped past Alezia, glaring up at her, before stopping in front of the bars. "I would not sell you to those lunatics."
Ellistrie looked up at him and scoffed. "I'm behind those bars, aren't I?"
"It's her fault!"
"Blame games are for children, Longquill." She waved at him dismissively. "I understand more now, and Ellistrie must stay here. I cannot set him loose."
"Loose? I'm not an animal!" The elf kicked at the bars angrily, before biting his lower lip from the pain.
She laughed. "No, you're something else altogether. Animals are intelligent enough not to hurt themselves on the cage they are kept in." She took a few steps toward the door, and Tehran raised his hammer. Alezia only laughed harder and shook her head. "I will be warning the guards, Longquill. There is nothing you can do for him. Perhaps you should think of our dear carpenter instead."
Terhan stopped short, his face whitening. He glanced at Ellistrie, then back at Alezia. "Darrum will be fine."
"He can only distract the guards without endangering himself so much..." She shrugged, indicating the matter was not her problem, and left the room. Terhan took a step to follow her, frustrated, but he realised he still had to take care of Ellistrie. He returned to the cage, looking at the mechanism. His mind was elsewhere, however: images of Darrum getting impaled or shot or cut down kept dancing in his head.
Ellistrie let out a heavy sigh. "Go."
Terhan Longquill did not look back twice.
Terhan is, in many ways, the embodiement of dwarven culture. Since the Shadow War, his kinsmen have lived in caravans, travelling the world and never staying put very long. They have took it upon themselves to record the world's history, insuring that none his lost to time and that people remember their mistakes. For Terhan, archivist isn't only a profession: it is an ideal and a lifestyle, and it is essential to the world's well-being.
Yet while Terhan holds dear to this noble chronicling task, he is careful not to let it take over his life. He knew the stories of dark dwarves, driven mad by the harsh conditions underground, resenting the entire race for the task their ancestors had chosen to accomplish. These dwarves were bitter and lost to the archiving cause, and Tehran feared that fate more than any others. Although he would tell no one, he was scared that something in his life may someday conflict strongly enough with his job that he could quit neither, and be driven mad. To avoid this, he has often kept others at bay.
Elves are few and far between, and Ellistrie knows that if he walked the streets openly, there would soon be one less on the map. Since the Psionic War and subsequent debacle, their numbers had dwindled greatly: gnomes hunted them down relentlessly and humans were more often than not happy to help them out. Elves had been forced to live in hidden settlements, sail with the Keithari or keep constantly on the move.
In that, Ellistrie differed from his kin. He refused to sequestrate himself from the world on account of deeds comitted by other elves. The Psionic War was centuries gone now and his kin had paid dearly for their mistakes. He believed it was time to move on, and did all he could to make himself accepted in human lands. Repeated failures have made him more wary, but he still hasn't given up.
He developed the habit of collecting coins as he went around human regions. Coins were common, and people barely spared their appearance a thought; they cared only for their worth. That was Ellistrie's hope for his race.
Alezia is an oddity and has been one since her birth. Both her parents sported the moon elves' dark hair and fair skin, yet, even as an infant, she had been gifted with pale golden hair and a tanned skin - features that belonged to sun elves. Her mother swore to no adultery and, even had she admitted to such a thing, no sun elf had been seen in ages. Some even believed them extinct.
That strange, unexplained parentage is also the source of Alezia's powers. Sun elves were fabled for the strength of their minds, and she picked up psionics naturally - which swiftly brought her the attention of the Legacy of the Mind. Knowing she set her settlement ill at ease, she was glad to join the organization and accept their protection. Now she knows the Legacy's help comes with strings attached, and she did not like it. Life had taught Alezia to stand on her own two feet, without help, and although she shared goals with the Legacy, she cared little for being treated as a pawn. Besides, she had never been one for waiting, and the Legacy seemed to think it best to remain cautious and hidden. She would only listen for so long...
When it comes down to his archiving job, the dwarves do all they can to help Terhan along. The problem was, they didn't make the entire world all by themselves. Travelling was a dangerous business in some regions; monsters and bandits prowled the land, preying on caravans such as his. The dwarves had long since learned to fight back, but it was never without risk, and always a waste of time.
More than the road's danger, there was also the people's unwillingness to share their stories. With time, Terhan had become skilled at coaxing information out of them with a variety of tactics, but some were always more resilient, and sometimes they wanted nothing to do with him. How was he to chronicle the every day life of commoners if they would not tell him about it?
Those were daily inconveniences, and though they inconvenienced him, they were not things Terhan felt strongly about. One thing, a simple thing, part of many men's life, scared him: passion. Passion so quickly turned to obsession, and could drive anyone mad. The dark dwarves' fate had proven that, and Terhan often encountered men who'd lost themselves to one obsession or another -- he did not want to be one of them.
Some days, Ellistrie felt like the entire world was against him. He was feared and avoided and hated for things he had not done, and that blocked any of his attempts at getting a normal life. Some people dreamt of an adventurous life -- he dreamt of leaving his for regular living. The gods had not seen fit to give him that yet, so Ellistrie kept travelling from one town to another. The road was dangerous for a lone man, but not as much as staying put.
Often, he wished his father was beside him. Gnome Psion Hunters had caught up with them, however, and in the chaos he'd been split from him. He could not go around asking about an elf without being immediately targeted, and his search and given up nothing. He knew nothing of his other relatives and was, in short, alone in a world of strangers, all of which seemed to hate him. He was loathe to admit it, but that scared him deeply. He wished someone would trust him.
Alezia plays her game alone, and every one else is her opponent. Outside of the Legacy of the Mind members, she trusts nobody with her elven parentage and psionic talents. Human and gnomes and dwarves and even the Keithari -- all were liable to turn her in, and so she would not let them get close. That, however, meant she had to be doubly good at hiding her true self from people, for her missions often required her to speak to and 'befriend' them.
Then there was the Legacy. While a potent ally, the organization's strange behaviour towards Alezia made her uncomfortable and suspicious. They fussed over her powers and always made certain she had all she needed and often even let her choose the missions she wanted. She would be fine with it, had she known the reason for their actions. As long as their motives remained hidden, Alezia could not trust them to help completing her own goal: finding the Hive Mind and spreading psionics throughout the world.
In itself, Terhan's goal will not change the world. For it to be accomplished, however, the World needs to shifted by one major event. The dwarf does not really care which want: if it rocks the current foundations, shifts the power source or changes people's view of certain aspect, it is good enough. He seeks an event that touches thousand of lives, for good or bad.
Being closed enough to such a story is dangerous, however, and the world may very well push him back from it. Unless he takes a direct part of the action, Terhan will be nothing more than a bystander and would see everything only from an outsider's point of view. Information is not always easy to come by: most often, people prefer to keep it hidden.
Should he have any success with them, Ellistrie's actions would cause tremendous ripples in the world. The acceptance of one elf will lead to another, and then to another, until the race has slowly resurfaced into every community. From there on they would be likely to become more and more numerous, restoring their numbers to a more stable level.
This, however, would require a lot of work. Humans do not want elves back in. Gnomes actively prevent them from doing so. If one elf achieves a normal social status, they are likely to hunt him down immediately and remind the people of this town of the undying ambition and arrogance of elves of old. Escaping the gnomes' wrath would require other races to back up the elves - alone, they are no match for the military people.
Psionics have been lost to most of the world for centuries. Should they be brought back into open light, to be taught to a wide variety of people, there would be an incredible uproar. More than the elves themselves, their psionic abilities were feared and reviled during the Psionic War and the subsequent hunt. Scars from the great battles have not healed, and the psion hunters would be widely supported.
In order to really succeed, Alezia would need to make the art accepted - to change the way it is viewed upon by the other races. If psionics brought major benefits to everyone, however, she could pull it off and make the art more accessible. Acceptance of psionics is also liable to smoothen the path for elves.
Although the dwarf was well-travelled and had seen many wonders, the Looking Glass had immediately impressed him. At first look, it had seemed like the tables were set outside, but as Terhan walked closer, he caught the sun reflecting on crystal-clear glass. He followed the barely visible walls’ line as they arched above the dinning custumers, the corner of his mouth curling into a smile. The craftsman behind this had been an expert; multiple pieces of glass had been used, yet the connection between each was barely visible. It looked like a small greenhouse, and while indeed there were plants inside, humans were the prevalent species inside. He had walked in without hesitation, hoping he would be able to talk to its owner and get the restaurant's story out of him.
The waiter came for him quickly, and he was led to an opaque glass table, in the southern end of the restaurant. Terhan thanked him as he sat down and looked around. Two men dined at the table next to his. The first was small and plump, and waved his hands around as he spoke in a deep but low voice. Every single finger sported a different ring, all of which either had a stone inset or showed intricate patterns. This was a wealthy man, Terhan guessed, and from the way he constantly patted his companion on the arm and gave him warm smile, he was trying to curry favour. The other man looked down at him coldly, however, and seemed to barely listen to his words. From the way he sat – straight, at the very edge of his dark brown chair – and kept looking outside, Terhan could tell he was a prideful man, and considered his time in the restaurant to be wasted.
Terhan was wondering why he’d came in the first place when a lithe figured walked straight past him, his strides lengthened by anger. He wore a black cloak, stained and torn, and stank so much the dwarf felt his appetite diminish instantly. The buzz of ongoing conversations fell down as many customers turned to watch him: it was not frequent to see one so dirty in the Looking Glass, but even that was more common than meeting an elf. The long ears jutting from his greasy dark hair – which, Terhan noted, had been recently brushed – were unmistakable however. The elf threw the crowd a bitter, resentful look before hurrying out of the room. His shoulders were hunched under the cloak, though, and the dwarf wondered what defeat had put such weight on him.
At the table beside him, the bored noble used the interruption as an occasion to escape. He muttered an excuse, stood and swiftly strode away from the opaque table, leaving his plump companion with no favour and a bill to pay. Terhan shook his head, smiling slightly: if he had wanted something, the wealthy man should have loosened his purse, not his tongue.
When the waiter came back to his table, the archivist realised he had been too busy observing people to even glance at the menu.
When Ellistrie left the director’s office, with another job denied to him because of his parentage, he did not care for his surroundings. He stalked between the tables, taking no heed of those staring at him, staring at his face and ears. Tonight he would spend another night huddled in a shady corner of some random alley, the nauseating smells filling up his nose and keeping him from sleep. Every single person in this room could afford a meal that would get him roof, bed and meagre meals for two weeks, yet none of them cared. He stopped, glaring at the gathered crowd, tempted to leash out at them but knowing it would change nothing. With a resigned sigh, he started off again.
Ellistrie was so preoccupied that when he pressed his hand against the glass door and pushed, it resisted him. He realised quickly that this wall was not, in fact, the exit – the actual door was a foot to his right, stained by the multiple hands that had touched it. Cursing the perfectly transparent walls, he hurried out of the restaurant. Behind him, people were snickering and whispering to themselves. All the fear he might have commanded a moment ago was gone, and now he was nothing more than an idiot dressed in rags to them. It seemed his day would not be getting any better.
Once outside, the elf threw himself against the closest wall and let himself slide down into a sitting position. He pulled the hood back up, knowing he had already drawn too much attention to himself. It mattered little, however: he would have to leave the city soon. Over the past month, he’d tried every single establishment in which he’d thought he had even the slightest chance, asking for work of any kind. None had agreed. The Looking Glass had been his last hope, but that was gone now. There was no point in staying any longer: hunters would have heard of him by now.
He stared at the glassy restaurant, his eyes drifting to the very spot he had left his hand shape. They would clean it up soon, and he would be only a memory. Most of those inside had already forgotten him and turned back to their delicate and pricy meals, although a few closer to the exit still threw him curious glances. Ellistrie smirked and waved at them; they hurriedly turned away and gave all their attention to their companions and food. Although he hated them for hoarding their money, Ellistrie also envied them. They did not have to worry about where they would next sleep, or when they would next eat. Most likely, their only concern of the day had been what to pick out of the menu, or whether they should go to the tavern or not tonight.
Ellistrie bit his lower lip and bent his head, looking away, at the ground and at his dirty boots. The Looking Glass restaurant was a window into a world he would never be allowed to join.
It was said that the great elven cities of old were built out of special crystal, shaped from the sun elven psions’ mind. They had transformed even the surrounding trees, and the crystal leaves showed green lines where sap would travel. Walls would hold strange, peaceful rainbow colours and be kept opaque. Walkways were a dark green, not unlike the trees’ veins, and formed clear path through the crystal towers. It was a thing of pure beauty, an exquisite show of the elves’ power. Beside them, the Looking Glass would be only a pale copy. No one would be amazed at the clear glassy walls. No one would care.
Alezia certainly did not, although she was glad for them. She had come here hunting her target, and now the elf had left the restaurant in a rush. At first she had thought she would have to abandon her meal and follow, but Ellistrie never went far. He slumped against a wall, miserable, and pulled his hood back up. Alezia smiled and continued eating, all the while keeping an eye on him. The food was not bad, but she had seen more enjoyable places. The glassed room was too hot and humid for her taste: Saun’s relentless assault pierced the walls and warmed the room beyond comfort level.
She wished they had put windows. Glass walls certainly provided with a similar view outside, but they lacked the ability to let a refreshing gust of wind in. Cool air had rushed in as Ellistrie rushed out, but that was not enough to dissolve the still humidity that grew here. She sighed; no one else around seemed to notice how stifling the restaurant was. Perhaps she was simply too picky, yet every other customer drank his water had an alarming rate. They were willing to endure the heat to enjoy the wonderful glass setting. So would Alezia be, had she been given a glass of water. She had no such thing, however, and no waiter was heading her way.
Letting out an exasperated sigh, Alezia sprang to her feet. She dropped enough coins on the table to pay for her meal but left little for the absent waiter. Heat always cut off her appetite and destroyed her mood. The restaurant would have been a great option to watch over Ellistrie, but she could bear with this no longer. Better to seat outside – even if on the ground – than to wait without a cool breeze to bring relief. As long as she had a good view of the moon elf’s cloaked form, she would be happy.
Alezia brushed her hand against her bandana, making sure it was firmly in place. She then headed for the door in long, calm strides that belied her irritation. Smiling slightly at the grease mark left by her target’s hand, she stepped out and let the cooler air envelop her.
Every night, Ellistrie wished he could simply settle down and raise a family. The one he got was not what he had expected.
For centuries, his kin has hidden and ran, feared and reviled by other races. When a lone elf defied prejudices to settle in human society, he attracted unwanted attention. Humans wanted him out, dwarves sought his story and secret organizations asked for his allegiance. Admist all of them, an old power bestirs.
And none of them will let him rest.
P1. Terhan is sitting on a tree trunk, near the shore, once more distracted from his work by Darrum's slow and almost graceful movement. He isn't writing, although his books is open. His mind is on the other dwarf, and he is pondering how he could get his attention: the carpenter had never given him and his tales the same interest than the other caravaners.
R1. Terhan sits at candlelight, late into the night. Safe for the guards, the caravan is asleep. He is bent over his book, trying to finish it. No words come out from his mind and quill: he is blocked. Something is missing to his account on the people of this region, and although he knows not what. One more story was needed - a different one, that would not repeat what had been said dozens of times already.
C1. The caravan had stopped into a rather large city, on its way out of the region. It had already been visited in the past, but they needed supplies for their travel. As he sat broodingly in a baker's shop - the scent of bread and pastries always made him feel better - when a dirty elf stormed past him, out of the employee's back door. An elf. The sylvan folk were rarely seen in human lands, and Terhan knew he had found his story.
D1. Terhan did not have his writing tools with him - no quill or ink or parchments. He would need to grab them, but if he left the elf would vanish in the large city. Instead he followed him through the streets, easily following the ragged cloak - people gave a wide berth to him when they saw the pointed ears. When the elf took a side street, he followed after and called to him. Hopefully appealing to a good pay or the archivist's cause would get him a story.
S/F1. Angry and bitter and not-very-receptive, the elf doesn't even give him his name. He could not care less for the noble compilation of information that is his job. He hesitated when Terhan got the silver out, but ended up straightening his back and refusing. Terhan sighed and left the coins anyway: the elf was so gaunt and thin that the dwarf wondered if he had eaten in the last days. He would need another plan.
P2. The elf refused to give him his story and left. Now Terhan did not know where he was, and how to make him talk.
D2. He asked the caravan's dwarves to look for him and went to the baker shop to learn what the elf had wanted.
S/F2. The baker told him the elf had come for a job, and was rumoured to have done so in multiple shops already.
P3. A gnome Psion Hunter took Terhan's archivist book hostage.
R3. Weary from two days of search for the elusive Ellistrie, Terhan was walking through Tellona's warm streets to go back to his caravan. He could see the gates ahead when a strong hand grabbed his arm and tugged him out of the street. It was Darrum, with news of the elves.
C3. After Alezia told them she needed to get into the Great Library, they realised they needed Terhan's book for that -- completed.
D3. They waited for the gnome hunter to catch up, giving up all stealth.
S/F3. Terhan got his tome back, but he was wounded in the process, their horses were killed, and the closest village not close at all.
P4. Terhan was wounded while recovering the book.
C4. They need him to go into the library.
D4. Alezia finally reveals her power, and tells them she could drain part of the wounds and share them.
S/F4. Both Alezia and Terhan are weak and wounded, but capable of riding to the Library.
P5. Terhan always wanted to record a great story, but has no such thing at hand.
R5. Sitting around and waiting will never help him get that story.
C5. If Alezia was to discover and free either Ellie Samarran or the Hive Mind, he would be a close witness to something grand. He needs to help her.
D5. He completes his tome with Ellistrie's story, allowing the four of them to search through the Library for information.
S/F5. They searched the bookshelves for a week and came up with a very detailed story of what had happened to the artifact and the god, but nothing on their location. All the dwarves had recorded was that the great prison in which the elven god had been built by the artifact's energy.
P6. Alezia is about to betray them to the Legacy of the Mind.
R6. He questions her about the organization and she mentions they have lore on psionics that has been kept from most populations.
C6. He knows they will get nowhere with what they currently have, but is reluctant to just give them Ellistrie.
D6. Alezia and him build a small rescue plan to get Ellistrie out once she has the information.
S/F6. Tehran manages to sneak all they way to Ellistrie's room while Darrum creates a distraction. Alezia refuses to let him go, however.
P7. After their attempt to free Ellistrie, the Legacy of the Mind left their hideout.
R7. Terhan comes back the following day to spy on the place, but finds that there is no one.
C7. The archivist has been tending to Darrum's many wounds at an inn when a one-armed gnome steps in for a room.
D7. Deciding it was time to get some specialized help against the psions, Terhan confronts him.
S/F7. Raiding the Legacy of the Mind is appealing enough to the gnome psion hunter to make him come to a reluctant agreement: he is to leave Ellistrie alone.
P8. Three is not enough to raid a group of psions.
C8. The Legacy of the Mind has to treck around the gnome lands to get to their destination. They can cut through them and recruit other fighters.
D8. Terhan convinces his gnome companion to bring only a few friends with him: he fears too many will endanger Ellistrie.
S/F8. When they leave the gnome lands, three new elite Psion Hunters follow them. They, too, have vowed not to touch Ellistrie.
P9. Ellistrie has been gifted with a honour guard.
R9. When dwarves and gnomes catch up with the Legacy in the great crystal cities, they find him surrounded by armed men.
C9. The Psion Hunters are scared of no guards, and they immediately rush into battle. Terhan and Darrum have no choice but to help.
D9. Darrum shoots in the melee, trying to cover Terhan as the archivists made his way toward Ellistrie.
S/F9. Alezia reached him first, however, and she is slinking away through the chaos when Terhan arrives. The dwarf tries to follow, but gets caught up in another fight.
P1. Recently arrived in the bustling city of Tellona, Alezia received her orders. The words were said only in her mind, although she did hold a piece of paper. The Legacy was asking her to find another elf, which they hoped to recruit. It was a base mission, not for one of her talent, but she was stuck with it. She could not think of why she was chosen for this, and it puzzled her. At least it would be easy.
R1. Alezia was at a tavern's counter, questioning the bartender about recent sighting of elves. She knows Ellistrie had been begging for a job. A Psion Hunter gnome sat down at her side as she spoke, however, and calmly told her he was looking for that very elf. Alezia quickly wormed her way out of the conversation, before he sensed the truth of her. If the Hunters were after Ellistrie, then there was something special about him.
C1. She had been investigating the marketplace for hours when a commotion broke out. Alezia wasted no time slinking closer, and recognized her target as it was dragged away, half-conscious, into an alley. There would be no time to investigate the elf's past - not if she wanted him to have a future. Alezia went after the bunch of sellsword and stopped them with a simple spell and a lot of bluff.
D1. Knowing she would get no answer about the elf if she handed him to the Legacy straight away, Alezia decided to befriend Ellistrie. She had found the elf awake on her return and quite eager to do the same. He was, however, very careful about what he said around her, and always rather tense. She would need to stay close for longer to get something out of him.
S/F1. The campfire cracked loudly, making both dwarves jump. Ellistrie was smiling idly, relaxed. He was a fruit ripe for the taking, she knew -- and so did Terhan. Taking a nonchalant tone, the dwarf prompted Ellistrie to tell his story, and it was not special at all. New mysteries had appeared and she held no answer for them. She was reluctant to admit it, but she would have to turn to a new source.
P2. Alezia didn't want to turn Ellistrie over to the Legacy: with Terhan, he could get her into the Great Library and she had yet to discover why they wanted him.
R2. The Legacy sent orders to bring him to the headquarters.
D2. Alezia ignored the orders, put wards around their encampments at night and recommended they put up a guard.
S/F2. Hired blades attacked them one night, but they managed to escape them and remained hidden until they reached the dwarven library. Alezia noted along the way her power seemed to grow strangely stronger.
P3. Alezia didn't know how to find the Mind Hive or Ellie Samarran.
C3. She encountered Terhan again, and the archivist could get her inside the Great Library, where dwarven lore was kept.
D3. After helping Terhan recover his book and finish it, Alezia insured they all reached the library safely.
S/F3. They searched the bookshelves for a week and came up with a very detailed story of what had happened to the artifact and the god, but nothing on their location. All the dwarves had recorded was that the great prison in which the elven god had been built by the artifact's energy.
P4. Alezia needs a new source of information.
R4. She still doesn't know where to find the Mind Hive or psion deity.
C4. Once they were alone, she told Ellistrie she was an elf. One thing leading to another, he kisses her. Only, it has a strange effect on her: it sends her mind's power swirling, and out of her control.
D4. Since Ellistrie cannot explain himself, Alezia turns to the Legacy. She strikes a deal, letting them get to Ellistrie without a fight if they tell her the truth of what is going on.
S/F4. Alezia learns that Ellistrie is the great-grandson of the last true sun elf, a powerful psion. The Legacy hopes to awaken some sort of power in him. Ellistrie swears he cannot do psionic, however. In addition, they tell her that other sun elves have been born since her, from moon elven parents.
PX. Alezia has two mysteries to resolve: why she was born sun elf and why Ellistrie makes her psionics stronger.
DX1. She learns other sun elves were born, so it is not an unique event.
DX2. She learns Ellistrie has a lineage making him prone to psionic powers, even though he shows only a capacity to augment hers.
DX3. By talking to him, she learns the elf also has had memory losses whenever he (unknowingly) modified her powers to make them stronger.
DX4. She knows the energy used to imprison Ellie Samarran came from the deity's own artifact.
S/FX. Ellie Samarran has regained some control over his prison walls and his energy is leaking out. In small doses, it is enough to transform newborn elves. The energy needs somewhere to gather, and Ellistrie would make a very proficient recipient.
P5. Although it enhances her own powers, Ellie's essence is not under her control.
R5. She grows more powerful around it but can only augment powers she already knows. No new power come from Ellistrie's presence.
C5. That will never be enough to bring back psionics to the world.
D5. Searching through the Legacy's lore, she found portals leading to the elven pantheon's plane of existence. She tells the Legacy's leader she has tracked the Hive Mind to that location.
S/F5. Since they have been attacked recently, they agree to move around. They leave their hideout and head out to the old elven lands.
P6. The portal is closed.
R6. While the others fuss over Ellistrie, Alezia searched for her portal and found it. She could not open it, however.
C6. Ellistrie was never alone anymore, yet she knew she needed him to open the portal.
D6. She stopped going there to avoid being discovered and bid her time, watching the moon elf. When Psion Hunters descended on the encampment, she was ready.
S/F6. Alezia managed to get to Ellistrie first and drags him away and to the portal. The moment the elf touches the portal, it opens.
P1. Ellistrie stood into the baker's tiny office. The man was voicing interest in him, and although his heart pounded hard in his chest, the elf tried to keep his hopes from soaring. The baker told him that if he could get rid of the hooded cloth and bath, the matter was done, and he was hired. When Ellistrie pulled down his hood, however, his face and tone changed. The deal was off, and he'd better leave before he alerted the guards. Ellistrie stormed off, a bitter taste in his mouth: this had been his last chance here.
R1. Dark clouds had gathered above the city and rain started pouring down early in the evening. After using the water to clean himself, Ellistrie found a dry spot to sit under. He watched the lightning zap down as he reflected on his situation. Once more, the entire town had rejected him - or at least, the honest part of it. As with his last stops, nothing had worked. He needed to change tactics.
C1. The dwarf's coins were strange and foreign, and Ellistrie was loathe to spend them, but he was starving. He stopped at a market's stall to get a meal, but the merchant there called it fake, and him a thief. Ellistrie did not quite follow what happened next, but he knew his hood had been pulled down, and that he had been pushed and dragged around. He remembered an alley, hostile faces and little else.
D1.Although his pride did not like it, Ellistrie decided he would get nowhere alone. He'd woken in an inn, however, so someone had put him there. He would stick to that someone like he'd never stuck to anything before - and Ellistrie was well-known for his stubborness. Every tiny bit of trust earned was a step toward acceptance. He would arm himself with people, and people would lead to more people.
S/F1. The campfire cracked loudly, making both dwarves jump. Alezia was as cool as ever, and had not reacted. The four sat in a circle around it, sharing a meal, sharing stories, sharing his company. There had never been so many around him, and Ellistrie's food tasted better than ever before. He was sitting with companions and friends. Alezia had led to Terhan, who had led to Darrum. They stood around him now, and though the hunters growing increasingly agressive, Ellistrie felt safer.
P2. Ellistrie is in the Legacy's hands.
R2. He wakes up in a small, dismal bedroom. The door is locked and the windows barred.
C2. Two men drag him out of the room, into a dark chamber. They force him to sit on a strange altar, and a deep-voiced elf says something about being related to a powerful psion. Ellistrie does not remember the rest well, only that it was very painful.
D2. Unable to fight, Ellistrie waits miserably for the next visit to ask as many questions as he can.
S/F2. The goaler stares at him silently and answers none. He gives him food and water and leaves.
P3. The elf has memory problems.
R3. He always attributed it to spending days under the sun, begging, but he cannot remember fighting the gnome and the Legacy, or kissing Alezia.
C3. He's been captured by a hostile group, but can barely remember any contact he has with them. Not very good when you need to escape.
D3. He adds that to the list of questions to ask to the next person to visit.
S/F3. The goaler stares at him silently and answers none. He gives him food and water and leaves.
P4. Ellistrie's body is the gathering point of a powerful deity's energy.
R4. Alezia pays him a visit in his cell. Ellistrie cannot remember exactly what she did, except that he 'woke' up feeling weak and seeing her grin.
C4. Terhan broke in the room. Alezia refused to let him escape with Ellistrie and told him the deal was off. They argued, and Alezia provoked another memory loss from Ellistrie to prove her point.
D4. He must find a way to harness this power.
P5. Ellistrie must harness Ellie Samarran's power.
R5. As the Legacy drags him toward elven lands of old, his memory loss are becoming more frequent.
C5. Every night they tried some kind of ritual, and Ellistrie worked hard to keep conscious during them. The Legacy could feel his power, but they still believed it came only from his ancestors.
D5. Hoping to gain an ally, Ellistrie tells them he is none other than Ellie Samarran reborn, and that should they help him control his power and free the rest of his essence, they would be well-rewarded.
S/F5. It takes a demonstration to convince them, but when they are, the Legacy of the Mind is at his feet.
P6. Ellie Samarran tries to take over completely.
R6. Alezia has just been killed, and he weeps as a father over his first child.
C6. His wrath turns to the one-armed Psion Hunter who killed her.
D6.1 Ellistrie puts every bit of willpower and control he has into stopping himself from destroying the entire city.
S/F6.1 He falls to his knees, his head about to burst, but does not attack. Crystal trees and buildings shatter, but the shards only float midair at first. Then they slowly gather around Ellistrie and the Psion Hunter.
D6.2 The gnome mentions dwarven friends who had him swear not to attack.
S/F6.2 The thought of Terhan and Darrum being so close and coming all this way to save him gives strength to Ellistrie. He finally wrestles all control, yet keeps the divine power.
P7. Gnomes and psions are slaughtering each other.
R7. Ellistrie can feel every power used by a psion, and each of their death keenly.
C7. Now in control, he doesn't want anyone else dying on his account.
D7. He walks back to the battlefield, Alezia in his arms and the gnome at his side, unharmed. Shards of crystal still fly around him, and when a member of the Legacy tries to jump in and attack the Psion Hunter, the shards tear him to pieces.
S/F7. There is a new presence and strength to Ellistrie that gives everyone else chills and makes them stare in awe and fear. They stop fighting instantly.
1. Terhan on the shore, observing Darrum's movements, unable to write.
2. Alezia walking into Tellora and receiving her orders about Ellistrie.
3. Ellistrie is rejected by the baker.
4. Terhan sees Ellistrie at the baker and goes after him. The elf refuses his offer.
5. Alezia asks around town for Ellistrie, and first met the gnome hunter.
6. Terhan returns to the caravan and asks help from the other dwarves.
7. Market scene: Ellistrie is screwed over while trying to use Terhan's coins, and saved by Alezia. She first notices her powers are stronger.
8. Terhan talks with the baker.
9. Ellistrie wakes in the inn. He does not remember the fight much. Alezia comes in shortly after, and suggests they should travel together.
10. Darrum stops Terhan from going back to the caravan, where the gnome is looking for him. The Psion Hunter has already declared he would keep the book.
11. Come morning, Terhan and Darrum learn that Ellistrie left earlier with a woman. They buy basic travelling gear and a bow for Darrum and set off.
12. The dwarves catch up with the elves, and they realise two things: Terhan and Alezia know each other and they'll need Terhan's book. They set off towards the library at a slow pace.
13. The gnome hunter finds them. As they try to get the book without fighting, the Legacy's hired blades try to take Ellistrie by force. He doesn't remember later, but Ellistrie goes wild on the gnome, attacking even without weapons.
14. They get the book. Terhan is wounded but Alezia heals him partly, revealing her powers. Terhan demands to know why she wants to go in the Library now.
15. The group sits at a campfire, silent at first. Terhan eventually gets his newly recovered book out, with quill and ink. He asks Ellistrie for his story again, and this time the elf agrees.
16. They finally reach the Great Library, but a long search does not yield the information they needed. They learn about the Psionic War and that the Hive Mind's energy was used to create the psionic deity's prison. Ellistrie mocks what is said on the prison.
17. Terhan asks Alezia how they should get new information, and eventually gathers she means to betray Ellistrie. He has her promise she will free him once she has the knowledge she needs from the Legacy of the Mind.
18. Alezia reveals that she is a sun elf to Ellistrie. He kisses her, provoking a strange outburst of energy from Alezia. Ellistrie barely remembers it at all, however. Strong arms grab him and take him away.
19. Ellistrie wakes up in his cell. He searches the room thoroughly and tries to make some sense out of his situation.
20. Alezia meets up with the leader of the Legacy of the Mind. She learns that new sun elves have appeared across the surface and that Ellistrie is the great-grandson of a powerful psion.
21. Men cloaked in gold and black cloaks come to get Ellistrie. They bring him to the ritual room, say something about his ancestors and then try some weird chants. Ellistrie remembers little more than the pain.
22. Alezia is searching through the Legacy's lore. She finds out about the portal to the elven pantheon as she searches for information on Ellie Samarran. This is when she connects the dots.
23. A goaler come to feed Ellistrie and refuses to answer any questions.
24. Terhan and Darrum crouch outside the Legacy's meager hideout back door. There is still one guard, but they make plans according to what Alezia promised: that in two hours, the way would be clear.
25. The sun is setting when Alezia goes to Ellistrie. She tests his theory and tries to convince him to use his power to bring back psionics and forge an elven kingdom. Terhan arrives in the room.
26. Alezia refuses to let Ellistrie escape. Terhan argues but she blasts him off his feet using Ellistrie's strength (and causing a small blackout on his part). Then she hints that Darrum cannot stop the entire Legacy for long, and Terhan reluctantly leaves.
27. As they transfer Ellistrie from his room to a locked caravan wagon, he comes to term with the fact a god decided to make his body his nest. He decides to harness that power and put it to good use.
28. Terhan is walking out of Darrum's room, where the dwarf lay wounded, when he runs into the gnome psion hunter. He goes to him, and they eventually work out an agreement.
29. Ellistrie is working hard to keep conscious as the Legacy repeat their painful rituals on him. He is mildly successful, and learns that they had to go around gnome lands to find the ancient elven forests. He reveals to the Legacy that he is Ellie Samarran's vessel.
30. Terhan, Darrum and their gnome companion entire the gnome capital. They go before the council to request help.
31. The Legacy group finally arrives in the crystal city. Alezia finds her portal but cannot open it.
32. Ellistrie is surrounded by a honour guard. He is playing with the last coin Terhan gave him and trying to come to terms with all that has happened.
33. Terhan and Darrum have arrived with ten gnomes, including the one-armed hunter. At evenfall, the gnome charge in.
34. As the fight's chaos take part, Alezia moves to Ellistrie's side. She convinces him to follow, although he is reluctant and suspicious.
35. Terhan reaches Ellistrie's tent in time to see Alezia take off with him. He is about to follow when a psionic blast makes him lose consciousness.
36. Alezia puts Ellistrie's hand on the portal, and it opens. She drains Ellie's divine essence as it is freed out.
37. The one-armed gnome arrives upon the scene. Neither of the two elves sense him, and he kills Alezia.
38. Ellistrie fights with Ellie Samarran for control. The crystal trees and buildings are shattering. Everybody stopped fighting.
39. The gnome mentions friends and decides not to attack, and Ellistrie finally gains complete control. He stops the flying shards of crystal.
40. Ellistrie walks back into the mist of the battlefield with (dead) Alezia and the gnome. They stop the fighting.
Prologue: Terhan is finishing his book. Ellistrie has forged a peace pact with the gnomes and is gathering elves under his banner.