One

I write this at the behest of my Queen. My name is Karistha Tu'lla Stardust, kin from the clan of Treiy'lii, otherwise known as the Starlight Elves. It is said in our history, that a forest elf lay dying in a field one night. His life had been destroyed along with his entire village by a horde of creatures that sought their flesh for food. He had managed to escape, but not before he was gravely wounded. As he gazed up into the heavens, his tears of pain blurred his vision against the pins of light that dotted the scenery. A single star took pity upon this elf and stepped down from her great place of watching. She bestowed upon him a single kiss that restored him to life.
However, she lost her place in eternity for this gift, never to return. The two took on his elven form, with her brilliant silver to color them. Thus my race was born.
It is also said that on the day their first child was born the constellation she had resided in danced with joy. When they stopped their merriment, they had rearranged themselves into the likeness of the two lovers.
Many Treiy'lii have spent their nights watching that group of stars, sending up their hopes and prayers.
I have learned that the stars rarely send back.
My childhood was, in the most part, blame of my mother. She disappeared into the forest surrounding our village one day only to return some months later, pregnant. Refusing to name the father of her child, she gave birth to a healthy girl only to leave once again after she had recovered.
I was left in the care of the local temple, raised by everyone that could spare a moment. I do not remember much from those early days with the exception of the loneliness. It is difficult to watch young mothers and fathers show adoration to your friends only to return home to an empty room and silence each evening. Of course, this by no means meant I was sad. On the contrast, I was a very joyful child. I was forever curious and always laughing.
I recall one time when I was playing in the woods. I happened across this odd looking plant. It had the most wonderful sweet scent. The petals were a dark blue and the star-shaped leaves were dusky red. I plucked one to bring home and put in a jar by the window, when the plant puffed up this horrid red cloud of pollen at me. It coated me thickly and stank like nothing I had ever smelled before. I ran home in tears and was subjected to the harshest scrub of my life.
Of course, it did not come off and I wandered around the village for five days looking like the sun had burned me, smelling like something dead.

The days of my early youth blurred together into my early adolescence. It consisted of school, play, and the follies of wonderment that accompanied both. At the sake of sounding melodramatic, it was a tall stranger that changed my life forever. He walked in one evening, causing a stir. When my friends and I heard, we all ran to the town square to see for ourselves.
When we got there, a crowd of people had already gathered around the man and we could not see. Being the smallest and the youngest, I managed to squeeze through to the inside of the circle.
As the man cam into view, I gasped with surprise and shock. He was silver, not like our people who were the whites, blues, and yellows of the stars. He looked to have been crafted by the metal itself. His eyes and hair were the darkest, while his skin had a shade closer to that of platinum, coated in a metallic sheen.
The crowd murmured all around me, yet I do not remember a thing that was said. I was that transfixed upon this man. The gathering hushed suddenly as he raised his hands for silence, his voice lifting to be heard by all.
"I am looking for a child to be taken by the Council for training. All are to be presented to me upon the marrow, one by one, until I find a match for what we seek. If none will do, I shall continue on to the next village. If a child is found, the family will be compensated for their loss when the child leaves for training and they will be allowed to visit every two months for a fortnight at a time."
At this, the crowd started a loud roar as everyone tried to speak at the same time. The stranger held up his hands once again for silence then spoke.
"I shall take my leave now and see all of you in the morning."
He then turned and walked out of the town, leaving everyone to scatter. Those who had missed the meeting were quickly told and the entire village was buzzing with the news.
All of the children were sent swiftly home and straight to bed as parents packed what they would require if chosen. I was overlooked in all of this. What adult would worry about an orphan when great future lies ahead for their own blood?
I made my way back to my little room and waited for Liela. She was the acolyte left with the responsibility of taking care of me. I had always wanted to grow up just like her. Liela was one of those women who were always kind, no matter how harshly one spoke to her. She was quick to smile and never too busy for a hug or to bandage a skinned knee.
There were many times I had wished she was my mother. In looking back, I realize that she was. The title is not so important as the occupation.
"Who is he?" As Liela pulled my nightgown over my head, I asked this question.
"Why is he here? What does he want with us?" Liela laughed at the speed in which I asked my questions and shook her head.
"Ever curious, are we? He is a member of the Dragon Council. They search for children that they can train to raise hatchlings."
"Real Dragons!" My eyes must have been the size of saucers as I stared at her.
"Yes. He is a guardian of the Silvers. A child whom has what is required will be taught in magery and fighting. When they are old enough, they are given an egg to guard from hunters and slayers."
"Why do the dragons not take care of the babies themselves?" I looked at her, puzzled as my child's mind tried to comprehend this.
"Sometimes they are killed and the eggs are left without a parent. These eggs, if recovered, are then given to a guardian?"
"Without a parent. Like me?"
Liela laughed at me once again. "Yes, like you."
I mulled this over a moment as she tucked me up into bed. "I would very much like to see a real dragon. Do you think I will?"
Liela bent over to extinguish me candle then traced a light kiss on my forehead. "I do think you shall, someday. You can do anything if you set your heart to it. Now sleep."
She left the room and shut the door. I rolled over; thoughts of dragons keeping me awake until I could stay awake no more.
That night I dreamt only of the stranger.
The next day, all of the children were brought to the square. Once again the stranger was there, and all I could do was stare at him, transfixed.
We were lined up one by one as he had told us the night before. When the first of us walked up, the stranger touched him on the top of his head. With a slight negative motion, the boy was ushered away and the next child stepped up.
This proceeded for a half hour or so; an eternity it seemed. With every step closer to my turn, the butterflies in my stomach fluttered harsher.
Just then, a father stepped up as his daughter was dismissed. He started fighting with the man, yelling about how he had made a mistake. Chaos erupted then, parents pushing their children foreword to be tried, others slipping away those that had already been denied.
This time, being the smallest was not to my advantage. In the disorder, I was pushed out of the line and lead off with the others that had failed.
As I walked away, I felt disappointment flow over me, tears pricking at my eyes.
I would never get to see a real dragon.
When order was eventually restored, the father and his daughter led away from the crowd, I turned my back on the whole gathering and ran home. I could not bear to watch and see if one of the others would be picked.
I was told later that night that everyone had been sent home. Not a single child was chosen from our village, and the stranger was gone.