I: The Challenge

Elves are quiet, reserved creatures, who despise trouble.

I had pointy ears, big, deep blue eyes, but I was far from the "proper" elf—an offense worthy of my current waste of time and life kneeling in front of the greatest chauvinist slash pedophile in Atlaentia, the Elvin Head Councilor.

"Ermine!" he barked, a foot from my poor, sensitive ears.

"Virgil?" I peered at him through long, blue-black eyelashes. Just catching the sapphire light from my hair gave me tingles.

Who do you know that has natural blue hair?

He slapped me roughly across my face. "You dare speak up to me, woman?"

"I think it rather as speaking down…"

Apparently, intelligence is like wealth—it does not distribute well.

The pig raised a chubby finger warningly. "Gallivanting off to the mountains into troll territory! Waving swords and such not befitting of a lady! Endangering the finest young men your pathetic generation has barely scraped together—"

Finest? More like treacherous, insufferable.

In truth, it was never something I had done; it was something he had done. That bastard Grant.

Yet, here I was enduring all the goddamn punishment.

He went on, but I settled into autopilot, my eyes trained on a hairy spot in the center of his unibrow.

I should be fair. I've self-righteously snatched up the narrative, which does not allow for an objective picture.

I mean, at this point, Grant's as unknown as I am to you. While I ramble off my endless list of curses, you'll be sitting their, all pretty-like, wondering, "Grant, who?"

And that will certainly not do.

The mere facts are simple.

The Sylvan trolls are perhaps the fiercest and the dumbest (not a great combination if you ask me) on all of Atlaentia, better known as the airborne continent of the great Elvin civilizations.

The trolls aren't exactly lacking of morals, more like lacking the knowledge of the existence of morals. As a student of behavioral studies and whatnot, I went on an expedition to—erm—what do you call—observe their culture, if that.

That's a lie.

The adventure was my attempt to appease my ego—or my rival's slash bane of my existence's depending on the outcome.

For the outing was challenge between my band of river elves and our rivals, these guys, fire elves from upstate Atlantis. Seeing that most—actually, all—of them were guys except me, the testosterone naturally got the best of them, and even my usually level-headed best-friends accepted the dare.

But hey, it wasn't as if I'd stop them, especially when I wanted to play the game myself.

Not that I would have backed down or let my logical half of my conscience hamper me. When it came to us and them, there was no hesitation to beat each other at our games.

Not to mention I was the leader of my band (I would say gang, if not for the fact that we all met, friends and foes, at a privileged high-school in Atlantis City), and the insignificant, side detail that their leader was my mortal enemy since birth: Leander Fogo Grant.

I laugh.

Say it out loud, and you might too.

Unfortunately there's only a handful of people who knew the middle name, but a mutual promise kept my massive trap shut.

Rivalyn Raed Ermine.

He knew it. I knew it. What sort of names were those? Raed and Fogo.

But, I digress.

With permanently disheveled, auburn hair, piercing gold eyes, and overall devilishly good looks, he stood six foot three with an ego the size of Jupiter. And you wonder, ooooh, the girl's noticed the looks despite the hatred, they get together.

But you wonder wrong.

My hatred does not blind me.

Besides, the ultimate sin of a good strategist is underestimating your enemy, no?

Use the dashing, good looks, for example. Without comprehending this piece of information, how am I to predict the hordes of clingy women that add a certain unpredictability factor to my planning?

As for the challenge, it went something like this, objectively speaking, of course.

So from opposite sides of the mountains where the trolls dwell, the two teams raced and low and behold, like a clichéd suspense movie, we made it their at the same time.

We inched closer to the trolls, et cetera, et cetera. And then, the audacity! The stupid prick, Grant, assumed it would be acutely entertaining to figure which of us could steal a jewel from the trolls first, thereby naming the victor. By the way, the trolls are the continent's miners.

My men chickened out and as it were, so did his. Thus, the final, victory deciding round fittingly fell upon the two leaders. Moi and It.

Naturally, I should have guessed that the task was impossible. Nevertheless, when it came to Grant, possibility was the sole option. There was no room for hopeless realism and logicality, what with all the thoughts of triumph and the opposition's impending humiliation.

But he knew, that bastard. And as I moved to retrieve the jewel, with the stealth and agility of a winding stream, I was found.

And not only by the trolls, but by police lookouts from the summit.

I shiver in rage at the truly despicableness of my enemy. Not only did he fail to adhere to the rules of fair play, he made me look like a thief, tarnished my pristine record and brought me here to this miserable place.

All at a cost of nothing to himself.

Granted, the man possessed two things I did not: a quick, believable cover up (where he blamed me of losing the reigns on my curiosity and of all the disgusting things to say, explained how he saved me from certain death) (awesomely imaginative, I dare say) and the advantage of being a male in Atlaentia.

For my world is a deeply patriarchy one, full of sexist bastards who feel a women's role is at home and in bed.

What angered me most, however, was that I shouldn't have expected him to observe the rules, and that, above all, it was my fault for trusting him.

So here I was, facing the foul breathed Councilor.

Now thoroughly aggravated, Virgil Cavillor, unmistakably in need of retirement, plopped into his twine chair.

He sighed deeply and mumbled, "I don't know. I'm sick, I'm tired, and I'm definitely in need of a good, long, relaxing vacation." He turned to me and drawled, "Don't you agree?"


"Hmm...and a nice companion?"

A new, leering glitter entered his eyes.

I will say this once, and only once. EEEEEWWWWW!!

Suddenly, he smiled cruelly and forcefully grasped my chin, pushing my face up to face his. I could see the lust in his eyes, and it took all my strength to keep from turning my face away from his stench.

"Careful, my dear," he murmured, "It will do your…honor…well to remember your place in a man's society." He let go and waved a hand as a signal of my dismissal.

"Now, go—go warm a hay stack or something. Whatever you female sprites do."

Scarcely able to feel my cramped up legs, I got up as quickly as I could and fled from the Councilor's office.

Sick with fury, I stopped by the riverside a few miles from home. The foaming torrent rippled with chucked rocks. I imagined each one with Grant's face, and it effectively cooled me off. Strolling along the river the rest of the way home, I reflected on the day's events and eventually, on the world.

At first, the only picture I saw was Cavillor's taunting face. He was a Jeckall and Hide character, that was for sure, a two-faced bastard. He purposefully ignored Grant's presence at the fiasco, and I knew he knew the truth about my enemy's involvement in the events.

It came down to boy and girl, man and woman. The female was always the manipulative, unscrupulous one, a reputation spurred on by religious scriptures, classical epics and the culture of ancient, patriarchal based societies.

Still, was this not, for goodness sake, the twenty-first century? While the blundering humans on land buried old views of feminine status, the "sophisticated" Elvin society leeched on them like a drug.

It is pitiful to know that although the cities such as Atlantis abandon the old-fashioned beliefs, the ancient, and most powerful, elders and council members hold them dear to their evil little hearts. In their schemes, they even dared to corrupt the rest of the naïve populous, conveniently ignoring laws unlawful and unjust (believe it or not, it's more possible than lawful laws).

Elves were once known, even by humans, to be a fair and beautiful race of species. The Elvin parliament would bring an end to that.

Perhaps I'm not giving those unscrupulous buffoons a fair chance. Allow me to explain the history of our pretty-perfect society. Mind, our history has been "guilded" for centuries with fame that covers shameful, disgusting details. In other words, we are as foul as humans, only better cover-ups.

From the great cross-species war between humans and elves, in which neither were guilty of purity—humans jealous of Elvin magic and Elves with chips over their shoulders—our story begins. Unable to keep a withstanding treaty, elves including allied forces of goblins, trolls, gremlins, etc., and humans with their allies of witches, wizards, druids, etc., separated.

Conveniently, off the coast of Greece, the island, Thera, blew its top, hurling a sizable landmass into the air, similar to how the moon was born out of earth. Of course, what goes up must come down.

At the time, however, Atlantians, as Plato described, were quite advanced, knowing the secrets of physics. Predicting the eruption a great time before, they constructed an airbase the size of Europe. Next, they blasted the base with cargo rockets into the atmosphere, keeping it up by converting cloud moisture into a hydrogen-based fuel to energize the engines.

The eruption of Thera was awesome, fifty times Krakatoa. It was actually so big, it caused tidal waves all over the earth that led to tremendous floods; floods that were recorded in all ancient scripts such as the great flood in Noah's Arc.

Traveling at god knows what speed, the landmass shot up to the Mesosphere. Meanwhile, the Atlantis Airbase paralleled the micro-continent, gradually sliding under and locking the land into position. With intermittent bursts of power, our rocket scientists steadied the base.

Now, craftily, our Atlaentia doesn't stay still. It crisscrosses the earth on the various winds on preset directions. Depending on how fast the great Arvia Dynasty (or the Parliament and Erlin the Elder if you mean now) desired, Atlantis would either sail in or on top of the winds. Since the Continent was not large enough to house the entire race, some, who were uneasy of the floating mass, volunteered to stay back.

As centuries past however, political relations grew lethal yet again. It became necessary for elves to conceal their civilization. Down on earth, thousands were burned or beheaded for heresy and witchcraft. In the name of God, the churches, temples and other religious centers, along with the kingdoms' government, planned a crude genocide of elves.

In a state of panic, the Council put their devious heads together and formed solutions. We slowed the Continent's revolution around the earth and kept to one hemisphere one millennia and the other the next. At a more stationary state, we formed a shield by gathering storm clouds around us. Why do you think it always rains in Ireland?

As humans grew more intelligent, satellites took orbit. So, instead of using natural clouds, we synthesized them out of reflecting compounds that bounced of lasers and x-rays. We knew, of course, that the humans would notice something amiss, when they found that a certain, massive cloud was impenetrable.

Our scientists then set trillions of cameras that continuously filmed the earth below. Piecing each camera's view, an exact replica was made, then separated and displayed on each cloud particle.

Atlantis was and is still invisible.

Well, now that the science of Atlantis's build has been fully established—there is of course many more details, but that would take eons to explain; besides, I don't understand half the physics that's involved myself—we can proceed to the government, which I so complain about.

We modeled our government after the humans—or rather, they modeled theirs after ours—morphing from an imperial dynasty to various kinds of government.

Let me add that Atlantis, the name of the continent, is divided into several countries, although we do not quarrel among ourselves like the humans. As a result, some countries still have a monarchy, partly functional and partly figurehead.

On the way back to my tree house, I thought about another more exciting piece of news. I am a full-fledged adult: twenty years, baby.

And a hell of a lot of life yet to live.

Elves are unique (from humans) in that our magical cores, which we share with Mother Nature, protect us from most illnesses and otherwise mortal wounds. In a sense, we have hyper active healing.

The result is an expanded life expectancy of two hundred or so, although no one really knows. Take the Elders, who have been there forever. It's quite disheartening to know that they won't just die out of their positions.

Regardless, I was savoring the knowledge that I was an adult elf, meaning I would soon be fully equipped with the power to vote, keep a tree to myself, have a job—which is intimately twined with the sole life purpose. That is, let's say, "to balance out the gender count in the Elvin military forces." Or at least bring it up to one female to a lot of male officers.

I will be honest in admitting that some of my passion to show the strength of women comes from my hatred of Leander Fogo Grant. Supposedly, he's not an advocate of sexism. Quite the opposite actually, since he's known for his supposed gentlemanly behavior. But I know he goes through girls like tissue paper.

Huh, wonder where all that gentlemanly behavior went when it came to me.

And because of his lack of manners toward me, I knew everything was a façade (which spurned on half of my irritation) and that deep down, he was like any other of his male fellows, holding no respect for women.

What saddened me worse was that most Elvin women accepted it—even felt it was right and true. My mother included.

In the end, my hopes and dreams of becoming a police officer were tragically polarized to my mother's and most of the Elvin public's views on the duty of a proper female elf.

I knew my position clearly and understood the reality of my hopes for my future when I relayed my plans to my former best friend. In fact "former" did not do the elf justice; she was my enemy and a backstabber.

From the moment she heard, she had no trouble striking me with a critical opinion and a barrage of nasty insults. I couldn't help but weep in bed, something I hadn't done for literally half a century.

Later, I found out that she had become Grant's new play toy and had been brainwashed against me. Always lacked in the brain department, she did.

I reached my family's tree house by the Irmine River; hence our elf kind being River Elves. Father wasn't home yet, probably dealing with a night case, as he was a physician in the Oracle Hospital, the largest hospital in Atlantis City.

Still, Mother was home, cooking what smelled like my favorite pie. When she saw me enter, she dropped the leaf bowl, very unlike the non-biodegradable bowls used by humans, the contents spilling over the scrubbed wooden—well obviously—floor.

Ignoring the mess, she scuttled over to me and embraced me in a body-pulping hug.

"Where were—what were you thinking?" she sobbed.

I sighed into her shoulder. So she didn't agree with my opinions.

No matter what I did in life and what they thought of it, I would always love Mom and Dad. Yet, this truth was not enough to build my courage to tell them. I felt guilty somehow, but with the incident with my ex best-friend, I was glad I had not let it slip.

I chose not to say anything. Today, I felt like keeping my thoughts to myself, which was very unlike me. Mom practically lifted me and placed me on a stool before a table laden with a scrumptious meal. I only realized how ravished I was once I downed a bowl of soup.

I finished the rest of my dinner, scarcely chewing the food. My stomach was so anxious for something to digest that if I didn't give it something to chew, the acids would burn a whole through my own muscle and skin.

As a good mother would, she sent me to my room, threatening that if I didn't get to sleep within five minutes, she would hang me on the family branch.

Under the warm, hollow-weed filled comforter, I began my routine of formulating a plan for revenge and joining the Pixie Police, as it was called. Not that these far-fetched plans were ever put in action, but it was fun hatching them.

I thought of cross-dressing, or perhaps "walking in on" an unfolding crime scene, saving the endangered bystanders and policemen from certain death.

Alas, these were all possible in an ideal world. The thought of the unpredictability factor posed by reality was overwhelming, and I did not dare to carry out my fantasies.

I was far from quitting, though. In fact, my very job, aside from attending college, or rather hobby was spending time with Eider, a stereotype policeman with a big heart who loved sweets. Discreetly, he taught me the basics of hand to hand combat, weapons, and told me stories of his experiences in the Job.

Like a sponge, I absorbed all of this, while little-by-little I let myself known to the department, at least to Eider's circle of friends.

My true plan was to gather allies, men who would support my cause and petition for my badge.

As I thought about all of this, my dreams and my goals, I felt sleep spread over me like warm butter over morning toast, and I happily gave in to its irresistible, rich flavor.

So numero uno revision of this chapter. I honestly believe that if a good story's downfall is a bad beginning. Anyway, it still needs a lot of important, but I think it's a little more mature. Um if you skipped some background info i won't hold it against you, i actually cut out some of it, but i just couldn't bring myself to take out the creation of Atlaentia. I know the similes are cheesy, but Lyn's cheesy, he he he…anyway hope you liked it, this chapter and the next one are kinda dull since lee's not there yet, but once he is, it gets hot.