"Aunty Nalani! Aunty Nalani!" a voice squealed in delight. Nalani turned sharply towards the source of the voice, accidentally nicking herself on the dagger.
"Gamlyn" she whispered breathless.
Gamlyn was the inquisitive and ever cheerful six-year old son of Fraya and her husband. The boy could always brighten up a dull and dreary atmosphere. Along with his intelligent green eyes and thick carrot-coloured hair, it was one of Gamlyn's best qualities, although not the most extraordinary.
The universe works inn mysterious ways, the Elders were always preaching that, and Gamlyn was a fine example. Both of his parents were full-blood humans, yet strangely enough, Gamlyn was born with the ability to see into the future and even at his tender age, an insatiable love and appetite for all things magical. His clairvoyant nature alone made him a favourite of the Elders, and a possible candidate for the future. Although he'd confessed to Nalani that he'd always seen him as something bigger than an Elder, something more powerful.
At that point in time, Gamlyn was running towards Nalani, ignoring Tuari her sparring partner as well as his dozen look-alikes. Gamlyn stumbled in the snow a couple of times before launching himself at Nalani and hugging her tightly around the waist, his freckled face beaming.
Nalani smiled down on the boy, then at Tuari who returned the gesture. She became distracted as his magically produced duplicated began to shimmer and slowly fade into nothingness. Soon they had all disappeared without a trace. Not even a mark or print in the snow.
"The power of magic," she whispered in awe. Even though she'd seen it before, Tuari's displays of magic always seemed to amaze her. No wonder she'd been frightened of the elf when she was younger.
"What are you doing here, Gamlyn? Shouldn't you be inside?" Nalani asked as the boy took several steps away from her. Immediately Gamlyn's face became serious, something people thought was impossible for the boy.
"The Council of Elders wants to see you. They sent me to get you. Sorry I interrupted you're training. I know you told me not to but…" Gamlyn said forcefully. He left his words unfinished but both Nalani and Tuari understood what they were. No body ignored an order from the Council of Elders.
"It's okay Gamlyn. You're not in trouble. As a matter of fact, our training had just finished" Nalani replied ruffling Gamlyn's hair with her hand. He turned back into his normal, cheerful self.
"Hey, Tuari, could you show me some of your magic? Please," Gamlyn begged the elf. He looked down on the boy, a smile hinting at his lips.
"Oh Gamlyn, I don't know," he answered playfully. If Gamlyn's pleading gaze couldn't convince the elf then Nalani's sure could.
"All right," the master of magic mumbled after he looked at the young woman. It was well-known and noticed in the village that Tuari had a soft spot for Nalani, but she seemed to be blind when it came to his advances.
"Nalani, will you be coming to the caves tonight?" Tuari asked quietly when Gamlyn ran off to retrieve Nalani's forgotten staff.
"Of course. I have a gut feeling that this season's hunting will need all the help it can get" Nalani replied placing a hand on Tuari right shoulder in a parting gesture.
"One should never ignore a gut feeling, especially yours. I think the entire tribe learned that seven years ago," Tuari said as he returned the gesture. Nalani smiled grimly as she walked away remembering the attack on her village only days after the battle she and Fraya had witnessed. She had warned the Elders but they ignored her. Many lives had been lost that night.
Nalani looked at her surroundings as she walked back towards the village. Trees bended under their heavy white burden even though it was well into the first months of spring. The lingering winter meant that the wild herds that migrated to these parts during the spring would be delayed. This action would put even more strain on the even dwindling food supplies that the tribe had survived on over the past winter.
Snow laden tress gave way to canvas tents and huts made of stone with bundles of dried reeds for the roof. These dwellings surrounded the living tents of Nalani's tribe. The outer buildings served as farms and guard posts, providing the inner parts with protection and a food source for the summer.
Nalani paused in her travels to watch the farmers working their fields. The snow was almost non-existent here. Unfortunately, the winter had been rough and what crops had survived had been ravaged by wild animals. The meagre amount of food the tribe had and the approaching drought seasons meant that they might have more trouble than just Elves and Men this summer.
The Half-Blood woman continued on her way. She greeted friends as she went while at the same time, pondering why the Elders had summoned her. Could it be to discuss the future hardships the tribe would face in the coming months or maybe their sentries had spotted something? Nalani had no idea what they had summoned her for, therefore she had to prepare herself for anything, and a gut feeling told her it would not be one of their usual requests.