Eliza: By Laurie Ferrato
A gust of flowery wind almost blew my cap off and stung dirt into my eyes. I quickly turn my attention outside, to see, a single golden bird sitting on the cold, lifeless, stone, windowsill. Her caramel eyes haunt into mine, deep, with almost a dare, or a command, to follow her. Her tan beak with a single, thin red line that ran down the bird's beak, unto her eyes was high in the hair, warning me not to take advantage of her small size. Her musical voice sang to me, the notes travel deep into my ear canals, capturing me into her mercy. She spread her wings against the sun, expanding her tiny beauty, daring me to follow her. I stand up from my chair, wordlessly, and nothing but in hoarse whisper I say, "Master, I think I need to go outside." My master says nothing, but nods his grave head.
As if in a trance, I follow the yellow bird down the twisting stairwells, out in the courtyard, and into the woods. The spirited, free, golden bird lead me past the crying creek, under the tall trees' gaze, up and down fairy hills. I run into the tall, grassy meadow, my black, loose tunic flapping behind me as the wind tried to push me back, my eyes strain on the bird; I dared not to lose sight. I finally saw the bird land on a whooping willow tree, stranded in this strange, green meadow.
I see a tall tree, with great sorrows marked on its skin. The yellow bird sang to me in her sweet, lovely voice, her eyes never leaving mine. I circle the tree, touching her scorn bark. "Oh tree, what happen to ye?" I ask with remorse. Her willow branches hang down low, her leaves droop with sorrow. Her bark did not shine, nor did it grow, but broken and shattered.
"Alas, poet, I have a sorrow to tell ye." She answers. Her voice is raspy, cold and hard. "A tale of my people. I will tell it ye' and ye' will write down what I have to tell ye'."
I nod my head yes, not at all spook by a talking tree. I sit down, under the tree's protective shadow. I hear her sigh, and she began to tell her sorrowful tale.
"The elves were a small, but proud people, that lived in the woods many, many years ago. Men and elves lived together in harmony, that is, until the shadow men came. They came with such fright, with their dark eyes and their black books. They killed both, man and elf, under the name of their king. They said their way, was the only way and all others were wrong. Soon, man fell under the shadow men and followed their ways. However, the elves would not change their ways." The willow tree shook at the memory and her leaves fell down on the tall grass. "Soon all the elves were killed, except one, Eliza. A poor, elf farm girl, was the last survival. And this, ye' young poet, is the story, that I will tell ye'."
Eliza ran past the roaring creek while her mother, the moon, as her only light. The tree shielded Eliza with their branches, a weak attempt to hide her from the men who pursued her. Eliza felt her heart pound at the bottom of her throat, fear stirred in her stomach, her lavender eyes strained in the dark woods to find safety. Eliza heard nothing joyful in the woods as she ran. She no longer heard the birds' songs, the tree's gossip, or the creek's complaints. Her slender, pale, ears only heard her raspy breath, and the hooves of the men who trailed after her. Eliza jumped over a fallen tree, her long, white hair, glowed with her milk white complexion, an easy target in the dark.
"After her men! Don't loose sight!" Commanded the Shadow Man in his malevolence voice that sent shivers down Eliza's body.
Eliza ran faster, her body numb from the adrenaline. Her white silk dress was torn on the edges, dulled with dried mud from sleeping in the ditches. Memories clicked in her mind each step she took. The cold mist wrapped around Eliza's small frame, the moon hung low and hid her face away from the sight. She didn't want to see what was about to happen. Eliza felt the west moist snorted air from the horse that was close to her. She could feel the rush of the action and body heat from the man. Eliza made a quick turn around a tree, right as the man swung his iron sword.
"Run child, run." The trees whispered in Eliza's ear. Eliza shuddered as she felt the trees gave their energy to her.
Her eyes widen at the sight before her. The ravine ahead was wide and deep. Eliza knew she couldn't run down in it and survive with the men after her. Maybe she could jump across it. Eliza picked up her speed and the wind pushed her faster.
"She's going to jump it!" Shouted one of the men.
Eliza smirked and nodded her head. She ran faster than ever before in her life, and then she closed her eyes as she made the jump. Eliza heard wings flapped around her.
"Fly!" Encouraged the hawks.
The hawks turned their direction and dove for the man that stood gaped at Eliza. Eliza touched the other side of the ravine and tumbled down. She heard the man scream at the top of his lungs. Eliza looked over at the other side, and saw the hawks had a grand feast before them.
Suddenly the heavens cackled and a streak of lighting crossed Eliza's path. She crumbled back behind a tree at the sight she saw. It was the Shadow Man on his black horse. His black robe clung to the darkness, a tall, squared hat sneered at Eliza with a threat, his precious book was tightly held against his chest, and his wooden symbol hung from his neck swayed in the wind, an evil symbol to Eliza. Eliza held her breath as she felt the Shadow Man's dark, cold and hungry eyes searched the ground. His dark horse snorted, his breath blended in with the mist and the rain. Eliza shuddered from the rain, her body drenched.
"Come out demon!" shouted the Shadow Man. "I know your somewhere in here! Christopher come here!"
Eliza peeked from behind the tree and saw a man covered with armor, a sword hanged from his belt, his cropped brown hair and eyes that looked down on the ground, walked out of the army behind Shadow Man.
Eliza held her breath for the second time that minute. It was him. At once Eliza felt a tang of betrayal and anger; then again she had gotten use to those emotions. Eliza bit her pale lips. She wanted to run out from this tree and run into the man's arms. Perhaps he would save her from her misery, from perusal, from this dark world. She took a step forward, but the tree held her back. "Stay," it coaxed. Eliza nodded her dainty head. Of course, her behavior was irrational. She clung to the tree for support; her legs were too tired to stand on their own from running so long. Eliza closed her eyes to rest, as she heard the Shadow Man gave orders to his men.
"Use your iron arrows. Her blood cannot defend itself from the iron."
Eliza knew there and then, that she should have run again, but her body was too weak, and her wounds still bled from lack of help and rest. She quickly grabbed a fallen leaf, and wiped the blood off her legs. Eliza froze at the sound of crunched leaves and twigs, hooves stomped the ground. She scooted closer to the tree, a false hope that maybe she would blend with the tree. Eliza closed her eyes and held her breath. The hooves stopped. She heard the rider sung himself off his horse; his breath was heavy and sorrowful. His footsteps lead to the tree that Eliza hid behind, and stopped. Eliza squeezed her eyes shut, a prayer in her mind she was invisible. She tried to blend herself with the background, but she knew it was no use. Her body was too weak for magick. Eliza knew her only chance was to out run him again. She jumped on her ached feet, knocked the surprised man on the forest floor, and ran as fast as she could. Eliza didn't hear the man pull his bow back, and she didn't hear the whizzed of the iron-tipped arrow that was aimed for her.
Eliza let out a scream that echoed through the forest. Birds flew out of their nests, and into the night air. Eliza fell on the ground, and grabbed her back. The iron dug itself greedily into her back. The poison clawed into Eliza's bloodstream, the iron claimed a part of Eliza. Blue blood ran freely from her back, and turned silver with the moonlight. Eliza tried to breathe, but the poison began to block her airway, a natural task that began to be a quest. She squirmed on the ground to get away from the man who bent down next to Eliza. His red, frizzy hair waved wildly with the wind and the rain, he smacked his lips as if a treat lied before him. Eliza snarled at him as she lied on the floor.
The man laughed, and shouted. "I've got her!"
Eliza turned her head and heard the cheers of his fellow pursuers. Eliza looked up at the man. She still wasn't going to give up. Eliza grabbed the man's dagger from his belt and stabbed him in the chest. His own red blood was painted on her face, but Eliza only twisted the dagger deeper and deeper, to make sure he was dead. She didn't twitch when he choked, when his white eyes widen at the shock, or the smell of his rusty blood. Her aim was to survive, and he was in her way.
Eliza winced again from the poison, and tried to pull the arrow out from her back, but only caused herself more pain. With a gasp, Eliza clung to a tree as she slowly stood up.
"Eliza?" a soft voice whispered.
Eliza twitched at the sound of her name. She looked over and saw Christopher, half in the shadows, and half in the moonlight. He slowly walked to Eliza with careful steps, his arms stretched out, and treated Eliza like a wild, fearful animal.
"Are you well?" he asked again.
Eliza almost laughed. "Do I look well?" her musical voice spluttered. Blood ran down her mouth, her breath was raspy and short. She studied Christopher. His blue eyes looked nervous, his tall frame stiffened at her sharp remark.
"No. No you do not."
"Well then, I think we've found something to agree on."
Christopher's eyes lowered to ground, and then stared at the dead man on the floor.
"I'm sorry." He whispered.
Eliza felt her heart skip a beat, and her voice soften.
"Why Christopher, why?"
Christopher was about to reply, buy Eliza interrupted him by a wince. The pain flared in her body, and she crumpled again on the forest floor. Christopher ran over to Eliza and held her up. "Let me help you."
"No." Eliza pushed Christopher away. "It doesn't matter. The iron has already poisoned my blood."
"We need to get the arrow out of you, or you'll bleed to death."
"I still won't survive! The iron has touched my blood."
"Then we'll find a cure."
Eliza grabbed Christopher by the chin, and looked deep into his confused eyes.
"There is no cure for when iron touches fey blood. None." She stated.
Christopher shamefully looked at the ground again; he knew she was right. He hid is face in Eliza's hair. She still smelled like the summer days, bliss of flowers and sunshine. "I'm sorry Eliza. I am so sorry." He murmured in her hair.
Eliza's eyes swelled up with tears and she curled up in Christopher's arm. She forgot she was hunted, she forgot the genocide of her people, the fear that rested in her stomach, and the pain that grew in her body. Eliza just focused on the emotion of safety that she felt for the moment, the peace, and rest she needed. She focused on Christopher's smell, the smell of wood and hay. The couple was so caught up with each other, they did not hear, nor see, the Shadow Man walk over.
"Well done Christopher. Our King will be pleased with you."
Christopher and Eliza looked up to find the Shadow Man. His features blended with the darkness that nested in the forest, except his pointy chin, where his hat did not cast a shadow. He handed a long sword to Christopher.
Christopher looked at the sword, then at Eliza, her eyes wide. He could the fear crawl in her eyes, in between the lines of pain from the poison.
"Do it Christopher, or else I will." The Shadow Man commanded.
Eliza looked at Christopher "Please," she begged, "Please."
"Don't listen to her Christopher. The book is proof that she is evil. She will kill innocent people."
Christopher held Eliza tighter. "What if your book is wrong?" he asked.
The man laughed and opened his book. "This book is never wrong. It is the way of life and truth." He pointed to Eliza. "She and her people are the way of death and destruction. She is the one feeding lies to you boy."
The Shadow Man took a step closer. "Where does your loyalty lie, Christopher?" he sneered. "To your people and your country, or," he waved his hand in the wind. "Or, to some demonic harlot?"
"I am no harlot!" Eliza spitted. "Nor are my people the ways of death. You lie."
Christopher looked at the sword, and then looked at Eliza again. Eliza noticed the change in his eyes. "No!" she screamed.
With the last of her strength, Eliza ran. She knocked the Shadow Man down, the pain drilled through Eliza's body, but she didn't care. She wasn't going to let her people down. Eliza ran between the trees, she could hear Christopher's footsteps after. She closed her eyes, and let her spirit carried her through the woods. Eliza felt the spirits of her people in her, the energy of the woods flooded in Eliza, a last gift of hope. She heard a pack of wolves howl in distance. Eliza turned her head, and saw Christopher had gained speed. She ran faster, and tried to ignore the pain that traveled throughout her body. Eliza lifted her head up to the rain, and let it wash the blood off her face. Another howl acknowledged Eliza the pack of wolves were closer. Eliza winced as the poison deepened in her body, withered on the ground, and as she fell, she knocked her head on a rock.
She curled into a ball, an attempt to vanish from the world. In one direction, a pack of wolves, and the opposite direction, Christopher, either way, Eliza was trapped.
The earth shuddered under the paw prints of the wolves. They surrounded her, and the leader, the biggest wolf, walked up to Eliza. He sniffed her blood, and could smell her grief. He licked her wounds, and nudged Eliza.
"Fight. There is still time." He growled. Eliza looked in the alpha's hazel eyes and saw her own, Elf King's eyes. She saw determination and loyalty to the people, and the small hint of anguish, the curse of the gift to know what will become.
Eliza tried to answer the wolf, but only blood spewed from her mouth. The wolves growled, and Eliza turned her head to see Christopher with the sword in his hand. He was out of breath, his eyes were blank, and he was completely drowned in the shadows.
The rain stopped, and the moon came out from the hidden. She shone her light on Eliza, and her tears glistened across the sky. Eliza turned her head away from Christopher, and looked up to the sky. She felt her heart give a tug, as she looked at the stars.
"They say my people came from the earth, and when we die, we return the earth." Eliza whispered. "They also say, some are cursed and live on, between life and death. They are cursed because they are unhappy, or angry." She looked at Christopher.
"We both are cursed people."
Christopher raised his sword in the air, Eliza saw a wolf out of the corner from her eye leaped in the air, and she smiled.
For Eliza no longer felt the burn from her blood, nor the bang on her head. She felt like air, like the whisper between the leaves on a blissful summer day.
She felt a sharp pain in her heart.
Eliza, the last Light Elf, died.