This stuff is entirely my own work, so tell me what you think and enjoy!
Taarm struck across the open moor. The moon bobbed between the prickly stars like a balloon amongst needles, and shone icy beams down onto the gorse and heather, giving them a frosty tinge. Taarm felt the star's points as they tore at her tunic and cloak like brambles. She walked sullenly on, kicking up dead bracken with the toe of her boot. The hot tears felt like tar as they stuck her already soaked eyelashes together.
She turned to look back at the house. The lights were dimmer now, and she could only just see the panicked shadows of servants as they rushed back and forth like chickens. A plague had hit the village during the night, and had wrapped its deadly fingers round the young, the weak and the elderly, including her foster parents. They were the only family she had ever known, and now they lay, dark as death waiting for a release from their relentless agony.
As Taarm fought her tears back, she tripped on a sharp stone, and fell forward into the rough moss. She tasted blood, and spat violently to clear her mouth of the foul sensation, and finally collapsed in a spasm of sorrow. She sobbed uncontrollably, her shoulders shaking. The frozen moon looked kindly down at her, bathing her in silver light.
Taarm wiped away the salty tears and looked back at the house; there was no light, only dark, and Taarm knew she was finally alone. The village gates were shut, but there was silence behind them. No sad cries for lost ones, no urgent shouts for help, no final sighs of relief, just silence. The plague had fed upon the sickness and souls of the villagers until its hunger was satisfied, and now it had claimed the village for itself. Taarm rose from the packed earth, and moved slowly on across the gorse.
The night was still young, and Taarm was already nearing the forest's leading edge.
Her instincts told her to get as far away from the village as she possibly could, but even so, she paused and looked back, her mind full of doubts. Perhaps someone had survived the awful plague, and was at this moment crouching terrified in a dark, untouched corner of some now empty hut? Or ought she to go back and at least give her companions respectable burials? Taarm grew worried, and began to think that perhaps she ought to go back to the village. But an almost silent voice whispered in her ear "Keep walking".
Taarm obeyed, and clutched nervously at her pendant as she entered the dark, foreboding cloud of trees.
She crept silently through, wide eyed and nervous. The silence did not seem to like being disturbed; every snapping twig, every rustle of a leaf, every placing of a foot made the shadowy trees rattle their thin, bony arms in protest. It seemed to Taarm that the whole forest was asleep, as if it were under some powerful spell. The moon's beams reached down past the heads of oak, pine and birch, lighting her way. Further and further she went, drawn on by the enticing moonbeams.
But as she passed a large, gnarled oak, a cloud passed over the moon, plunging her into the black of night. Petrified, Taarm stood frozen with fear, her eyes and ears alive for any sounds or sights indicating the approach of danger. Silence and darkness. Just then, she heard something slithering through the undergrowth on the opposite side of the path. Her heart in her mouth, she backed away from the noise which faded into the night a few seconds later. More silence. Suddenly, Taarm gave out a stifled scream; she could feel something against her back. Whipping round as quick as lightning, she closed her eyes in relief. It had been only the bark of the old Oak pressing against her tunic. Taarm sank to the ground, and pulled herself into the shelter of the tree as even the weather turned against her, and rain began to fall in small, cold drops.
A slight wind picked up, and rustled the leaves on the trees, and played whistling tunes in their branches. Taarm felt more tears roll down her face as she pulled her cloak tighter round her shivering body. The prospect of having to spend the rest of the night alone, cold, frightened and hungry in a place like that was almost as bleak as the weather. Burying her face in her knees, the elf continued to cry, wondering where she would be tomorrow night, and where her next meal would be coming from. Meanwhile, the night wore on, minutes as hours, hours as days, disguising themselves in the suffocating darkness.
It seemed like morning would never come, but when it finally did, it was a blessing.
Taarm's eyelids fluttered as she woke to the sun beaming down at her through the leaves. Now that it was day, the forest seemed much more friendly and less foreboding than it had done last night.
Taarm stretched and peeled her damp cloak off her cold body. The oak she had been sleepng under had obviously not provided her with much shelter, as her hair hair hung in thick, wet strands over her shoulders, and every part of her body was aching and cold.
Steadying herself against the tree with one hand, she rose jerkily from her sleeping spot, her joints cracking and groaning. Quickly covering the ground she had slept on with wet leaves, she then moved on her way, trying to make good time.
Taarm didn't know why she was trying to cover her footsteps, but a feeling in the pit of her stomach told her to avoid being traced as much as possible.
She must have covered at least five leagues that day, for she never ceased her walking until she reached a large crop of boulders in a copse on the other side of the forest. The small gathering of corkscrew hazels and beeches were situated in the middle of a large expanse of moorland, not unlike the one she had left behind her.
A thin stream trickled like flowing glass through the grasses and heather, making the pebbles on its bed gleam like polished gems. Hunkering down on her knees, Taarm dipped her cupped hands into the water. Lifting them to her lips, she took a sip and felt a shiver run through her body as the icy liquid coursed down her dry throat. Wiping her mouth on the back of her sleeve, she glanced up.
The Sun was riding low West in a golden sky, the occasional cloud dyed crimson by its setting rays.
Returning to the copse, Taarm slumped down with her back against a rock, exhausted. Her stomach complained bitterly at being left empty for an entire day, but she did her best to ignore it. Instead, she wrapped herself up in her cloak as before and huddled down to get some rest. The sound of gentle winds whispering in the tussocky Marram grass that grew in cracks in the stone, and the leaves of the trees overhead dappling the rosy sunlight lulled her to sleep.
Taarm had no idea what time it was when she awoke, but the sky was a velvety blue and the stars were out, so it must have been somewhere near midnight. There was slight chill to the breeze, and the elf pulled her cloak further round her shoulders. Her mind began to wander as she sat in the quiet. It wandered back to her very first memories, or those that remained.
As far as she could recall, she had lived in the village with her foster parents all her life, yet she had never really fitted in. For a start, she was at least a foot and a half taller than every other villager, her ears came to points whereas theirs were rounded and she had much keener vision and hearing than even the best village hunter.
She remembered with a sour anger how the other children she had been tutored with used to tease and mock her shamefully for her differences, and how they had outcast her from their friends, their games, even their lives. When they weren't bullying her, they were ignoring her. Only the old swordsmaster of the village, Breth, had taken the time to understand her. He was an ageing man, reaching his late fifties, and he had seemed to her the wisest person alive. She remembered with fondness how his dark brushy hair had been flecked with silver, and how his keen steely blue eyes always found their mark, whether he was fighting with a sword or casting his eye over a crowd to find a particular face.
He had had a calm, quiet voice; slightly husky at times, for he suffered frequently from ill health. Taarm's eye felt swollen and sore as tears pricked savagely at them; he had been one of the first to fall to the plague.
Taarm, trying to keep her mind from sad thoughts, recalled how he used to sit her by his fireside in the evening, and tell her stories about great heroes, quests and monstrous assailants. His soft voice could barely be heard above the crackling of the logs in the fire, yet she could distinguish every word he said. She smiled as she remembered how she had begged him again and again to tell her the legend of the Moon Angel; a great warrior blessed by the Divine Ones and sent to rid the world of darkness and evil.
Suddenly, she found herself by his hearth once more, young and wide eyed, listening to him telling and retelling the stories that had been so dear to her heart. The flames popped and snapped, and Breth stoked it with a long thin twig as he wove the legends.
Taarm felt the soft sheepskin rug beneath her hand as she sat, curled up in the glowing warmth. A small copper pot whistled in a homely way as it hung from the spit above the dancing fire, steam curling like mist from its metallic auburn lips. She felt her eyelids flutter as tiredness crept up through her small body, her sweet childish face bearing a satisfied smile. Her eyes drooped and closed. Darkness.
The sudden touch of cold stone against her cheek made her jump, but she didn't open her eyes. Perhaps she had just nodded off, and was now lying on the slate floor of Breth's hut. But the tickling moss flowers that pressed against her jaw told otherwise. Slowly lifting her eyelids, she found herself back in the copse at night time, adult, alone and cold.
Taarm let a quivering breath escape her lips as tears began to burn her cheeks again. Bringing her knees up under her chin, she sat for a little while, rocking herself gently back and forth, trying to comfort her restless mind, but to no avail.
A whisp of cloud that had covered the moon for a few minutes was carried away by a sudden gust of wind, allowing the lunar spotlights to shine down onto the moors. Looking up, Taarm felt a little strength return to her heart as the copse was filled with light again.
Absentmindedly trying to get herself into a comfortable sleeping position, she turned over onto her left side and idly scanned the rock face. A dark hole, just big enough for a person to fit into, sat glistening in the moonbeams. Taarm couldn't recall having noticed this, and, allowing her curiosity to get the better of her, edged round the mass of boulders to the entrance. A small inscription, shining with radiant white light, was engraved into the grey stone just above it. Taarm peered closely at it, but couldn't read the words. They were written in a graceful, flowing script, and the elf couldn't help but suspect they told some sort of secret or clue as to what lay beyond the dark mouth.
Looking cautiously about her, Taarm clutched at her pendant again, before taking a deep breath, and crawling into the tunnel.
The floor of the tunnel was slimy beneath her palms, and there was a dank, mouldy smell as Taarm followed it's winding path on her hands and knees. Somewhere off in the distance, she could here the occasional 'thap' of water as it dripped from the low, cracked roof.
There was no light that she could see up ahead, which gave her the impression that either the passage had a dead end, or that it led to somewhere deep underground.
Trying to keep her courage burning, she thought of the tales Breth used to tell her of the Moon Angel, and tried to imagine herself in the warrior's body. She had powers to protect her from any evil....she had the strength of a thousand armies......she had beautiful snowy wings sprouting from her shoulders......she had an enchanted sword that hung at her belt.......she had......
At that moment, Taarm's stomach plummeted as she felt what lay before her in the darkness. Nothing. She tried to grab onto a rock that jutted out on her right to stop herself from falling, but she tried in vain. The elf felt searing pain as the sharp edge of the stone scored through the skin on her palm as she struggled to maintain her grip; but the blood that flowed from the wound combined with the pain from the injury caused her hand to slip from the jutting hold, and she fell into the black below.
The fall was a fair way; at least ten feet or so, because a fraction of a second later she felt a hard surface come into contact with her backside, jarring her spine. From there, she slipped and slid down what was effectively a natural underground pipe, for she could feel cold water rushing beneath her as she slithered helplessly down the stony flume.
A few moments later, she shot out of the end and landed in a shallow pool of more water. She was soaked to the skin, and her back still ached from the hard impact of her fall. Taarm felt certain she had broken all the bones in her body as she attempted to stand up.
After about five goes, Taarm finally managed to find her feet, and once that was accomplished, she then tried to gauge her surroundings. She had come to land in a large, shallow pool that covered the entire floor of a vast cave. The walls were dark, almost black, but their surface sparkled with thousands of what looked like tiny stars or diamonds that seemed to eminate from within. The pool acted like a mirror, reflecting everything above it without a flaw or a ripple.
In the centre of the cave, a large glittering pinnacle rose majestically out of the glassy floor, like a mountain in the middle of a lake.
Taarm, now fairly sure she was fully capable of movement again, started towards the pinnacle. She kept her arms stretched out at all times, expecting the pool to get deeper as she went, but it stayed the same depth all the way. The water only just passed the soles of her feet, creating the illusion that she was walking on water.
As she reached her destination, Taarm looked up at it's slanting face, and began searching for hand and foot holds. She found them quickly, and then started to scale the scintillating tower.
The elf didn't know why she was doing this, other than to satisfy her curiosity to discover what was at its peak.
Finally reaching the top, Taarm pulled herself up and over a wide rocky lip into a natural basin. It's surface was perfectly smooth and had a cold, silky texture, and thin seams of what looked like crystal streaked through the bluey-black stone like lightning.
Casting her eyes round the rest of basin, Taarm noticed that a thick groove spiralled in from the edge to the very centre of the depression. Just where the groove ended, a small raised plateau had formed. It was, like the rest of the stone, a deep velvety blue-black, and all the veins of opaque white that ran through the basin snaked up and met on it's flat, disk-like top.
Taarm sat for a moment, marvelling at the beauty and elegance of the whole thing. The cave walls shimmered like stars in a midnight sky, and the seams of quartz were like tiny frozen rivers.
Absent mindedly, Taarm's fingers went up and caressed the pendant around her neck. She had worn it for as long as she could recall. It was a crystal prism that hung from a delicate silver chain; it was smooth and silky like the stone in the basin, and glittering and glassy like the walls.
Turning her attention back to the plateau for a fleeting moment, Taarm noticed what looked like a small slot like a rounded keyhole in its surface. Wondering for no reason at all, as minds do sometimes, if the prism on her pendant would fit into the hole, Taarm slipped the chain up over her head and placed the crystal in the rock. Almost immediately, a low humming began to emit from all directions, gradually growing. The seams began to glow with a brilliant white light, like the inscription over the tunnel entrance had done. The very stone beneath her began to vibrate as the humming grew louder and louder. A sourceless wind began to circle the cave, whipping Taarm's blonde hair across her face. Eventually, even the crystal on the elf's pendant began to glow, almost blinding her with its radiance. The water on the floor of the cavern rippled, and the mirror broke, distorting everything it reflected, and the diamonds in the walls were dazzling. Suddenly, Taarm's heart pounded even faster as she saw what seemed to be smoke rising from the slot in the plateau. But when the smoke was released, it didn't disperse or disappear. Instead, it began to whirl into a glowing misty orb that hovered above the pinnacle, shaped by the sweeping winds.
Taarm looked up at the will-o'-the-wisp, her expression a mixture of awe and fright, and it still did not change when everything except the humming died down again and became calm. The resonant music rose up from the very deepest darkest depths of the earth, echoing off the glittering walls. A voice unlike any other the elf had ever heard began to speak. It was low and high; it was soft and hard; it was cruel and kind. It was like a thousand voices speaking the same words in unison.
"Who comes to summon the Spirits of Mirdain-Kilana?"
Author's notes: Well, that's it. There is more, but no more for the internet. If you like my work, I do have more stories, so please read them. Tell me what you think of this though, and please please please review it!
Disclaimer: All of the characters portrayed here and all locations are entirely my own creation, and are registered under my name. This is completely my own work, and any similarities to anything else are purely coincidental.