Stories : Syilara's Stories
It is an inescapably lengthy life that is bestowed upon my race. But one learns, through the course of decades and centuries, that you can not escape the inevitable and you eventually have to make do with what you have.
My name is Syilara Heshimel and I have the misfortune of being the youngest child of the most magically acclaimed family in Xoth Sarandi. For centuries my family has created and sold the port keys that everyone uses to navigate the Sea Portals. It is a distinguished honor to serve the nobility of Xoth Sarandi and the rewards have been substantial. But to my family’s upmost disappointment, magic is not my forte. I know all about it. It’s impossible to be a Heshimel in Xoth Sarandi and not be educated in magic. I’m not sure if it is pure stubbornness or a true lack of talent, but I have not had any desire to partake in the use of magical arts. I grew up watching my brother and sisters creating dancing lights and moving objects with a disemboweled hand at very early ages. But I was more apt to climb a tree and gaze out over the ocean when I was in the city, or the fields around our estate in the country, touching, smelling and soaking in the environment around me. I have three older siblings who can follow in the family footsteps. You would think this majority would be enough for my parents, but alas, they want unanimous.
The more they forced magic upon me, the more I ran. The woods became my haven. I loved it there. While I still enjoyed studying and learning, I also thrived on participating and being part of something far larger than myself. The books I studies told me all about the fauna and flora and even gave me ways to survive and track the creatures around me, but nothing replaces experience. However, the fact that I craved this experience was repulsive to my family and they discouraged it at every opportunity. It was only through bribery and begging that I was able to get Elarin, the servant in charge of catching the game for our table, to teach me to use a bow and give me the basics of swordplay. His fear of losing his position created a short training series, but it was enough to make me realize that I didn’t belong in sophisticated, cultured, civilized, and utterly boring magical society. I wanted to embrace my more rudimentary elven roots.
Amongst the busy schedule of a nearly noble, I managed to squeeze in time to practice with my bow and sword. I even tracked a few animals, adding to Elarin’s catch at times. I’d try to see if I could survive on my own and would spend days out in the woods, only to come home with a growling stomach to the insipid hollering of my family. They had so much going on in their lives I was surprised they had even noticed I was gone.
Mother and Father tried even harder then to occupy my time in the city with plays, musicals, readings, and of course, magical study. They were quite relentless but I managed to escape from time to time, just to clear my soul and feel the earth beneath my feet.
My trysts were becoming fewer and my temper shorter. It completely exploded when Mother and Father told me that they had secured a position for me at the magic school they had all attended in Shallenoi and I was to leave in a matter of days. I had lived with them for nearly 200 years and they were so obtuse they simply could not see or understand that I had no desire to be a caster of spells. I’ll be honest that I sense I am capable of magic, but I don’t want it. To the depths of my soul, I want the cool earth beneath my feet, the sun warmed air around me and the endless opportunities a life on my own could produce. I want to be respected and known for what I can accomplish outside of magic and outside of being a Heshimel.
I was truly at my whit’s end and I could feel centuries of disappointment and boredom beginning to consume me. As my family escorted me to the dock to see me off to Shallenoi, I excused myself politely, went into the terminal, grabbed my bag from the surprised porter, quickly purchased a ticket on another ship that was drawing anchor to Qual on the other side of the dock from where I was suppose to be, and I jumped on as the gangplank was being taken up. As we neared the Sea Portal I could see my family frantically looking around the docks. I’d escaped. Yet the funny thing about getting what you want is, it may not always be what you dreamed.
I’d spent my life to that point in a society dominated by elves. There were so few non-elves that their existence was inconsequential. But upon disembarking in Qual, I was no longer the majority. Yes, there were many of my purer race, but mixing of our blood with those of humans was apparently preferable in this land judging by the number of half-breeds. I was fascinated at how some looked more human and others elven. I found myself staring and wanting to touch and ask questions, as if I was on an interactive trip to a museum. My interest, of course, was not returned and I realized I was being seen as a typical, stuck up, self-centered elf. While raised to believe that elves are the chosen race and that it is our duty to protect those of weaker races, I must admit I found it hard to truly look down upon humans and half-elves. It is not their fault what bodies their souls were placed into.
But it wasn’t just my curiosity that ostracized me from the inhabitants of Qual. My parents would be proud to know that they raised me so well in their noble ways that my mere presence radiated the stature of my birth. I lost count how many times I heard, “city elf,” whispered degradingly as I walked by. Well, this “city elf” was a leopard wanting to change her spots. However, as with leopards, no one wanted to belief that I truly wanted to change and no one, not for bribery or begging, would agree to help me in my desired training as a ranger. Stubborn to the end, I gathered the supplies I could muster and headed to the woods. Perhaps the elves, humans and half-elves in the forests would be more open minded than the ones in the towns. But there too I was seen more as an interloper and annoyance. Even at nearly 200 years old, I was seen as too young and rebellious and that this was a phase that I need not even indulge since I would grow out of it quickly. It was as if my parents had sent word to every living being around the world that I was a foolish chit and not to pay any heed to my requests.
So again, I set out on my own. I parlayed with trees, practiced my bow techniques on targets and small animals that I could eat. I learned to cook over an open fire in the woods, I built make shift shelters and managed to stay alive as I ventured around, soaking it all in. I enjoyed the peacefulness of it but will admit that I was lonely and unsure of myself. I could feel that my family was looking hard for me and I was resisting it as much as I could. But without some way to truly focus my attention, I feared they would find me and that I might be willing to return. Yet it was the other presence I felt, the one where I frequently felt like I was being watched or followed, that kept me going. I just had a sense that someone was out there and it was an opportunity in the making.
I had certain spots where I would frequently go and started discovering hand made targets left for me to shoot at, or different types of arrows to use. I even found leaves filled with fruits and berries informing me that they were edible, and quite delicious. A benefactor was there, even if he wouldn’t make his presence known. I caught a glimpse of him once when I was aiming my bow with a new type of arrow, and I heard the leaves around me crush gently as a hand pressed on the small of my back, straightening my posture, as another squared up the angle of my arms. I released the arrow and it sailed to the dead center of the target. A place my arrows had rarely visited. A mumbled, “Do it right,” was all I heard as the cloaked figure returned to the depths of the woods.
It wasn’t until I completely let my guard down and nearly died, that I learned my benefactor’s identity. I’d spent many nights in the forest since my arrival in Qual, but none of them had the feel this night had. I should have trusted my instincts and left for the town or sought better shelter, but I didn’t want to go any further. So, I made camp and went into reverie, entirely too deeply. I woke to searing pain in my left shoulder and screamed at the sight of a dark elf as he aimed his talons at me again. My lack of experience and training was quickly realized as the drow cut away at me. I was entirely too terrified to utilize anything that I knew about survival and felt my life slipping away. As I began to lose consciousness, I saw a flash of movement in the pre-dawn darkness and the sounds of swordplay.
I awoke with a start to find myself in a comfortable bed in a small cottage by a roaring fire. The pain was nearly unbearable, but I was obviously alive and being tended, judging by the bandages on my body. In the shadow near the fireplace I saw a glimpse of a figure and heard the familiar voice. “You’re an idiot.”
I laughed at the understatement. “Yes, I suppose I am,” I replied. “You could change that.”
“No,” he said gruffly.
“I won’t waste my time on the rebellious Heshimel child,” he stated. “You aren’t worth it.”
I sighed heavily. I had intentionally left the name of Heshimel behind me, so the fact that he knew who I was surprised and irritated me.
“You may know my name, but you certainly don’t know me. I’m not like my family.” Damn if I wasn’t getting tired of this routine!
“You will have to be different, if you want my help,” he started to move from the shadow and came full into my view. At first glance, he was a darker skinned half-elf, but as he drew closer and stood next to me I realized he was definitely human but the other half was drow. I stared at him in amazement and, I will admit, a touch of fear. There’s not an elf or human alive that isn’t afraid of the drow. I suddenly knew why he kept to himself and had been reluctant to reveal his identity. But he’d saved my life from a drow, thus proving that his intentions certainly couldn’t have been evil. He stood over me, staring back, judging my reaction. After my initial shock, I simply stared back at him.
“What is your name?” I asked.
“I would prefer you call me Syilara instead of the ‘rebellious Heshimel child.’”
“Does that statement not describe you?” he asked.
“Perhaps, but I don’t like it any more than you must like being called a half-breed monster,” I stated. That actually drew a smile from the man.
“You have a point.” And from there, our friendship started. Two outcasts finding solace and understanding in the other. He taught me everything he knew and he was a skilled marksman with a longbow and an amazing survivalist. I thrived under his teachings and learned to be far more accepting of everything around me, from the weather to the people and animals. Despite this constant battle raging inside his soul, Avillian was a gentle man. He loathed his evil half and fought against it daily. Not having any human reference to present him, I did tell him everything about my branch of elves that I knew. It helped him to understand the fear his presence created, especially given his uniqueness.
Decades past before I even realized it. Avillian aged but still seemed to have many years left in him. He drug me around the forests, ridding the areas of unwanted pests, criminals and drow. Somehow we managed to develop a reputation for being the champions villagers and townfolk needed when bothered by some pestilence. It brought a level of acceptance to Avillian that he’d never experienced and humbled me before what I’d always been told were lesser races.
But my appreciation of the lesser races multiplied significantly when I lost faith in my own. I’d been on Qual nearly 40 years when my family found me. Avillian and I were practicing with our long swords when out of the trees came balls of fire that hit Avillian squarely. Stunned, I went to him, screaming, taking my cloak off and trying to extinguish the flames. Strong hands pulled me away from my dying mentor and I glanced up into the eyes of my father.
I managed to break free from his grip and I ran into the small cottage that Avillian and I shared and retrieved a potion that I knew he kept for emergencies. I managed to retrieve my sword as I ran back to kneel beside Avillain. As I reached under his head to put his lips to the small vial, a shadowy hand that I had seen many times pushed the vial away and it shattered on the ground. Standing, I drew my sword to face my father and brother.
“You bastards!” I seethed at them.
“Syilara, he’s a drow!” my brother yelled.
“We were trying to save you from his attack!” my father assured me.
“You idiots! You see only what you want to see, not what is there! We were practicing with our swords, not fighting. Avillian is half human and has saved my life more times than I can count. Yet you come in here and kill him without reason or provocation! You egotistical, self-centered…elves!” I couldn’t help it, I went after my father. My hate for him at that moment was all consuming. But luckily for all of us I guess, my brother was able to cast a dastardly little spell that held me in place and they disarmed me quickly.
It took a multitude of those hold person spells to get me back to Xoth Sarandi. Why they were so insistent to get me back home, I truly do not know, nor will I ever know really. I refuse to think it was out of affection for me. For all that I am their child and sister, they know precious little about me or who I truly am. If they expected me to just pick up on their insisted routines as soon as I got home, they quickly learned otherwise. My hate for them and their particular form of magic consumed me and I balked and fought them at every turn. I did all I could to make them relinquish me but they refused and I finally had to admit that I truly had no where else to go. My mentor and best friend was dead and I was stuck under house arrest with a family I loathed.
So when they suggested that it was time I got married, I did little more than roll my eyes. If they couldn’t get me to agree to a life of magic, arrange a marriage that will at least benefit the family fortune and rid them of me. And benefit the fortune it would for they had arranged for me to marry Meathor’en ‘Gwith. It was well known that the ‘Gwith family was of royal blood, tracing their lineage directly to the king. Meathor’en, was the 9th son of the ‘Gwith family and stood 63rd in line to inherit the throne. He had about as much chance of becoming king as I did of becoming a sorceress. But I figured at least marrying him would get me out of the house and out from under my parents thumb.
Then I met him. Good grief, what an elf. He wears his superiority like a golden cloak. He’s never left Xoth Sarandi before and thus never experienced anything other than an elf-centric world. He gave himself to the teachings of Brith and serves the god as one of his paladins. Righteous and lawful, Meathor’en appears to think he knows it all. Despite the fact that we were raised in the same circle by parents with the same ideologies, we disliked each other immediately. I could just see his mind churning at the thought of marrying little more than a rebellious wood elf below his station. And I saw the irony in my parents marrying me off to my jailor. But joining the Heshimel and ‘Gwith houses would be quite an accomplishment. Even my mutinous self understood the significance and despite my anger, I was reluctant to deface my family publically.
At this point I truly didn’t care what happens. Perhaps my intended groom will go on some mission for his order and not return. Perhaps I could sneak away again. It is doubtful the ‘Gwith family would search as hard and long for me. Either way, I will just have to make due and bide my time until an opportunity presents itself. I can only hope this opportunity quickly makes itself known.