From the confines of a dark, richly decorated cloak, a pair of dark eyes reflected the moonlight that illuminated the mountainous forest which lay ahead. She was considering her route carefully for a moment as her mind tried to fend off another stab of pain originating from her heart.
How could I have been so stupid?
Searching the pines for a few more seconds she decided to continue forward and jumped for her perch. The hood of the cloak left the top of her head as it caught the wind, revealing the features of a beautiful woman with pale skin and dark hair which nearly disguised the length of her ears completely.
The elven woman had been running for nearly an hour now and she had not seen her pursuer for most of that time. She fleetingly thought she might be nearly free and fought her body’s instincts as she advanced across the rocky terrain.
She had given birth only a few hours before and, as one may suspect, this had left her in a severely precarious state. Physically, she was exhausted. But she was far from weak for she possessed abilities beyond those of the mundane. Drawing heavily on these abilities, she almost felt normal and was able to ignore the weariness that would have been her consistent companion for the duration of her escape.
The crisp early spring air of the Larian Mountains kept her cool as she moved. But cooler still were the thoughts that assailed her mind. She could not believe that the man she loved, the one she now fled from, would turn out to be so…
“Evil.” She whispered before she swiftly vaulted over a fallen tree that laid along the path she was on. Her raven tinted hair fell into her face, briefly blocking her vision as she landed softly with her new born son still clutched securely in her arms. Before she had gotten far into her run, she had taken a few moments to cast a spell on him. So far the spell kept him in a very deep sleep. He had not woken once through the entire duration of her run.
“You can’t hide forever, Nalef.” A deep voice boomed into the night.
She shuddered as her long ears registered the noise. She forced her hair back again as she thought about her current predicament some more.So I hadn’t evaded him yet. Of course I haven’t. It’s all because of that gods cursed ability.
She continued to run, her dark cloak flapping in the wind, desperate to evade him. Though her magical might was regarded in most circles as extraordinary, she couldn’t keep this up forever. No caster could. Her lover would catch them at this pace. She had to think of something fast.
As if the emphasize the point, a wide swath of forest and stone where she had been standing only moments before erupted into flame. Roars of frustration laced with profanity in the red dialect of draconic filled the night air. It was soon drowned out by the sound of massive wings pumping in the wind as Brelzic continued to search.
He is gaining. But even should he catch me, I will never hand over my child. I’d sooner die before I would see that happen.
More flames swiftly slashed through the forest before her and she was forced to dive into an alcove of rocks, landing on her back so as not to crush the newborn. The crimson dragon passed overhead and she was forced to wait a few moments. Before she dove into this refuge, the forest had begun to look very familiar to her eyes. She was certain that she knew where she was now.
If I can just get there…
She waited a few moments more before she emerged from her rocky shield. She didn’t hear the beating of wings on the wind and decided that was sign enough for her to make a run for it. She dashed parallel to the walls of flames that had now closed in from both in front of her previous course and behind it.
Then, through the calamity caused by the conflagration, she heard it.
“We’re almost there sweetie.” She said to her newborn as she continued to run.
After a few more moments, the sound of rushing rapids growing increasingly louder a she went, Nalef finally saw the white mist reflecting in the light of the moon. The rising mist marked what was the first in a massive series of cascading water known as the Tears of Larian.
While they were widely considered one of the most breathtaking sights in the land, she didn’t stop. She didn’t have the breath to spare anyway.
Instead she hurried along the length of the river that fed the falls, uphill towards the source. Angry roars again filled the night air and every now and then an animal would dart away from the river, wise enough to attempt to hide from the wrath of an angry dragon.
A few minutes more of running along the increasingly calm water brought Nalef to her destination. The Pool of the Ancients. As she approached the water’s edge, her mind drifted back to a time she had been here in the past.
Nalef had studied this seemingly natural occurring spring during her apprenticeship years. In the early years of her stay at the Arcane University of Caori, she had decided to study this particular spring because a few mysteries continued to surround it despite the fact that it had been well studied in the past. She loved mysteries for they often lead to closely guarded secrets.
While the spring was only a couple hundred feet in diameter, it still managed to feed numerous lakes and rivers further throughout the mountains and even deep into the elven nation of Caori. This led most people to believe that the spring was astoundingly deep, but early into her study, she found that this wasn’t the case. The spring turned out to be only twenty feet deep, the deepest part located in the center the perfectly circular source of water.
Another peculiar item of note that Nalef had discovered was that the Pool of the Ancients interacted strangely with most types of magical use. Sometimes, during her late night studies, she would require the aid of a light spell.
This was a spell that the most novice of spell casters had the ability to use so she had never thought twice about using it in seemingly normal conditions. However, when she cast the spell around the pool for the first time, complications arose.
Nalef would cast the spell on an object and be immensely frustrated when the spell would have no effect. The first time this happened she threw the seemingly useless item, a stick, deep into the woods and was surprised to see the area it landed in had suddenly become illuminated by the spell she had cast. She went over to the stick and picked it up, puzzled at why the spell had suddenly begun to function. While casting the spell, she had never used any words that would have caused such a delay in the effect manifesting itself. Still trying to puzzle it out, she had brought the stick back to the tent, but about thirty feet from the water’s edge the light spell died again.
That’s when she learned the pool had the ability to negate magic. It just wasn’t a constant effect. And strangely enough, she would later discover that the opposite could happen around the water’s edge as well when she was nearly blinded by the same light spell, a spell which normally should produce no more than light than that comparable to a normal fire lit torch.
Nalef theorized that the pool’s effects may have depended on the phase of the moon or the positioning of the stars, but in the end, the mystery proved to be too much for her to figure out during the short duration of her stay.
She did learn of other things through her studies here, but the effects the pool had on magic were the last of the important ones and were the ones most relevant to her current situation. Those and one other she learned of this thanks to another time she had visited this spring only ten months previously.
She had brought Brelzic here. At the time she was madly in love with the charismatic, seemingly elven man. They had spent a lot of time together over the previous year and had grown very close. She decided to show him the beauty of this area and the two set off to spend an afternoon by the Pool’s edge.
As they walked through the forest and neared their destination, Brelzic seemed to be growing increasingly agitated. It wasn’t like him for he always seemed to be in control of his emotions. The strong silent type, as she had often heard men like him called.
When she asked him about it, he confessed that he had a strong ability to sense magic, particularly in other people. He admitted that he sensed the magic in her and was intrigued by the high magnitude of power she possessed. It was this that had initially drawn his attention to her. Then he explained that as they were nearing the Spring of the Ancients, he was having more difficulty sensing that magic.
It was for that reason which Nalef had decided to run with her son to this destination. Here Brelzic would not be able to trace her before she had a chance to act. Here she had control she did not have elsewhere. From here she could get her son to safety.
A loud thud from across the calm waters of the spring shook that thought and the memory of the afternoon she and Brelzic had shared, from her mind.
“There you are!” A robed figure said as it materialized from the massive cloud of dust that had been stirred up. It made a point of looking around before it turned again to regard her from across the pool. “I figured you would come here, Nalef. Do you have Al’ev with you?”
She had heard of his plans for her son only hours after as she had brought her son into the world.
“Yes, this is the one.” She had heard Brelzic say from just beyond the closed door to her room.
“This half breed? This is what you…He will be the one?” Another voice had said questioningly.
“Yes. Can you not feel it? He already has more potential than the vast majority of the magic users in the world. It’s amazing. Even I didn’t think he would be this strong. Our plans can move forward once we have him ready.”
“What of the woman?”
There was a pause before Brelzic answered. “She may yet have some knowledge that we can use.”
“If she doesn’t?”
“Then I’ll deal with her.”
Nalef heard a little of more of his plans but was shocked by what Brelzic had already said.
Didn’t he love me? Wasn’t our plan to settle down in that home and live a quiet life with our newborn son? Was I really only something to be used and discarded when I was no longer of “use?”
One thing she did know was that with every word he uttered outside her room, her heart broke a little more. But at the same time her determination to not let such a fate befall her beautiful son grew stronger and stronger until she acted. She grabbed her things from around the room, cast a few spells to bolster her strength and speed and then knocked Brelzic and another man over as she rushed out the door, catching her son with a telekinetic spell as she went.
She had escaped from her small home in the mountains and began to run from the man she had loved with only her son and the few items she had gathered before bursting out of her room.
From the time she left the house until the moment she saw Brelzic again show himself across the pool, she had prayed to the gods that it had all been a bad nightmare. But, as she came out of this memory, she saw Brelzic was beginning to circle the Spring of the Ancients in an attempt to reach her.
“Stop where you are.” She said, defiance flaring up in her eyes.
Brelzic halted his advance and stared at her for a few moments before he spoke. “He has a great destiny ahead of him. Hand him over. Now.”
She had never heard him use this tone of voice. It was colder than she had thought possible from him.
How did you hide your true self from me for so long? Am I really a fool or are you just that evil?
“I’ve heard of your plans for him and I’ll tell you this. He may have a destiny, but it will never be with you.” She replied sternly, tears filling her eyes, and she began to wave her free arm about in a pattern she had memorized years previously.
Brelzic knew there was nothing he could do from where he was. He was still too far from the elven woman to stop her. “You can’t hide him from me forever, Nalef. I will find him.”
“No Brelzic. There will come a day when it is Al’ev who finds you. That is a day I look forward to.” She retorted. “Until then I’ll make certain you search in vein.” Then with a couple more whispered words and a few final motions of her hand, there came a bright light and when Brelzic’s vision had cleared, Nalef and Al’ev were nowhere to be seen.
He stood silent for a few moments, quietly seething at the arrogance of lesser races, before he assumed his dragon form once more. He then launched himself into the night knowing he’d have to begin the search for his son immediately.
No matter where she hid, he would find her. After all, the world was a tiny place to a dragon as powerful as he. It was only a matter of time.