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First Love ~ First Death

Excitement was the word of the day all about the city.  Little snippets of information made their way to me ears.  I had never seen a war afore, but heared many a tale as elder tongues wagged and bragged of heroic deeds.  They speaked of great battles going on and barricades going up. Being new to this place, I was nae sure at all of what the war be about.  One name I heared over and over was Sorrow.  "Sorrow's troops attacked here," and "Sorrow's troops built a barricade."  "Sorrow's troops were beaten back over there."  Whoever this Sorrow person was, I nae wished to meet him.  The elders also warned.  "Ye be too young," they telled me.  "Be careful in ye wanderings and nae go out of the city."   

I watched in amazement as the elder Clerics called upon the gift of the gods and restored memories and even life to fallen soldiers.  Of course me mother had telled me of such wonders, but now I was seeing with me own eyes the truth of it.  Upon reaching a certain level in me training at the guild, Leader Esuin taught me a spell.  It was a spendid gift indeed.  It was then that I learnt of other spells I would be gifted if me studies went without neglect.  One day, if me faith be strong, I would be able to perform as the elders now did.

The guild halls filled each day with more and more bodies.  There seemed no end in sight.  The candles were never put out as the work went on into the nights.  Days melted together and some of the elders collapsed with exhaustion.  After a brief rest they would call to the gods once again and begin restoring the unfortunate fallen.  Empaths fell as they worked to restore broken bodies piling up around them.  The bards sang songs of courage until their voices cracked.  The paladins would cast spells of courage to aid all who helped the cause and then they too would be off to battle.  Crossing was indeed an exciting place in those times.

A break in the constant stream of bodies finally came.  Word spread quickly that things were changing.  Many wondered if the war were not over.  It was during this lull in the recently routine excitement that I saw him.  Gavwin.  A boy nae much older than meself, he spoke with confidence and wore a mischevious smile that brought sunshine to the tired halls.  I watched in awe as he juggled a rainbow of colors with the grace of the gods themselves.  The laughter he shared with his companion fell on me ears as a song.  To me shame I can nae remember his funny little friend's name, and so for the telling of this tale I shall call him Cory.

Gavwin tossed the colored balls into the air once more and I applauded.  His head snapped around and bright shining eyes fell upon me.  I swallowed hard as blood rushed to me cheeks in a flash of heat.  Gavwin smiled, and me heart melted.  He liked the applause and began to perform again.  He even gave me a try at it, carefully explaining the best way to go about it.  The three of us laughed as we chased after runaway balls.  I reached out to return the balls to Gavwin.  "Keep them," he laughed,  "Ye need the practice."  Cory snickered and nodded his agreement.  The clowning duo entertained me all afternoon, Cory following Gavwin's lead no matter where it went.  The time flew by.  It was as if we had been best friends for life.

Then Gavwin winked and nodded to Cory, and pulled me into another room.  He looked around at the empty benches and smiled.  Boldly, he asked me for a kiss.  I nae knew what to say!  Me lips had nae kissed any but me own mother.  Me cheeks flushed hot and red once more.  After a moment of awkward silence Gavwin reached into his pack and produced a most beautiful anklet.  Brass oak leaves woven tightly together reflected the waning rays of the afternoon sun.

"I'll give ya this fer a kiss," he teased.  The hair on the back of me head stood on end.  "And just what do ye think," I blurted, "I can be bought with a pretty bauble?"  I heared of women who would do such as this, but me mother called them wicked.  My arms folded over me chest in defiance as I started to turn away.

"No!" Gavwin nearly shouted.  "I would never think such a thing."  It was his turn to blush and I was glad.  "I like ya, Taffei."  The pink of his cheeks became crimson as he shifted his weight and shuffled his feet.

"Tell ya what," he said.  "The anklet be yours.  No matter what."  The confidence had returned to his voice as he held the shiney oak leaves out to me.

"No tricks?"

"No tricks," he confirmed.  Then that mischevious smile reappeared.  "But if ye decide to grant me that kiss.  I would nae turn it down."  His laughter filled the halls as he took me back to an eagerly waiting Cory.

"What now," grinned Cory.  "I be bored."

"Have ye seen the city, yet, Taffei?"  Cory bounced with excitement as he told us of his own adventures.  "I found some tunnels," he beamed, "but I got stuck and it was dark in there."  He frowned.

"Yet, here ye be," I giggled.  "Ye must have found a way out."  Cory nodded several times, making me almost dizzy just watching him.

"Let's go exploring!"  Gavwin exclaimed.

"Are ye sure it be safe," I asked as I thought about all those bodies the elders had attended earlier.

"Aye," Gavwin assured.  "The war be outside the city."  I looked at Gavwin and saw sincerity in his eyes, as well as a thirst for adventure.  He smiled as I touched the oakleaf anklet I now wore, and squeezed my hand.  In minutes we were out of the guild and rushing blindly through the streets.

Then we stopped, the fallen arch before us surrounded by signs of a battle recently past.  I shivered as a chill went up me spine. Arrows and swords lay in abundance all around us.  "Look at this," Cory breathed in awe.  "Get the arrows," Gavwin shouted. And we did just that, without a thought as to what we would do with them afterward.  "Ooohh," I heard Cory exclaim, "a broad tip arrow."  He howled with glee.

Then the laughter stopped.  "What be an elpalzi," I asked in a quivering voice.  The blood covered boots in front of me lead to knees which met me at eye level.

"Run!" Gavwin shouted.  But it was too late.  The elpalzi commander, one of Sorrow's hand chosen, had drawn back his sword.  I tried to back away, but me feet would nae move.  In the blink of an eye, I was dead.  Muffled shouts and hurried footsteps echoed in my thoughts.  I was still with my body, but no longer able to control it.  Me heart had beat it's last.  Me lungs had breathed their last.  Me venture away from home was at an end.  Silence closed in about me to fill the darkness already there.  I felt, if that be the right word, a coldness unlike anything I had ever known afore.

I heared more shouts.  This time comming closer.  A very large hand grabbed the neck of me shirt as a very large Kaldaran dragged me limp form along the ground. Then I heared voices and more footsteps.  It all seemed so far away.  "Krinahd, is she all right?" one voice asked. "Nae," boomed the voice behind the hand, "she be dead at the hand of elpalzi."  More strange sensations came to me.  I was terrified. The void was reaching out for me.  "It be all right," I heard a kind voice say.  "Depart from this place and ye will be safe."

With that, I let loose my hold on the life I had known.  Darkness abounded and all sound ceased.  It was as though I floated in nothingness.  Then I sensed a struggle going on.  When the sensation passed I heared  a voice.  The gods had looked on me with favor.  In a flash of blinding light and a flurry of the winds I awoke... back in my body and whole again.

Tears flooded me cheeks as I longed for the skirts of me mother to hide in again.  I was back, but back where I nae knew.  I did know I was lost, cold and alone.  "Me guild," I thought.  "I must find me way back to me guild."  And so I began wandering the halls, slowly at first for me body was yet weak.

"Taffei!"  I started at the sound of me own name.  Had the gods changed their minds?  "Taffei, I am so sorry."  It was Gavwin.  My fear and frustration began to turn to anger.  "Why did ye do that, Gavwin?" I shouted.  "Why did ye lead me to the battle field to be kilt?"  Without waiting for an answer I ran.  Frustration welling and tears streaming.  I was trapped in a maze I could nae find me way out of.

Eventually I did find me way out of the temple and back to the guild.  One elder cleric who had previously been very kind to me, took me in her arms and tried to comfort me.  I had nae cried so much or been so afraid since I had been but a child. Gavwin had followed me to the guild hall, trying veinly to speak to me.  But, the elders would nae permit it.  Each time he approached, they blocked his way.  Cory approached me on behalf of his friend and I told him that now was not the time. Gavwin persisted in trying to see me, to get me alone, following me from room to room.  Finally, through tears of frustration, fear and anger, I lashed out.  I told him to leave me be.

That was the last I ever saw or heard of Gavwin or Cory. I have regretted to this day, me harsh words.  The anklet still remains in me vault. Each time I go there, I see it and am reminded where it came from.  Because I shouted out in fear and anger, never will I know... what might have been ....

 

2001 Taffei Snarfn'tart, a.k.a. Pamela Conard