Elaejia (prime)/2019-07-31 - Sought

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This is a creative work set in the world of Elanthia, attributed to its original author(s). It does not necessarily represent the official lore of GemStone IV.

Title: Sought

Author: Elaejia Silithyr Loenthra

After the court session, Joss left with Lady Orelwen, Aendir would likely soon follow Lady Rohese, and Ela was left again, alone. Alone after the unsatisfying drama of the poisoners, brought for nothing from Mist Harbor, even with a mountain of circumstantial evidence and the testimonies of respected Elves.

If the Mirror will not raise a finger to protect her people, for fear of appearing tyrannical even to outsiders, what business is it of mine to involve myself any longer? Let all of Illistim fall gasping, purple-faced, at her Reflection’s feet then.

Ela strode on through the night, avoiding the direction of the villa, avoiding her kin and their companions without realizing it. Her sandaled feet took her toward Veythorne at first, but she turned aside. (He might have taken her there, breathed through her mind, unnoticed). Southwestward then.

A tinge of regret, and self-recrimination: Friends... They are endangered by the Mirror's hesitance. Do I dare open myself to friends? The earnest kindness of some of these Elves is written upon their sleeves. The cleverness too, the subtlety, and the concern for Elvenkind is clear, even under the city-state's current regime.

The postern gate. Perhaps some uncultivated environs, true and straightforward. (Lacking soft dark eyes, glancing elsewhere, whispered by again, unconsidered.)

The westward path was rocky, unwelcoming to those unused to appreciating nature's artistry. a delicate, prickled vine clinging to the cliff side (perhaps a cutting to nurture up the southern wall of the villa), a cluster of white tufted nagel flowers, spreading a soft sweet scent from a hearty shrub, slowly widening a crack in the granite, (he's never been able to tame that tuft), a tableau of pale fallen stones festooned with night darkened lichens and mosses (the contrasts there are interesting, perhaps a sculpture could be thus adorned with the right encouragement...).


A startled yelp, a face whipped toward the sound of something large, clattering explosively upon the stones, peering into the darkness. Nothing at first made itself obvious, but a shattered shape lay among the stones. What could that... it looks like a broken staff or bough.. but there aren't any trees large enough here...

The rushing sound of wings filled the air. Looking up, she saw an absurdly large dark form sweeping downward. Not large enough to be a griffin, thankfully; still, its wingspan must have been nine feet. A dusky head, was that grey or reddish? Difficult to tell in the darkness. It glided smoothly down to land among the shattered remnants of the bough-- of the bone, she realized. It had been a bone, a femur perhaps, of some large creature. An ogre? The bird, a vulture, it dawned on her, ignored her and began picking through the shards, pulling marrow in clumpy ropes from the remnants and tossing its narrow feathered head up and back with jagged, knifelike precision to catch them in a cruelly hooked beak.

Revulsion rolled across her skin, at the same time that a spark of fascination flickered to life, curiously, just at the back of her throat. She blinked and shook her head, raising a hand from where it had lain clutched at her breast to cover her mouth for a moment. The movement caught the creature's attention and it stopped its rooting to regard her, turning its large head this way and that. Long dark feathers trailed from its sharp eyes, and a dark tuft sprouted beneath its chin. Rusty red, she decided, its head is stained rust red... Could it be blood? Did it find a dead ogre and dismember it only for a leg to break open for marrow? ... Or kill one itself?

The bird clacked its beak in her direction, once, twice. Protecting its meal, she guessed and took a step back, I should move on before it takes greater umbrage. But it had returned to its gory business, seemingly filled with purpose, and her feet had apparently taken up common cause with her throat and, transfixed, refused to move.

She glanced down at her court gown and snorted a little laugh at herself, What a fool I can be sometimes. This creature has clearly seen fit to remind me in a memorable fashion. Heedless of the dear fabric, she cast about for a moment and then quietly sat on a nearby mossy stone. He clearly doesn't mind my company and I wish to order my thoughts on the mockery of a court. This is as good a place as any, and who knows, perhaps he is a sign. She chuckled inwardly at this silly notion. Is there any advantage here for the Silithyrs to turn in their favor?

A wet slap disrupted her thoughts. Glancing down, a long string of vermillion marrow lay at her feet, a length stretching over the arch of her left foot.

A disgusted sound escaped her and she shook off the gore and shuffled backwards before glancing up at her company. "Am I disturbing you after all?" she demanded in an aggrieved but soft tone. The bird made no reply but watched her intently for a moment before reaching down and taking another ungainly swallow of the awful marrow. It paused and regarded her again. It clacked its beak. Did it sound... irritable? It spread its wings and beat them in her direction.

"A gift?" she asked aloud, surprising herself with her own voice. The bird clicked its razor beak in rapid succession, almost... Very nearly sounding like a snicker. Don't be ridiculous, Ela. Vultures don't share meals, and they certainly do not laugh. They're solitary unless raising young and you very clearly aren't a vile vulture fledgling.

"Well, I would not want to put you off your supper, so I will take my leave," she said primly, rising to her feet and sidestepping the congealing mass, be it an offering or pelted warning. She turned to head back to the city but hesitated; It's still early, the villa might well be... in use. Some tiny satellite in her breast drew a tide of stinging salt water within her to a crest of gooseflesh and then subsided. She shook the feeling off with a clenched jaw, refusing by fierce will to pin any language to the feeling.

Instead she turned northwest and continued up the path toward Seethe Naedal. The vulture watched her go, clicking its beak softly.

She picked her way to the hot spring, and finding a suitable spot sat beside it. She unlaced her sandals and lowered her feet into the warm water, taking a moment to scrub the blood from her foot with a grimace. Ugh. I had no idea vultures guarded their finds with slung shreds of it... seems rather wasteful and counter-productive against other beasts. Perhaps it was an example of avian madness.


"Oh, for pity's sake," she cried, "I left you in peace, leave me in mine!"

The vulture clacked at her, staring intently. It tore some marrow from its new find and straightened, the gore dangling wetly. It seemed to Ela that it was eyeing the distance to her speculatively

"Oh no, I don't want it," she said hurriedly, "It's all yours!"


Falling partially on a stone to her right, a lengthy, looping, loathsome tendril flopped partway into the spring. This creature could be Celaena's spirit animal, it's implacable. The gelatinous rope in the hot spring water tightened in the heat. She watched it, sickly entranced for a moment. The spark in her throat grew into an ember. Her stomach, however, clenched, repulsed.

"I am not interested in sharing your supper," she said tightly. The vulture only looked at her expectantly. Frowning, she steeled herself and picked the now firm mass of marrow from the spring, peeling the uncooked (auuuguurh...) portion from the stone, and flipped it back in the vulture's direction. The reaction was instantaneous.

The vulture snapped the gore from the air, swallowing it in a flash, and released a piercing trill that drilled into her ears like drake daggers. Copper flooded her mouth, and the ember in her throat seemed to hiss and throw sparks that landed variously in her earlobes, along her collarbone, in her chest, her belly, her thighs. She gasped in shock, back arched. She felt alight along all her nerves for an incredible, interminable moment. Just as suddenly, the sparks winked out. Only the ember remained, pallid, drawing into itself, creating a... vacuum.

Stricken, horrified, staring at the vulture, Ela croaked "What.. what are you?"

It chattered its razor beak at her again, snickering.

She got to her feet and ran.

Her sandals lay forgotten, the crust of blood on the vamp of the left drying in the evening air.

Whispering the cantrip that would camouflage her, make eyes slip over her without recognizing her presence, Ela crept into the villa's courtyard and thence to the sitting room. Her caution was unneeded, the ground floor of the manse was dark and silent. Her bare feet made no sound on the cold marble floor.

She had run nearly all the way to the Silithyr residence, looking up constantly for evidence of pursuit, but the clouded night sky held its secrets, and no moon betrayed dark wings behind her.

She slid open a drawer in her writing desk, pulling a sheet of rose-hued paper and a quill from it. After a few deep, steadying breaths, she leaned over the desk and wrote in a ragged hand:

Aendir, Joss,

I must go for a short while, something pressing has made itself known to me... I will say no more until I improve my understanding. 

Do not look for me, please, I will not thank you for it. 

She paused here for a span of heartbeats, and then signed it: All my love, Ela.

Murmuring thanks that the creature apparently didn't approve of indoor spaces, Ela eased into the cabin warily. She had passed it many times and knew it was uninhabited, but still in decent enough condition.

An irresistible feeling had overtaken her as she had left the villa. Initially her intention had been to seek knowledge, from books or else from some wise person (who? she hadn't decided yet). However, as she made her way toward the library Aeis, again her feet seemed to deny her. She turned instead toward the Sapphire gate, keeping to the shadows. Still barefoot and in her increasingly bedraggled gown (it would probably be a total loss), she carried only a small valise containing paper and quill and ink. She kept up the camouflaging magic in (likely vain) hopes of confounding the creature, and made her way eventually to this place.

What I need to know... I think I already know. Or at least the beginnings of it. And I won't find advice in any tome.

She thought back to her advice to Joss, Write it down...

The surviving ancient Ashrim treatises on the creatures and mysteries of the sea had always held a special fascination for her, when she had been a bookish youth. They had obviously taken special care to discover all they could about their chosen domain, and used weighted lines to measure the depths of the sea. On occasion, things returned from those depths with their lines. They were not always pleasant things.

Ela looked out the window at the trees surrounding her retreat. 'My weighted line is out there, I think. Now to record my findings... It would not be easy, but plumbing the depths of anything never are.