Serialized Original Fiction: "Neverdie" Chapter One, by Jon Wood (Page 34 of 4)
"Please, sit down." He had said, motioning to a nearby armchair, hoping to at least get an answer from his late night visitor. He was not disappointed, although he was surprised by her voice, its lilting, almost musical quality nearly completely matching that of his own wife. He supposed that it must be a quality among elven women.
"I would prefer to dry out M'Lord," she had said politely, motioning to the small puddle that was being created on the carpet beneath her. "I wouldn’t want to damage your furniture."
"Of course, of course." He had said, rubbing absently at his injured leg. “Look, I'm not getting up again, but if you would like some dry clothes, I could tell you where to find some of my wife’s cast-offs." Aileen had always had a weakness when it came to clothes. She had all different varieties, ranging from the most basic of human designs, to the intricate elven designs of her homeland.
"Thank you," she said gratefully, turning to face him. He had no idea then that hers was a face that he would see every day for the next three years. She nodded politely as he gave her proper directions ,and then hurried out of the room, dripping the entire way.
Ten minutes later, the girl had appeared once again in the doorway of the parlour. Although her silver hair was still wet, it had been brushed back, and out of her face. She had chosen one of his wife's elven dresses, it was an off-white colour, embroidered in greens and reds. The dress was slightly too large for the young elf, but she had managed. Not saying a word, he had motioned once again for her to sit, which this time she did, sitting tall with elven pride. Szark had always admired that about the long lived race. No matter how difficult a situation became, or how embarrassing, elves always seemed to come out with their pride intact.
"What can I do for you?" Szark had asked when he felt that he had given her sufficient time to bring herself together.
"Well," she replied, a faint hint of nervousness evident in her voice. "My name is Rowan Tallfelter." She had paused for a moment, whether it had been for dramatic effect or simply that he hadn't given her enough time, he wasn't sure. Then, she continued. "I have come from the lands of Oberon to study under you, if you will have me." Szark had had a hard time believing his ears. An elven woman, as he was led to believe, had never before possessed the gift. This both intrigued and worried him at the same time. Had she been a human woman, he wouldn't have hesitated, but in this case, he was bothered by the sheer abnormality of her proposal. This was the very reason that, twenty minutes later, he had accepted her as his apprentice. When he asked how she had come to be blessed with the gift she had told him a terrible story. A group of six young elven warriors had cornered her on a return home from the market. She had told him that they beat her and when one of them attempted to climb on top of her, a great stream of fire had erupted from her body. The first elf was badly burned, and the other five had been frightened away. Still, it was painful for the new stranger to speak of the event. Szark could tell that she had tried to hide the waver in her voice. So, these events led to the Green Mage taking an apprentice, something that he had never before considered.
Still stuck in his own memories, Szark Greengem strode up the stairs and into his own chambers. They were modestly decorated, his attempts at sculpture and the tools involved sat scattered on the floor, and over the mattress of his great canopy bed. After all, while the rest of his home presented others with the impression of a compulsively tidy man, nobody but he and his wife ever saw their chambers, and even a great wizard is only human.
Three long days passed by as Rowan Tallfelter completed her current section of study. She completed tasks hastily, wanting only for them to be done with so that she could begin her travels. She planned to return to her homeland, and find the older brother that she hadn't known existed until her teacher had provided her with the key to her past. Finally, she was finished. She sat in her own modestly decorated chambers (Szark had allowed her to continue her studies there on the second day) holding the book in her hands, the book that held not only the key to her past, but the key to her future. Getting up the nerve, she proceeded to her teacher's study. She knew that he would be there. He always seemed to be just where she thought he would be.
"Come in Rowan," came her teacher’s reply to her characteristically light knock.
"Yes Rowan?" he asked, his carefully trained tone never wavering.
"I.. I would like to ask..." She stumbled over the words, it was evident that this was nearly as hard on her as it was on him. Finally, gaining confidence, she finished her question. "ask for a leave from you." She couldn't bring herself to admit that she was quitting.
"Very well," he answered, turning to face her. His complexion seeming paler than usual, yet he was still the same man that she had come to admire. "you may leave at any time." No emotion, no feeling, just that. "When will you return?"
"I would like to be back by summer's eve," she lied. She wasn't sure why she did it. She could have told him that she planned never to return. That she wanted to stay with her true family if that was what they really were. Rowan Tallfelter simply could not bring herself to tell her dearest friend that they could quite possibly never see each other again. Humans lived so few years, only about one eighth as long as she would. So, instead of saying anything else, she turned, placed the book on Szark’s desk and simply walked away.
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