The quiet rustle of trees, the sun peeking through the leaves. A woman was walking along a narrow path, her hair had already begun to turn gray with silver and wrinkles covered her face and hands with a thin net. Violet was a medicaster in the small village of Nearwoods, and that day she was leisurely collecting herbs for her potions.
Suddenly there was a sound in the bushes and then a soft cry. Maybe some animal got caught in the trap, Violet thought. But in the bushes she saw a little girl, a baby. Very tiny with golden curls and pointed ears.
It’s an elf child! Violet was surprised. The baby’s parents were nowhere to be seen. Violet took the baby and wrapped it in her cloak. The girl immediately calmed down and looked at Violet with her blue eyes.
Baby, where are your parents? The girl started sucking her thumb hard.
Hungry? Violet looked around, but did not see the parents of this girl.
Don’t leave you here, let’s go and feed you until your parents are found. I will name you Orlita. (edited)
It was 20 years ago, since then Orlita’s parents never appeared, no one knew why and how they left her in the forest. Violet raised Orlita and taught her skills - to collect the necessary herbs, brew potions. In addition, like all elves, Orlita possessed a small amount of magic, which helped to heal people in the village.
People at first did not like her and forbade their children to play with her, but over time they got used to and accepted help from her and old Violet. Orlita lived in this village, calmly and without fear, but in the evenings, she looked at the wide road leading to Rendarion, along which heroes who were looking for adventure sometimes passed. Orlita envied them a little, it was very interesting for her to listen to their stories, which they told while sitting in the tavern. Adventures were waiting for her very soon, but she did not know about it yet.
Late in the evening, Orlita went into the forest to look for special flowers that bloom at dusk and bloom one night. The sky was clear, without clouds, and the full moon illuminated the forest paths. She walked singing an old song about the lonely farmer Jack, who built a house, a barn, planted wheat …
Suddenly Orlita saw a fire in a clearing, it was clearly visible between the trees, she put down the basket and carefully parting the bushes with her hands began to approach the fire. She wasn’t scared, just curious. Suddenly, from behind, someone approached inaudibly and grabbed her, covering her mouth with one hand, she saw a man in a dark cloak with a hood.
- Don’t scream… he whispered. - You won’t scream?
Orlita shook her head to indicate that she agreed.
The hooded man released her.
- Who are you and what are you doing here? - He asked.
- I just came for flowers, they are called the Queen of the Night, this is a rare ingredient.
- Are you an herbalist? Then you must help me, my friend, he is injured, I left him and went for help. Will you help me and my friend?
- Oh sure. - Orlita was ready to help people everywhere and at any time.
The hooded man took her hand and led her further into the woods, leaving the herb basket on the path.
Orlita and a stranger in a cloak with a hood walked inconspicuous forest paths deep into the forest, the trees rustled softly, the voice of an owl was heard somewhere, crickets chirped in the thickets, the sounds of the night forest accompanied them. The stranger was silent, and Orlita did not dare to speak first. The path went to the left and the stranger turned onto it, pulling Orlita along with him.
“Now, we’re almost there,” he said quietly.
Ahead is the growth of a large juniper bush, and next to it…
- Wolf! Orlita, out of surprise, hid behind the stranger.
- This is my friend, Sigma. He fell into a trap, his paw was pinched. I could open the trap, but I can’t stop the bleeding. Can you help him?
- Your friend is a wolf? Why did not you tell me? I expected to see a person.
“I didn’t know your reaction, so I didn’t speak right away,” the stranger looked down in embarrassment.
A small canvas bag over her shoulder, which contained a bandage and several potions, Orlita always carried with her, which often helped herself (some plants are terribly prickly and do not like to be plucked).
Orlita applied herbal ointment to the bandage.
“Open the trap,” she commanded.
She was not afraid of wild animals, they felt a forest child in her and never touched her. When the teeth of the trap released Sigma’s paw, she put on a bandage and scratched the wolf behind the ear soothingly.
That’s it, now you need rest. - She said.
I’ll give you a couple of dressings with me and an ointment, you need to change it when the bleeding stops.
Thanks. - The stranger thanked Orlita. - And how did you get here? Why do you live with people and not with relatives?
“Let’s go back to the fire, on the way I will tell you and help you bring Sigma carefully,” the herbalist suggested.
She finished the story already sitting by the fire, finishing her fragrant herbal tea (she collected herbs for it right in the clearing).
You know, - the stranger said thoughtfully, - But I was then in these parts and probably saw your parents, they were walking towards Mount Kofur, it seemed to me they were running from something or from someone. I accidentally ran into them on the path and they got scared, but quickly realized that I was not their enemy and continued on their way.
Truth? You… you… - Orlita could not find the words, but she knew exactly what she would do.
I will follow in their footsteps, I need to know the whole story from beginning to end. She stood up and grabbed her purse.
You helped me much more than I helped you, but I never asked … what is your name?
Robin. The hooded man replied.
Thank you Robin, I’ve got to go. - Orlita approached Sigma and stroked him goodbye. - Get well soon.
“And yes,” she turned to Robin, “tell Violet I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
Orlita got up and quickly walked towards the mountains.
Orlita had already been walking towards the mountains along the forest paths for quite some time. On the way, she came across the same flower, for which she went to the forest - the Queen of the Night. She already wanted to collect it, yet it is the rarest ingredient that could be found once a year and only now she realized that the flower basket and the pruner that lay in it were left far behind. Pixies surrounded a large white flower of the Queen of the Night, whose fragrance was so sweet that it made her dizzy. They looked at him in fascination and sang softly in thin voices. Orlita had seen it a few times, but it was still magical every time. Usually she cut off a flower, put it in a basket and the little fairies flew around her while she returned home, after which, disappointed and offended, they flew back to the forest. This time I’ll have to leave them their wonderful flower. The sweet aroma of the Queen of the Night whetted the appetite and made me want to eat. She had only 2 apples with her, she took out one and continued on her way and ate an apple. Orlita began to think that her impulse to run faster in search of traces of her parents was too emotional. After all, she was not going on a long journey and there were no supplies. She had already reached the foot of the mountain when she was about to turn back to get home and be well prepared for the journey. But then she saw a small fire. The second one that night, she thought. This time she did not become cautious and resolutely headed for the clearing. In front of the fire, the magician sat facing her, she recognized him. This one is the one that was chasing the deer along with the one-eyed archer.
- Good night, can I join? Orlita asked.
Orlita rejoiced at the good weather and the fact that she was in a good team. This made her task of finding answers much easier, and spending time on the road listening to the stories of adventurers was much more interesting than traveling alone. Now she had interesting interlocutors, food and protection, in general, everything that is so necessary on long trips. Although she still resented how they wanted to deal with that orc, he was already helpless, but they still wanted to kill him. She did not take part in battles and did not yet have time to “taste the taste of blood”, she did not kill in order to survive herself, she only treated wounded or sick people and animals and helped alleviate the suffering of the dying.
There were many plants in the mountains that did not grow in the forest, and therefore almost every plant on the way was a “rare ingredient” for her, which she did not forget to tell her companions about. They willingly listened to her and, of course, almost immediately forgot her stories. So they went until the evening and stopped for the night. Somewhere nearby the sound of a small waterfall was heard and Orlita said to her companions - I want to freshen up a little, I’ll be back soon.
Following the sound of water, she soon really came to a very small waterfall, which flowed into a small lake from which water flowed in streams down the mountain slope. On the other side of the lake there was some kind of building, but judging by the appearance it was abandoned for a long time and some details were not very clearly visible at dusk. Orlita undressed, quickly bathed, and already leaving the water, when wringing out her hair, she saw a flicker on the other side of the lake. It was like a silver mist that had taken on the shape of a human or something like a human. Orlita became afraid, almost for the first time in her life, she quickly dressed and ran to the clearing to her companions. “There,” she began to speak, a little out of breath, inconsistently, “There is some kind of building and something that looks like a ghost.
Thero and Ambro looked at her incredulously. Maybe you thought? Thero asked.
- No, it didn’t! - Orlita was offended that they did not believe her. “Don’t forget that I’m an elf and I can see quite well at dusk, at least a little better than humans.”
- Ok, - Ambro soothingly took her still trembling hand, - do you want us to check it out?
“I don’t know,” Orlita said. Maybe you shouldn’t go there?
- Wait! - Orlita hurried after Ambro. - I’ll go with you. Thero stood unsure whether to follow them or stay and wait for them. Finally he decided - I will go with you, friends! Although my arrows cannot harm the ghosts, I will cover you if the orcs appear. The monastery was very ancient, no one remembers when and by whom it was built. Not even those who kept his old secret remained alive. Once upon a time, the robbers decided to profit from the treasures that were stored in the dungeon of the castle. They did not know if this was true, but it was rumored that there were countless rare items and gold that the monks had been collecting for centuries. The monastery was built here not by chance, in this place there was a point of concentration of magical powers. The monks have always used magic, and in this place their magic practically did not require the expenditure of strength, quickly replenished and was more powerful than in an ordinary place. When the robbers attacked, they did it quietly and took the monks by surprise. Under the cover of night, they managed to cut them all out before they had time to come to their senses. The monks were relaxed and did not expect an attack, having lived a peaceful life for many years. The last monk, dying, whispered a curse, it flew from his lips with his last breath, and so he became a guardian. He was reborn as a ghost and since he could not physically harm them, he terrified them, causing their fears from the very depths of the subconscious. Some experienced such fear that their hearts stopped, the rest fled in panic, and the ghost of the monk remained and had been guarding his monastery for many, many years.
- So the three adventurers approached the monastery. Orlita was nervous, she did not want to go there, but not to leave her friends. As they circled the lake and approached the yellow-brick walls of the monastery, which were already almost completely covered with thick moss, a ghostly figure floated out to meet them. “Stop…” a rustling voice sounded. Goosebumps ran down the backs of friends. They mechanically nevertheless took a few steps forward and then they were seized by horror. Each of them saw their own fears. Orlita saw how from all sides the plants that she loved so much threateningly reached out to her, trying to wrap around her arms and legs, strangle, squeeze so as to break all her bones. She tried to brush them off, but realizing that the forces were unequal, she began to persuade them and suddenly … they obeyed, they stopped threatening her, stopped and she felt that now their mood had changed, they were drawn to her, because they recognized her as their own.
There was no threat in their movements, she extended her hand towards them, and the stem of the plant gently fell into her. Like a handshake that builds trust. Orlita tried to force the creeping vine to change direction and obediently moved in the direction indicated by the elf. Horror was replaced by delight. She looked at her friends who continued to struggle with their fears. Ambro’s eyes burned bright blue, he was tense and focused, and Thero, he got into a fighting stance and repeated everything … - I’ll prove it to you …
The three adventurers who recently became friends went through a test of fear that brought them closer. Cautiously they approached the massive doors of the monastery. The wood from which the doors were made darkened with dust and cracked a little from time. On the doors are large gilded rings with an unfamiliar and partially worn ornament. Ambro tugged gently on the ring, and the door creaked open. Orlita and Tero followed him into a dark corridor, the end of which was lost in shadow. The floor, which had not been trodden for many years, was covered with a thick layer of dust. Ambro created a small shimmering blue ball that emits light. By the wall of the corridor lay a skeleton in a monastic cassock, at the sight of which everyone became agitated.
“It must be the skeleton of the one who greeted us so inhospitably,” Tero said, meaning the ghost.
Moving on, they ended up in a large dining room, where skeletons in monastic robes also lay, apparently taken by surprise during dinner. On a long table stood dishes that, upon closer examination, turned out to be silver. The food on the plates had long since turned to dust, but there were a few sealed bottles of wine. They were also covered in dust and it was impossible to make out what was written on the labels. Friends have not touched anything yet, limited themselves to inspection. Going further, they got into another corridor with many doors, these were the bedrooms of the monks who lived in the monastery. At the end of the corridor was a staircase to the second floor. It was necessary to climb it very carefully, the steps creaked and cracked underfoot. After a brief discussion, Tero went ahead as he was the heaviest of the three. Where he passes, others may pass.
The steps stopped, and all three saw a small corridor with a large door, which turned out to be a huge library. Thousands of books and scrolls stood on shelves and lay on round tables. Everything was covered with dust, but Ambro could not resist and grabbed the first scroll from the table, raising clouds of dust in the process. Everyone began to sneeze together. When the dust had settled and the fit of sneezing had passed, Ambro unrolled the scroll.
- “This is a real treasure!” he said with a sigh. - Friends, we have found a priceless treasure. I mean not only this scroll, but all of this,” he said, pointing to the library.
Orlita stood not far from Ambro, who was impatiently unrolling one scroll after another. He eagerly read them and seemed not to notice anything around him. Tero walked along the shelves, inspecting them carefully. Orlita also wanted to take a closer look at the library. She followed Tero along dusty shelves and rows of books and scrolls, many of which looked very old. Maybe I’ll find records of my ancestors or distant relatives here, Orlita thought. She walked and peered at the dusty headlines, periodically running her finger over some of the spines to read the heading in full and not miss anything. So after walking a few rows, she found the history section. “The Age of the Titans,” Orlita read, dusting off a large red-brown book. There were books in a row that contained the whole story from the very first creature, which was called Reigmor.
Friends had to make a lot of efforts to take at least part of the books with them, the ghost of a monk constantly got in their way when they tried to take something out of the monastery. In the end, they managed to convince him that this knowledge would not harm anyone and, on the contrary, would only be used for good. If books and scrolls continue to lie in the library, time will leave only paper dust from them and the work of many centuries will be useless. Orlita and Ambro chose their knowledge, and Tero found books on weapons, which he was very impressed with. So he also took some books with him. They took quite a bit, but it turned out to be quite a heavy burden. It was clear that walking into the city, dragging all this behind him, would be too tiring. After consulting with friends, Tero went to the city to borrow a cart with a horse from a shopkeeper he knew.
While Tero was away, Orlita immersed herself in tales of her ancestors, the Wood Elves. Sitting by the fire, she seemed to be in the time when the elves first appeared. Orlita imagined their cities, which were drawn on the pages of the book, heard children’s laughter, conversations of the elven nobility. The author of this book clearly lived among her ancestors and managed to convey everything so vividly that it was worth closing her eyes and imagination painted scenes from the life of the forest elves in their beautiful city.
Tero returned just as the sun began to rise over the forest. The friends loaded the books and scrolls into the cart and then returned to the library to take more with them. Having covered the prey with a piece of cloth, they set off on their way back. The horse walked in front, and Ambro and Orlita walked on the sides of the cart. Orlita, who had not slept all night, was carried away by reading, fell asleep, lulled by the steady rocking of the cart and the clatter of horse hooves.
After a few hours, they left the forest and came to a small village on the edge of the forest. A wide road led from the village to Rendarion. It was the village of the Nirwoods, where Violet had almost come to terms with the fact that Orlita would never return. A large shiny fly landed on Orlita’s cheek and crawled up to her nose. Orlita began to wave her hand away and, half asleep, almost fell off the cart, which finally woke her up. Looking around, she recognized the place. - Stop! - she screamed at Tero. The wagon stopped. Ambro woke up too, awakened by Orlita’s cry. Friends, it’s time for me to go home. Violet probably can’t find a place for herself. - Orlita said guiltily, only now realizing that she had not warned anyone when she ran away on emotions in the hope of finding her parents. - Ambro, can you hide our prey in a safe place? Ambro nodded his head. The friends conferred and agreed to meet at the Thousand Stories Tavern in three days. This should have been enough time to complete each of their business and discuss plans for the future at the meeting. Orlita really wanted to know as much as possible about her ancestors, this was to help her in her search for her parents. She understood that she needed to carefully prepare and then there would be much more chances.
Saying goodbye to her friends, she quickly walked towards the village, but with each step, the weight of guilt slowed her pace. She had already imagined Violet’s hurt, her look. And the worst thing is that Violet will be right, Orlita should not have acted so recklessly with her. She did not yet know that all the villagers were looking for her. If Orlita had known about this, she would probably never have been able to return, unable to look each of them in the eye. Somehow it so happened that no one met her on the way to the house. She carefully opened the door with her hand and peered into the hut. Violet was sitting with her back to the door by the burning fireplace, on her knees was a deep cup in which she was stirring something. Her hair seemed even whiter than before. “Hi”, - Orlita said softly. Violet stood up abruptly and the cup flew from her lap to the floor, the contents spilling across the floor. She clasped her hands and rushed to Orlita and hugged her tightly without saying a word, Orlita also hugged Violet.