Elian watched the girl from the trees. Mera’s reins were grasped in his left hand and in his right he held the longbow he had used earlier. The small group had been in need of aid and he had provided, like a silent protector.
The girl had her legs huddled close to her chest as she gazed out over the flowing waters of the river. She sat just on the bank, her toes breaking the clear surface. She seemed lost in her own world, oblivious to the world around her.
Elian tugged on Mera’s reins and led her out of the trees. The girl started at the heavy plodding of the horses hooves. Her eyes, the irises as white as the moon, studied him with a piercing gaze. Elian held her gaze, not to be intimidated. He led Mera to the riverbank where she immediately began to drink. Elian hunkered down, placed his longbow on the ground and stared into the depths. He could feel the girl’s eyes on him, analysing him. Her eyes fell to his bow.
“It was you....” she whispered. “You helped us when the mercenaries attacked. You were the one in the trees”.
“You needed help, so I provided it”.
She remained silent a moment, watching him again.
“Well... thanks. You are right, it was needed. We were outnumbered”.
Elian nodded and finally took his eyes from the water.
“May I have your name?” she asked. “I wish to know the name of he who aided us”.
Elian considered her for a while before answering.
“Elian. My name is Elian, I am an Elf. My horse is called Mera”.
“Well Elian, my name is Aria, Aria Kahner. I’ve never met an Elf before”.
“Not many have. My race has become... secluded over time... withdrawing from the world of man to an extent”.
“So why are you out in the open?”
Again, he was silent a while before answering.
“I was exiled a long time ago. So long ago I can no longer remember why. A short time after my exile I suffered memory loss, so even if I wanted to go back I can’t. I don’t know where my city is”.
“Oh... I’m sorry”.
He shook his head.
“There’s no need to be. I don’t miss what I don’t remember”.
Elian turned his head back to the water again and began searching its depths. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Aria shift uncomfortably. He was used to that. His silence often unnerved people. Mera, finished with her drinking came around and lay down between them. Elian ran a hand through her mane. He saw Aria move to do the same, then retract her hand, unsure if he would consider it rude no doubt.
“Go ahead, she won’t bite, nor will I”. Aria smiled and moved her hand along the horses neck. “So, Miss Kahner-“
“Call me Aria”.
“Aria, how did you come to be under attack by mercenaries of the Koles?”
“I-I’m not quite ready to talk about that yet”.
“I understand, it took me nearly five hundred years to talk about my exile and memory loss to anyone”.
“Five hundred years?” Aria exclaimed.
“Yes five hundred. I am four thousand five hundred years old, around middle age for an elf”.
“I didn’t think anyone lived so long”.
Elian nodded. He rose then, picked his bow off the ground and tugged Mera to her feet. Aria rose too.
“Why don’t you travel with us?” she asked. “We could use the extra protection”.
Elian considered, gazing at the girl before him. He reflected on the other members of the group he had observed earlier after their battle. Finally he nodded.
“I will join you if your companions will have me. I feel life will be much more interesting if I travel with you, considering you are already trailed by mercenaries”.
With that, Aria led Elian back towards their camp.