As the exhausted elf lay on the makeshift bed I had forged, in an involuntary slumber, I gathered together what I could to treat him. From my rose-leaf bag I withdrew a small box of crushed berries and a small bronze spoon. I added a few spoonfuls of dew to make the potion easier to swallow, before gently tilting his head back. His mouth opened naturally, and I poured a small amount of the mixture down his throat. I took a small cloth and soaked it in the remaining dew, before gently patting down his face to cool him down. I noticed a long scar, like an elongated leaf, running down from his forehead to his cheekbone, and shivered, not daring to imagine how he had received his injury. His skin was dark, like parched soil, and his bronze-coloured hair clung to his neck like a snake. The fire flickered nearby, crackling comfortingly, casting an orange glow over the stranger. At his belt; a few steel blades and a mysterious sword. Examining it by the fire's glow, I noticed symbols carved into the blade, in an unfamiliar script. I knelt and placed my ear to his chest and, recording his steady heartbeat, realised I recognised the material from which his breastplate was made. Dragon-hide. I shivered; Sunelya would not be pleased. I hoped inwardly that the dragon had died a natural death. Silent and scarred, the elf was mysterious, his mere countenance begging unspoken questions.
I looked beyond the fire to see Elowyn caring for the stranger's hawk. Faeth kept the elf's head aloft while Meredyth scoured through the elf's memories to discover more about him. Presently, Elowyn spoke;
"His hawk seems a little better now. She is obviously comfortable with bierdo." Looking to the elf's steel blades, I wondered whether he had forged them himself. They reflected the image of the starry Skye towards me.
"Are you retiring to the domes soon? We prepare to leave tomorrow." Elowyn continued.
"I understand, Elowyn. I just do not think it would be good for our maliay to wake alone."
"Suit yourself, Aven." Elowyn sighed, standing up, taking the hawk with her to rest as she lay down beside Sunelya, still majestic as she slept, resting after bringing her precious, breathing cargo safely to earth. The female hawk perched on Sunelya's back and fell asleep.
I gently moved my hand over the stranger's body, closing my eyes as his orlis became traceable. Suddenly, I felt it fading beneath me, and I panicked.
"Elowyn, fraesa! Moritca!" In my terror I was unable to speak in any human language. Elowyn rushed to his side, clasping her hands over his chest to feel the life flame in each of the instruments which built up the orchestra of life.
"His life-fire is flickering. He needs to be warm. Paie Laetha." I gasped as her hands burst into flame.
"You'll hurt him! Be careful, please!" I said hurridly, my emerald eyes wide with fear.
"He is wearing dragon-hide, it will resist the physical flame. I am restoring his life-fire." Elowyn replied calmly. I held his wrist, feeling his orlis meander its way through his veins, bringing life to his life instruments. The inward orchestra played. She had saved him.
"Laetisha, Elowyn." I breathed.
Suddenly, Meredyth's ivory eyes became normal, and Faeth lowered the elf's head. Meredyth spoke, shaken.
"There was blood. Too much blood. Too much suffering." She took a deep breath before she continued. "His name is Darl. The hawk is called Carla. Darl was looking for us when he lost consciousness." Darl. The elf seemed more familiar to us now he had a name. As the others left him resting, retiring to bed, I sat by Darl and whispered.
"Open your eyes. Open your eyes. Please." I became overcome with emotion as he remained unresponsive. Tears coursed their way down my cheeks. "There is too much blood," I told him, "there is too much suffering." I began to slip beneath the surface of conciousness, my magic worn thin and my emotional control worn thinner still. As I drowned in fatigue, I moaned helplessly. "Stay away from me, Darkness, stay away. I am tired." I fell into a helpless, unstoppable slumber on the woodland floor.