“Wake up! Adam?”
My eyes fluttered open as I woke from my painful slumber. I looked around. We were right by the Síeth River, and Gwendolyn had just dropped a pile of wood onto the ground. I sat up, and pain tore through me as I did, making me wish that I hadn’t moved in the first place. I looked at the firewood before me. Then, waving my hands over it, I spoke the word for fire. “Breïnir,” I said. There was a bright spark, and then I fell backwards, gasping for air.
“Are you okay?!” she asked, running over and kneeling next to me. “Rule one: know your limitations. If you use up too much energy and do too many spells, you could die. You’re poisoned! Why would you try that kind of thing? Even the simplest spell could kill you!” Gwendolyn turned away as I recovered and grabbed two rocks. She began rubbing and clacking them together until she made a brightly lit fire. Then, she pushed small bits of sand over the fire to mask the smoke that would flutter up from the bright flames. “I don’t want to send up a red flag telling Seniphos’s army where we are,” she said, not elaborating.
“I’m tired,” I said. “I only slept for what? An hour?”
“Two,” she said. “You should eat. I’ll find food.” The pain that was raging through my body was unbearable, and I had lost all feeling in my right leg, left arm and shoulder. I couldn’t move my leg, and when moved, my arm shot screaming pain through me.
I’m going to die, I thought. I am going to die!
Gwendolyn closed her eyes, and a felt something wash over me. “What are you doing?” I asked. She did not answer. Instead, she stood, and limped over in the other direction, and stopped about fifty meters off. Then, she produced a silver dagger from her thin pants and stabbed at the ground. She returned with a face as solemn as if she’d just been mourning, holding two lizards.
“What did you do?”
“I extended my consciousness to find a desert animal,” she said.
“I am an elf,” she said. “We cherish all living things. We do not kill animals.”
“Would you rather die?” I asked. She said, in a lighter mood, impaling the lizards on a stick, then looked away. When she looked back she resumed her work.
When the lizards had been cooked and skinned, she handed on to me. “Eat up.”
“This looks gross! I’m supposed to eat this?”
“If you want to live any longer, then yes,” she said. I took it and examined it. Then, I bit into the roasted piece of meat, cringing as he chewed the gruesome food and plugging my nose while I swallowed it so that I didn’t have to taste it anymore. I gagged as I felt the lump of lizard meat slide down my throat.
“This is disgusting!” I exclaimed.
“If you don’t eat, then you will die,” she said.
“Why aren’t you eating it, then?” I asked, swallowing another piece.
“I am an elf,” I said. “I can’t eat a living creature knowing that in once lived as well! Animals are humans in different shapes and forms. I would not eat a human, so why should I eat an animal?” I pondered her point for a moment, and before I knew it, I had finished the lizard meat. I looked at her as she stared at me with her bright, emerald coloured eyes, and then spoke again. “It’s alright, you’re only human. I’ve heard the thoughts of an animal, seen what it has seen. I’ve been in their place. Inadequacy of understanding can only be foreseen on your part. You will soon learn that elves live differently than humans do. Now, we should head towards Ál’vain.” She pointed ahead to what seemed like a small village that we hadn’t seen before. Smoke smoldered and billowed up in thick clouds from the village.
“There’s a village in the middle of the desert?”
“The Nomads built a village here because they were scared of my people, the elves, for we were very protective about our residences. Intrusions were not taken lightly back then. The Nomads were killed off when they would enter our homes to try to steal or do whatever else they do. They can’t do magic, so you don’t need to worry. Just don’t stare at them for too long. They’ll get upset with you for it. We’re just going there for the night, and then we’ll start running again. It should only take about an hour to get there. And it’ll be easy to get in, because there are no gates.” She poured sand over the flames until the flames dimmed to embers, and then she stomped out the embers. She kicked the firewood away, covered up the whole place where the campfire had been with sand, and then scooped me up into her arms. “Ready?”
“Not really,” I said, and she began to run towards the village that lied ahead of our path.