How It Began
And here I am. I sit here and wonder why I am going to do this. Why should I finally now tell the truth when the lies have sufficed so far? Maybe it's because I've been slipping back into the past more and more lately. It seems that almost everything causes some unpleasant memory to surface. The fire in the inne suddenly brings me back to the fire in the woods where the real trouble started. That seemingly harmless kitten that followed me around gave me chills each time I saw it. It looked so much like my old kitten. Identical. Is it just a coincidence that this little cat should look the same as the one that lured me into the darkness? That it should find me now when I thought I had finally escaped the madness and draw me back? Draw me back like it drew me to that fire, that large fire in the woods. Coincidence? I think not. I've been through far too much and seen life too fully to think that things happen by coincidence anymore. Coincidence? Bah...that's a word used only by the ignorant.
I suppose I should start at the beginning, that being the usual place to start when telling a story. I was about seven when I stumbled into the clearing in the woods. It was nearing dark and I was fetching water for my mother from the small creek behind our house. We had just finish eating and it was my chore to get water and wash the dishes after supper. I was tromping through the brush on my way to the creek with a child's endless energy, when I heard a little mew. I loved cats and played with my friend's cats all the time so I knew a kitten's mew when I heard one.
Quickly I had forgotten the water and started looking around for the kitten. Another mew was heard. It was coming from a little way left of the path, near the woods. Quietly I crept towards the source of the mew, not wanting to scare it away, and soon enough I saw the little black and white kitten, standing beside an alder tree. Surprisingly instead of running away from me when it saw me it walked right to me and rubbed against my ankles. Smiling I picked it up and stroked its little head.
"Aww, you're a cute kitty you are. Are you all alone? Poor little kitty." I sat down and leaned against the trunk of the alder. As I pet the kitten, which was purring it's little head off, I remembered a rhyme my mother had taught me a few days ago.
'Mother, may I go out to swim?'
'Yes my darling daughter.
Hang your clothes on an alder limb,
and don't go near the water.'
“You see Kitty, alder trees are a charm which protect little children from evil faeries like the Peg Powler," I spoke with an air of importance, being quite proud that I knew the faery lore that was told to children at those times, "The Peg Powler is a mean, green water hag with long matted hair and sharp teeth. She likes to grab little children's ankles and pull them under the water." I looked down at the kitten that was looking up at me, "You know, I think I'll call you Peg."
I smiled and kissed Peg's head. I had already claimed her as mine and now I wanted to take her home and tell my parents that we had a new pet. But, as I was about to get up Peg jumped out of my lap and ran into the woods. Having just found a new pet I wasn't about to let it get away from me that easily so I ran after her swiftly, following her as she ran deeper and deeper into the woods. I jumped over fallen logs and ducked under low branches. I had almost caught up with her when she scrambled under a hedge of thorns.
It still hadn't occurred to me that it was now dark out and I was deep in the forest. As I peered under the brambles, looking for my lost kitty, I realized that there was firelight coming from the other side. Also there was the sound of chanting and low, rhythmic beating of drums. I crept along the thick hedge till I found a hole where I could see into the clearing.
The clearing was rather small and was surrounded by thick thorn bushes except for a small opening, in which I now sat. A large bonfire burned in the middle. Several torches were placed around the inner sides or the hedge. In a circle around the fire kneeled about twenty men in long, black cloaks. From them came the chanting. Two other men were sitting a little back from the rest of the men and were playing the drums in a low, steady beat. Suddenly I saw Peg run into the circle, but, though she had been a kitten when she first entered the ring, she was now a woman, tall, and dressed in the same black robes as the other men.
The chanting and drums had stopped and all looked towards the woman. She then turned in my direction and walked to me. I was terrified, too terrified to move, so when she stood before me I just looked up at her, frozen and wide-eyed. A soft, almost bitter laugh came from her and she picked me up as if I were nothing and carried me into the circle. She stood me on a small platform, mainly just a flattened log that wasn't even a foot off of the ground. She stood on my right side and faced the crowd of men which had assembled before us.
I stood there, shaking with fear. Everything was silent. The silence drew on as the men looked at me with a reverent look then back to, as I had supposed, their leader. Then, when I felt I could stand the silence no longer, she spoke.
"Brethren, listen to me. I said I would find the chosen One," She motioned towards me slightly with a quick gesture of her hand, "I have chosen." She spoke with utmost authority and her malicious glare, with which she looked at everyone with, dared them to question her.
I was thoroughly confused now. I had gotten over my initial fright that they were going to kill me and now I was actually quite curious about it all, especially about what they meant by ‘the chosen One’.
After the woman had finished speaking the men fell to their knees and began to chant low and swiftly. I had never heard this language before so I had no idea what they were saying. About a year later, after I had learned most of the main chants, I finally knew what they had said that night. Here is the part of the chant that I have remembered:
A Él, Alcarinquë, A Aranelanamo
Colindo a Apanónar vanwa...
O Star, The Glorious, O Princess of Doom
Bearer of Mortal Men's death...
When the chanting had gone on for a few minutes the dark-robed lady raised her left hand for silence once again. They stopped chanting at once. She then placed her hand on my shoulder, which had an immediate calming effect, and spoke to the crowd.
"This girl's name is Ambar, Doom, for she shall be the doom of her enemies. She shall become one of us and help lead us to our destiny."
I wanted to speak out and say ‘No, that's not my name...I'm not going to be anyone's doom...’ but, before I could even begin to utter a word, the woman locked her eyes on mine, looked straight into them as if looking into me, into my mind, and said firmly, "Your name is Ambar." I was lost in the dark abyss that was her eyes. They were a brown so dark they were almost black and seemed to be able to reach into your very soul. All I could do was nod my head slightly in compliance.
And from then on, till many years later, I was known as Ambar Éldar, Doom of the People of the Star.
"I wanna go home..." the soft and slightly scared sounding whimper echoed ominously down the hallway of the old castle. The young child's eyes roved around the hallway then settled on the tall woman whom she clung to tenaciously.
Though it had been only hours since I had been drawn to the clearing it felt like many years had passed. All the chanting and and rituals that had gone on had scared me horribly and now the only thing that could give me a sense of security was, ironically, that which had brought be into it all.
Ah, Altáriel,Altáriel. That was her name. She was the leader of this group of the Éldar, and the only woman in the group that I had seen so far. She was a tall, beautiful woman, probably in her early twenties at the time. Her hair was a chestnut brown and her eyes a dark liquid brown. She had a few freckles on the ridge of her nose and cheekbones which she had acquired from a childhood spent in the sun. She had a slight natural tan and her voice was a smooth, deep, commanding tone.
She looked down to me, patted my head, and in a reassuring voice
said,"But Dear, you are home. This is your true home and the only one you'll ever
need. Think of me as your mother, and of everyone else as your brothers. We are
all family and soon you shall really be one of us."
Before I could even reply to her we were moving swiftly down the hall, then through many other halls and rooms, up stairs, till we arrived in a large bedroom. Long draperies of deep crimson hung from the walls and were decorated with a fancy rune and a grand star above it in silver thread, symbolizing Él and the Éldar. In the middle of the room was a canopy bed, complete with silk crimson sheets and canopy. Antique chairs, dressers, and other furniture were placed decoratively around the room. My mouth hung agape. I had never seen such riches before and was suddenly aware that I did not fit in the room with my dirty play dress on. I looked up to Altáriel with wide eyes. She was looking down at me with a slight smile on her lips.
"Wow Altáriel, you have a pretty bedroom!"
At this comment she let out a soft laugh, "Aye, I do. But this isn't my bedroom, it's yours."
My eyes expanded to the size of plates as I looked around the room again. At my other home all I had had was a small, cramped room with a small bed, so I couldn't believe this was actually my bedroom.
Soon I had no worry to feel out of place in the rooms. I was washed, fed, and clothed in silk black pajamas. My hair, which was already long, was brushed and braided into a nice long plait of black down my back. After Altáriel had shown me where her room was in case I needed her and had assured me not to worry about a thing, I was tucked into bed and left in that big room.
Of The Éldar
It’s strange how one can so easily forget old ways and learn others. Forget everything and everyone once known. That was the case with me. It wasn’t hard learning to live in splendor instead of poverty. And, though I regret admitting it, I quickly got over my homesickness, that longing for those two people whom always seemed to keep me safe and bring comfort. Altáriel became those people to me. She was my parents, my sister, and my friend.
Years wore on. Eventually I forgot my parents and my old life and began to become part of this strange society I had been brought into. The Éldar were a large religious cult-like group which spanned over the small realm of Shithio. Small groups (Not really small, most groups sized between fifty to two hundred members) could be found almost anywhere, if one knew where to look.
The Éldar, meaning ‘People of the Star’ in the old Elven tongue, worshipped the Goddess Él. Él was the brightest star in the night sky over Shithio. The pale green of Her Light could almost illuminate the lands on a dark eve. She was the Goddess of the Stars and Night, Mother of the Divine Elves, and Protector of the Divine Humans. Sister to Elebreth* , the Moon, She ruled over all that Her Light shined upon.
It was said that only Divine Elves could communicate directly with Él^. And so the groups were lead by these Elven Women and followed by the Divine Humans who were mainly just Blessed Humans whom had dedicated themselves to Él. The group of head women then made together the Counsel. They often held secret rituals which not even the Divine Humans could witness, least they gain more power than a mere mortal could handle. Altáriel was the High Priestess of the Éldar, ranking even higher than all of the other woman.
I was a Chosen, a Divine Elf, but how I was when my mother was not I do not know. Perhaps Él made a mistake in me. No, I know She did. Rescued from a poor, yet happy life, I began to undergo training for being a priestess, training under the strongest of them all, Altáriel.
For ages and eons the Éldar and the Sol had been the deadliest of enemies. Many a brave follower’s life had been claimed in the fights. Even civilians were often caught in the crossfire of these two great powers.
Night and Day. Since the dawn of time they have strove against one another. Sometimes Sol would gain ground and the days would lengthen and the Sun would shine bright, but always Él would fight back and recover the lost ground, and the Night would cloak the lands.
And so, in a like-wise fashion, went the wars between the peoples. Little did either side know how drastically the scale would shift in just a few years, all because of one insignificant child.
*(Once Él and Elebreth were separate religions, but combined their power to make a stronger resistance against the Sol.)
^(Divine Elves were always female and were very few in numbers because only a Divine Elf could give birth to another Divine Elf, and that didn’t always mean the child would be Divine because the pregnancy also had to be blessed by Él Herself, or so it was said.)
Grown up now to an age of fifteen, I was well learned in the majicks and lore of the Éldar, also very well skilled at fighting. Often I would ride at the head of a band of our soldiers as we ravaged the towns which Sol had strongholds in. Lucky I was said to be. Never was I harmed by any arrow or sword or other weapon. My sword always struck true to the enemy and they fled before the pale skinned, black-haired child warrior whom fought with the deadly skill of a veteran of many bloody wars.
It was said I was indeed Ambar, doom to those I sought to kill. The Éldar praised my name and the Sol feared it. Soon it seemed as though the wars would be over, in our favor. Too soon they thought of victory. Little did they know that the lies they had served out with sweet words on forked tongues, had used to manipulate and control me, would soon be found out and destroyed.
It was told to me and perhaps others of the Éldar that the Sol were harsh, cruel beings whom found joy in the torture of innocents and the murder of children. They only wanted death and destruction, to cover the world with their burning fires like to Sol’s own.
So we called them enemies, we fought them to save this land of ours from their evils. They must be stopped.
It was night and I was leading a band of warriors to the edge of a small town. Earlier that day I had been informed by Altáriel that this quiet place was actually a refuge of the Sol. A town used for the storage of food and weapons. It was my job to make sure it was destroyed. We were to kill all we found there, for they were merely agents of Sol.
I gave the signal, and with quiet, stealthy movements we snuck into the sleeping town. Creeping into houses, myself and my men slew both man and woman before they could even wake from their sleep to scream. So skilled at this were we that, by the time only one house was left, no sound nor alarm had been rung.
I decided to take care of the last house. It was small and not very nice so surely not many people could be in there. Soundlessly I crept throughout the house, checking rooms for people. I found a bedroom with two sleeping people, one man and one woman. Grasping my dagger, the naked steel blade already stained crimson from blood, I slit the man’s throat and then the woman’s. Waken by pain they tried to scream, but only gurgles emerged from their severed necks. Leaving them to die I quickly checked the last room on the house for any others.
It was a small bedroom with a little bed in the corner. By the toys and dolls I gathered it was a child’s room. No child slept in the bed, and I could tell no one had for sometime. Dust, in fact, covered everything as though no one had been in here for years. My blood ran cold. Suddenly I knew this room. Memories of a lost childhood flamed through my mind. This was my room. My house. And those I had just slain, were my parents.
Keeping back tears which threatened to fall I quickly backed out of the room, closing the door. Then running, I left my house and yelled to my men whom had began to plunder the village.
“Out now! Let it all be! Back to camp, that’s an order!”
Confused, but not daring to disobey a command, they withdrew and we made quickly back to camp.
It had begun to sink in. There had been no signs of Sol in that town, and Altáriel had known.
“Altáriel!” I stormed into her tent, motioning for the guards to leave us be. “You knew that that town wasn’t of the Sol! You knew that didn’t you?”
She regarded my with those brown eyes, barely even looking up from the scroll she was reading. Red lips curled into a small smile upon her face. “It matters not. Did you still carry out my orders?”
Coldly I spat out, “So you knew, you sent us to kill those poor innocents. Why?”
“Dear,” she spoke with an uninterested tone, ignoring my question for the moment, “of what concern is it of yours if those happened to not be Sol members? Surely, you agree that even if a mistake was made they will be going to Él’s Light and needn’t suffer anymore on this plane of life. When we kill one not of the Sol we are giving them a gift. The gift of death. Death, should be viewed as a present from Él Herself. In death one does not suffer nor feel pain. It is eternity and clam. Is that not what all want in the end?
“No! Life is the gift. Life is beauty. Life is something to be treasured and not taken for granted nor taken away cruelly. Death is the End, Life is the beginning.” Already cold tears had begun to form in my eyes and splash down my cheeks in a glitter.
“So you’d rather someone work hard all their lives to keep from starving. Mourn away their chances for happiness. Toil and hurt in this so-called gift you call Life.?” Something in the way she said that, something in the cold glare of her eyes and the hint in her voice told me she spoke of my parents. She had known that too. Had she actually sent me there, knowing I’d kill them? One question ravaged my mind: ‘If so, then why?’.
Slowly the mere anger stole from my face as the harsh truth hit me, causing my eyes to flash in a reddish fury. Quietly I spoke, anger threatening to cause me to scream and sorrow threatening to crack my words. “You...knew...”
She stood up from her chair and placed her hands on the desk, the scroll she was reading now tossed, discarded to the side. “Knew what? I know a great deal of things which you’ll never have the mind to know. But,” a small glint of fury filled her normally calm eyes, showing she was really quite mad and annoyed, yet was taking pleasure from seeing me so distressed, “if you mean did I know that you’d kill your parents, that I did know. Indeed, that was the reason you were sent. Before one can completely dedicate oneself to Él you must completely break all ties to everything else. I saved you the trouble of having to seek for them yourself. You should be thanking me.” She held up her hand to silence the words she knew were about to spout themselves from my mouth. “Don’t put your anger and the blame on me Ambar, for it was your choice after all. You gave the greatest gift you could for those unfortunates so you should be happy and rejoicing, not angered as you are. You have the potential to be a very powerful priestess.”
Those words fell deaf upon my ears, my anger growing into rage. “You will regret this Altáriel. Because of you my parents are dead. You only used me as a weapon against your little enemies and I will not let this happen anymore.”
“Oh? Is that so? You are mine and I will not let you go. Accept that. Now be a good girl and go to your tents. I will send for you when I feel that you’ve gotten over you trivial anger and insolence.”
“I’ll leave, but not to my tents. I’m leaving the Éldar. I curse the name of them and Él Herself. May Her Light fade into the eternal fires of Sol.” I spat upon the floor at Altáriel.
Her eyes narrowed at me in anger, her face flushed with rage. Never had I seen her so mad. I was honestly afraid. “Blasphemer! Traitor! Insulter of The Goddess!” Quickly she strode to me and grabbed my neck, her long fingers gripping me tightly. “You are a worm, a slug, and deserve to be sent to the Eternal Darkness, far forever from Her warm Light. The penalty for Treason is Death, but not the gift. You’ll be sent to the plane of Pain and Horrors. You’ve been tried and found guilty.”
I struggled against her tightening grip without much luck. I could not breath and had started to become dizzy. Black spots disrupted my fading vision. Vaguely, as though from a far away place I heard her say: ‘Now Die’.
It was luck, or perchance lack of luck, that saved me. I still had that dagger, stained with my parents’ and other innocents’ blood. It had been tucked inside my coat and then, with my last remaining effort of will, I drew and plunged it deep into the belly of my tormentor. At once her grip on my neck loosened and my feet touched the floor, but still I didn’t remove the dagger. Her eyes had gone wide with shock, a groan issuing from her throat. Deeper in I shoved the dagger, then with a grunt twisted it harshly. With a quick movement I tore the dagger back from her, causing her to fall down.
Even in her death she wouldn’t give me the satisfaction of suffering. The shock on her face had left and turned into a calm, nearly sneering look. She closed those brown eyes and and waited for herself to die as she knew she would, whether from that wound or any others I might inflict upon her.
“Damn you...” I wanted to watch her die painfully, make her hurt, she knew that too and so denied me of it. Another wave of rage swept through me. I wouldn't let her win. “Altáriel, now you die.” Another flash of my dagger as I struck her chest, piercing her heart. And then she screamed. A scream unbidden, and then she died.
Alas, that scream I so lovingly heard brought also the guards to the tent. Rushing in to find the cause of the scream they found me, kneeling beside Altáriel, my hand still gripping the dagger in her chest. A grim laugh came from me as I yanked the dagger out and stood up slowly, pulling myself into my full height, already taller than most of the men. They had stopped, unsure at first of what to do put then they drew their weapons and pointed them at me, the killer of their leader.
My quarrel hadn’t been with the other members of the Éldar, but my anger was still burning within me and I wouldn’t be killed. So I leapt at them, only three in number where they. Most would think that when a child with only a dagger tries to kill three full grown men each with a large sword that the child would have no chance, but I wasn't just any child. Ducking and jumping I dodged their swings and instead cut them. By the time only one man was left others were gathering to the tent.
All sanity might have left me by then, but I still wasn’t stupid. One could not stand very long against a hundred. So I made my retreat, escape to the woods in which no man could compete with the skill of an elf. Killing those who tried to stop me on my way I reached the safety of the trees and disappeared into the shadows.
I knew that all, ALL, of the Éldar would soon be out for my blood. If I had been of more reasonable a mind I would have left the realm of Shithio at once, but I wasn’t thinking rationally. If they were gonna try to kill me I’d just kill them first. All of them. Every last one till Él will have no followers and Her Light would then fade.
I stayed high up in the trees for the rest of the day, the leaves keeping me safe from view. Often I heard them below me, trying to be silent, but humans never were good at that. Now I, I could walk high up in the trees along the branches making no sound whatsoever. On the ground I was nothing more than a slight shadow flitting along the ground.
After nightfall I snuck back into camp, avoiding the guards. To my tent I went, empty, and quickly gathered such things as I would need. A pack, food, clothes, and of course my two-handed bastard sword. The pack and sword both on my back, I struck throughout the tents where the soldiers were sleeping and slit their throats with the dagger I still had. The soundless shadow of death I was that night and for many others. When those I hadn’t killed awoke and the others came in from watch they were mortified and furious to find so many of their companions dead.
Years and years I spent, traveling from camp to camp of the Éldar, killing all as I went. Often I’d kill their children and wives too, so no one would be left to try to kill me. The groups began to scatter, to become rare.
Time was nothing to me. Often I would spend weeks just tracking down one nameless person to kill. That is how I came into the dark realm of Rhy’Din, the crossroads of all other realms, home to all species.
Little was known to me of Rhy’Din, so I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. A member of the Éldar, fleeing from me, had taken refuge in one of the many many taverns, bars, inns, and pubs that make up most of Rhy’Din. It wasn't hard thought to find him and kill him. I had tired of chasing for the moment so decided I to take a break from work and try some ale from this region.
I came for the ale and stayed for the life. Rhy’Din has strange effects on people, as it did to me. I forgot, or lost all care, of my mission to destroy the Éldar and instead I wished to stay here and live a ‘normal’ life. I made friends and lost friends. Opened taverns and watched them burn down. I even had a pad of paper and a pen with which, on a slow, rainy eve in the back of my newest tavern ‘The Staggering Lion Tavern’, I began to write this tale of my past.
Word Count: 4937