Once, in a town of Achten Tan, a child lived in peril and faced struggles that could break the toughest being.
Nothing could have prepared her for the horror she was about to encounter. Life was kind to her in her original birthplace Satama, where she lived a life of comfort. Born from pure Elven blood, she was raised with pride by her parents who wished to know nothing of life outside their pure race, nor speak of it to their child. However, this didn't mean they weren't aware of what happened beyond their walls. They knew the threats of tainting their blood. They feared the sermons of their priest. They were afraid of conflict and lived according to how their society dictated.
However, something inside the girl's parents stirred them from time to time. They constantly asked themselves questions: why did some elves choose to live an impure life? What is actually wrong with other race's blood? They knew of others who asked the same questions were sanctioned for their actions.
One evening, a fate none could escape took place. The ground rumbled and awakened its dwellers. The earth split and rose beneath their feet as if something was moving underground. The Svaalti family never knew of such fear. They feared more for their child than their own lives.
They took their daughter and ran. Several other children were left abandoned on the streets. The girl held on tighter to her mother. As she started to slip from her mother's grip, she was carried and wrapped inside her mother's robe as tight as could be, for the fear she would share the same fate as the other children they saw along their way. The girl's father disappeared, separated from them by the crowd.
The mother decided to go to their chieftain's place hoping she could provide help. The girl saw the tar rise from the cracks of the earth. Some of her neighbors were engulfed.
At a distance, a head of a creature she'd never imagined could have existed emerged. It looked as if was growing taller and taller like a tower coming out from the ground as it got closer.
She heard loud rumblings that drowned the screams, the cries, and the names being called. Her kinsfolk tumbled and stamped on each other as they ran for their lives. So many were lost beyond the little girl's comprehension. The girl screamed and passed out.
She woke up screaming. She was lying in a makeshift hammock made from her mother's robe. Her mother held her until she stopped. She sang her a lullaby while holding her tight. She whispered, 'we're safe now.' No longer was the girl's hair silky to touch. Her skin, full of dirt adhered by her sweat, and her clothes once pristine clean now soiled and torn.
Days passed but not the nightmare. The girl's mother, clever that she was, observed and looked for ways not only to survive but to thrive. After choosing to live quietly in Satama thinking this is the safest way to live, she realised they must prepare for the worst.
She instructed her child to mingle with the Achten Tan children and learn how they lived. The girl hesitated. She was afraid to see different races. Their skin was different, some had more hair, some were much, much bigger than the adult she grew up with, and some just smelled different.
The mother's heart broke for her child. However, she knew keeping her sheltered wouldn't be wise anymore. She told her the stories of gnomes, orcs, and humans. She told her of half-elves and other living creatures. Some are allies and some want to cause harm. 'Never be the one to cause harm,' mother said. 'And never let others harm you. This is why we have to learn. This is why we have to understand the way they live.' The girl was told not to tell the other Svaaltians as mixing with other races was against their norm.
Soon they were allowed to go around the town freely. As they did, they found that they weren't treated differently by the Achten Tanians. Children who collected bones played as they worked. They took the girl's hand and gave her a piece of bone. The mother was pleased that they were treated kindly. She felt a pang of guilt as she knew this wouldn't be the welcome they'd give in their old home-- not to outsiders, not to non-puritan.
That night the mother was left questioning the belief that she was taught. That their kind were the ones favoured by the Planter of the God Tree; that elven blood must remain pure to prevent the prophecy: a half-elf would reign the beastly serpents from the bowels of the underground and destroy all other beings that serves no purpose to her.
Surely, the destruction of Satama was the prophecy coming true. If this had come to pass, there was no need to isolate from other beings? If they were favoured by the Planter, why did the pure blood, loyal to its preaching were almost slain to annihilation? As they survived, did this mean they served a purpose?
The Scroll of the Elven Doctrine and Prophecies held the truth and must be retrieved. The answers were bound to be written in it.
The season turned and so did the reception from the locals. The death of their chief made them cautious. Fear reigned the land.
This made the mother feel more determined to find the truth. To clear their reputation and once again feel dignified. She made plans to visit the GodTree for guidance.
As they were constantly being watched, they weren't able to travel freely. However, the death of the Achten chief was a good distraction. Mother and daughter gathered as much moss as possible knowing that the girl would be left alone for some time. She was asked to be brave. She was told more stories about their past and why they were favoured. The mother promised more stories on her return and left.
Choosing to travel at dusk so she would go unnoticed, she was surprised to find there were several people traveling the same direction. As they arrived, she realised the purpose of their journey was to harvest some Godfruit. This made her uncomfortable as every part of the God Tree was sacred to them, but she chose to blend. The scroll was said to be etched on the root of the God Tree which revealed itself to whomever wished to learn from it. However, a prayer must be recited first.
Every Svaalti child was taught this prayer until the Svaalti priest forbade reciting it two generations ago. But not this family: the great grandmother wished to keep the tradition within their family. It was, however, observed in secret.
Other travelers couldn't resist sampling the fruit paste which sent them to a euphoric state. The Svaalti mother started reciting this prayer. As promised, the scroll was presented upon her, covered in what looked like a black sap. Once all the sap was absorbed back to earth, a rolled-up tree bark appeared.
She heard a whisper that instructed her to weave a cloak from the God Tree leaves using the paste from the wet earth and sap. She obeyed her instructions and said a prayer of gratitude.
She made her way in the dark. As an elf, she was able to endure any physical fetes and ran much quicker, unlike other beings.
It started to rain. As it got heavier, she realised it wasn't a normal rain. Screams were heard. She thought of her daughter all on her own.
The girl waited for her mother outside of their shelter under a narrow hollowed bone. The mother saw her in tears and afraid. She called her name, 'Pruna!'
The girl, Pruna, wanted to run to her mother but the poisonous rain caught her arm. It sizzled and blistered quickly. Her mother rushed to her aid, took her cloak off and wrapped it around Pruna, without realising its consequences. She started to melt in front of her child. They tried to return indoors but it was too late. The mother's white skin turned to red flesh. Pruna's mother took the scroll undamaged and handed it to her daughter. 'Find out the truth, read the scroll, I'm sorry, I love you…' her last words as she carried on melting in front of her beloved child.
Imelda Taylor was an English Tutor, play worker and science presenter before becoming a full-time mother. She's fond of creating, inventing and reinventing things that shape her daughter's imagination. Her ambition is to help support children and adults with literacy through her books. Several of her working titles includes: Princess Flo the Daydreamer and I'm not a Cheeky Monkey just to name a few. She lives in Letchworth Garden City in Hertfordshire England with her daughter, partner and her partner's parents.Follow her on Twitter @lostsheep2 and Instagram @lostsheep.is