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Tirin Desgjin had everything she wanted, but it took her being kidnapped to see it. The romance she dreamed about, the acclaim most worked all their lives to achieve, the belonging she's always wanted and the magykal talent that she thought would bring it all to her.
The usual rites of adulthood for Tirin's twentieth birthday brings about more than her uncommon magykal ability, it exposes a secret long buried. A secret that forces a cursed elf to face his nightmares, a prince to face his deamons and a father to face his past. Will she survive all the revelations?
A work in progress
The waning night was lit by a full moon wrapped in feathery clouds. The only light she had to illuminate the thin path before her. It was finally spring. Chill bumps rose over her earth-brown skin as a soft breeze whirled about her. Her name was TirinDesgjin and for almost seven years she has made this trek in secret.
She kept to the shadows as she left the safety of the Elven city of Ao'lean. Following the path made in secret. A path created by her over the years, through the hidden crack in the forbidding, gray walls that surrounded the city.
As the clouds gave her brief cover, she quickly made her way across the clearing and into the Forest of Guardians. Trying to keep in the scant shadows, hiding from the guards that patrolled the top of the wall.
The forest was made up of ancient trees that encompassed and have guarded Ao'lean for generations with magyk beyond even the elder Elder's understanding.
Tirin made her way northeast, across a field that softly dipped into a vale of spider willows. She carefully moved along the path through the squat, dark trees. Hugging her arms against herself within her cloak to make sure she didn’t brush up against any of their oozing thorns. The trees only grew three to four feet tall before they spread their prickled branches along the ground like long, vile spider’s legs. She had to be careful as their hidden roots would pop up randomly to trip the unwary trespassers just for fun. She had heard they were poisonous, but knew they weren’t. She knew first hand they simply caused a hellish rash.
She continued along the path just beyond the vale and crossed at the shallows of the River Green. Silently heading northeast where she would eventually enter Ebon's woods.
Tirin paused for a moment, hearing something that didn’t belong. She stood still as she listened for the sound again. Nothing.
Tirin took a deep breath before continuing forward into Ebon’s woods. Here the pines were like none anywhere else. Their slender trunks were the color of the blackest ink and their leaves were like new silver fresh from the smelter. The story was that a woodsman called Ebon Tryln was killed here almost a hundred years ago. Days after his blood had soaked into the ground where he fell, the trees changed in mourning. A story that was hard to swallow, but no one was ever able to explain why the pines here were so drastically different from others.
After she made her way through Ebon’s woods a large open field stood between her and a forest even older than the one that protected the Elven city.
Oldmagyk filled the air here where Tirin's trek would come to an end. A fog would coalesce about her before she made it halfway across the field. Fingers of cool moisture touched where-ever there was exposed skin, as if searching. The fog never waned; it actually thickened when anyone got close to the old forest. The ground itself was alive, it convulsed and moved as it saw fit to deter entry. The trees were monstrous, most were large enough to be converted into homes. Much like the one she was using as her workshop now.
Wonderlost was the name of this forest, once home to a hermit sorcerer. His secrets were hidden away in this forest of mystery, at least until Tirin happened across what was left of his partially mummified corpse and his well-preserved compendium several years back.
Trailing behind Tirin was a large wolf-like animal. Wolf-like as it was almost three times larger that the wolves of this region. He quietly watched as Tirin prepared to enter Wonderlost. Camouflaged by his dark fur and shadows, the wolf listened to the strange words she chanted, strange words he knew by heart now after the many times he had trailed her here. The wolf retreated back a few feet as his body slowly began to change. The pouch he held in his mouth dropped to the ground as his form went from four legs to two. His face receded with the snapping sound of shifting bones and ligaments, all while his size and mass shrank. Fur gave way to skin the color of goldenrod and the wild raven -black mane of the animal curled and neatened somewhat. In the matter of moments a male elf stood where the monstrous wolf had been. Tyrus Raylok quickly hid behind a bush. He removed his clothes from the pouch made up of his cloak and dressed while he watched Tirin command the area to heed her. He could feel the ground tremble before it stilled.
Tyrus observed, still in awe after all this time, when the fog dispersed before her. Tirin entered the forest unmolested, the will of this place bending only to her. He had made the attempt to follow her once. Once was all he needed to know that Wonderlost would not allow harm to its new master.
Tyrus remained hidden on the other side of the field, well within the cover of Ebon’s woods. He watched semi-relieved as his charge vanished within the ancient forest. SomehowTirin had gained control of the magyk that warped this place. Regardless of the racial restrictions, magyk had found its way into her life. Humans were known for their ability to create weapons of great destruction, to invent grand mechanical monstrosities to aid in the building or demolishing of cities. Magyk was not a strong point with them, it was something they often shunned.
Tyrus had never thought to questionTirin about her midnight trips despite this, feeling it unnecessary. Despite the scary stories of her kind’s reputation with magyk, he felt she could handle it. Having grown up with her, he wouldn’t blame her for being vengeful. She had more than a right to become a cruel mage. But Tirin wasn’t ruined by her past, their past. All he knew was that she seemed happier when she left in the mornings. That was all that mattered to him. He stared at the thick fog for a moment more before heading over to his usual hiding place as he waited for Tirin to finish whatever secret business she had here.
He knew thatmagyk was in her blood. BaelorDesgjin, her adopted father, had mentioned that her mother had been a Blight witch. He could only hope that Tirin had her mother's willpower and mental strength.
Time passed as he became lost in thought. Night time faded intoearly morning and the night bird calls were replaced with the sun songs of the starlings. Tyrus looked up at the brightening sky. He knew Tirin's life had been hard since being brought here when she was just a baby. Having her mother die so soon after her birth and then having to grow up the only human in an Elven society. Baelor was an Elf of high status, but he couldn't protect his daughter from the ridicule she endured growing up. To Tyrus' knowledge, Tirin hadn't told her father about any of her troubles over the years with his people. He honestly couldn’t believe that the once highly revered and feared Imperial High Guard didn’t already know.
Originally, Tyrus had been one ofTirin's childhood tormentors. He and a few others went out of their way to make sure Tirin knew she was not wanted. She had been thirteen when fate had taken a turn for the both of them. Drastically changing the dynamics of their relationship. Tyrus found himself becoming enamored.
As the sun finally began its ascent over the horizon. The diurnal fauna began to awaken. Tyrus started to loosen his cloak as the morning warmed. Hismemories though, now whirling about in his head anew, caused a chill to go through him. What had happened to Tirin seven years ago still disturbed him. He closed his violet eyes as the memory forced him to relive it.
Seven years ago...
It was early afternoon and the city of Ao'lean was alive with springtime activities. Everyone seemed to be in high spirits as the sun gently warmed the day. Everyone that is, except Tyrus, who strode brusquely away from his home.
The young elf paused, he turned to glare back at his mother as she frowned down at him from an upstairs window.
How could she say those things to him knowing how his opinions mirrored those of most of her friends as well?BaelorDesgjin was a fool for adopting a Human. Most of Ao'lean thought the old elf a fool for returning at all. He had allowed himself to be turned into a slave for years by Humans and then came back here, mutilated and carrying one of their whelps.
Tyrus unclasped the fasteners of his tunic as he gradually warmed up. He pulled his shirt out of his trousers, no longer caring about his appearance. The sound of his boots against the cobblestone was heavy atfirst, but lightened as his thoughts deepened. His mother knew nothing. To reprimand him for teasing the Human girl, telling him to think about his actions. Tyrus scoffed at his mother’s words. “… treat her as you would want to be treated.” She was Human! What did it matter how he treated her? Her Father didn’t seem to have a clue to what his ‘daughter’ was going through.
Tyrus paused,BaelorDesgjin was a very observant man, he doubted that Tirin was able to hide her everyday experiences from him.
Tyrus combed his raven curls back, his haughty attitude softening. Despite the difference in blood,Tirin had a lot in common with her father. For one, their stubbornness and determination to be or do what was necessary. Tirin was an exemplary student regardless of the prejudices some of the teachers held for her. She had won the respect of many who would rather spit on her than look at her. And regardless of what was done to her she seldom gave a reaction. Her anger was something rarely seen, but when it surfaced she was almost scary. If it wasn’t for her tiny stature her anger might be taken seriously one day.
He reached a shaded spot beneath a flowering dogwood and sat down on a well-worn bench. The small commons was pleasantly quiet and isolated; it was the usual spot he and those he associated with met after school was done. Today was a holiday and he was alone, but he didn’t mind.
Maybe what his mother was trying to tell him wasn’t such a bad idea. The only problem was those he called friends wouldn’t see it that way. Tyrus regarded his mother highly and to make her unhappy never sat well with him. Nevertheless,DarecShiey was the son of the High Lord and what Darec thought meant a lot as well. Being friends with the sole heir to a large domain was great for raising one’s social status. And in Ao'lean, status was everything.
Tyrus rubbed his temples and looked up in time to spot the Young Lord creeping his way along the great wall that encompassed the whole of the city. He watched asDarec kept deep in the shadows, looking as if he was stalking something…or someone. Tyrus moved his line of sight a few meters ahead of the Young Lord to spot Tirin making her way toward a concealed corner. She was apparently oblivious to Darec’s presence as she continued toward a rather over growntalak bush. Tyrus got up slowly and moved carefully toward them, his curiosity aroused. He watched as Darec shortened the distance between himself and Tirin. Slowly Darec removed two items from his pocket. A white cloth and a smaller object obscured by his hand. After doing something to the cloth Darec disregarded his stealthy approach and ran at Tirin.
Tyrus moved faster as he watchedDarec place the cloth across Tirin’s face. Tyrus’ throat tightened as he watched her struggle wildly against Darec for a minute before going limp in his arms. Fear filled Tyrus and forced him to run across the commons toward the Young Lord. Darec and the unconscious Tirin disappeared behind the talak bush before Tyrus was able to get enough breath to yell after them. He paused only a second to retrieve the dropped cloth as he reached the bush. The scent was pungent and familiar, enough that Tyrus didn’t need to bring it close. It had the same smell as the sleeping drought used on the High Lord’s pampered dog, Tiya, in her last hours before putting her out of her misery. Alarm filled Tyrus and he moved closer to the bush and easily found the large crack that was their apparent exit.
For a moment Tyrus couldn’t move. What wasDarec thinking? Tyrus looked at the large crack in the supposed impenetrable great wall of Ao'lean. Eying the thin, foot worn trail, he figured Tirin had been the sole user of this path to escape her life within the walls of Ao’lean. He swallowed dryly and carefully made his way through the short tunnel. He exited out to face the clearing, just barely catching Darec disappearing into the Forest of Guardians directly across. He quickly followed after, barely finding the path again. Tyrus’ concern turned to fear, as Darec was nowhere to be found.
The thirty minutes that had passed felt more like eons as Tyrus made his way through the woods. Fingers of fear digging deeper and deeper into him as there was no sign ofDarec’s passing anywhere.
Then he heard it.
It was a soft moaning alternating with rhythmic breathing. Slow at first yet gaining speed. Tyrus moved quietly toward the noises, his heart in his throat. He didn’t want to admit that he knew what was going on and tried to block the truth with other possibilities for the noises he was hearing. He finally made it to the small clearing and froze. Hate, fear, disgust and other feelings filled him as his heart dropped to his feet.
A small ways ahead of him he spotted the Young Lord. Darec’s shirt was undone and his trousers were gone as he rocked back and forth on top of the still unconscious and now nearly naked Tirin.
“No.” It was to have been louder but Tyrus’ voice couldn’t seem to find the conviction. Tyrus bolted from the bushes to slam intoDarec sending the Young Lord sprawling.
“What The Hell Are You Doing?” He yelled asDarec jumped to his feet alarmed and embarrassed. Tyrus removed his tunic and covered Tirin with it while Darec redressed quickly and calmed himself. He actually smiled before retrieving his clothing.
“Tyrus,”Darec smoothed the wrinkles and bits of leaves and twigs from his clothing. “You followed me?” The Young Lord raised a brow, “Did you want to do--!”
Tyrus watched a little confused at first whenDarec’s head snapped to one side. He then realized that he had just hit Darec.
Darec remained on all four in shock and pain. Fear filled the Young Lord as he had never been hit before, by anyone. The sensation it sent through him was more than unpleasant yet strangely exciting.
“Do Not Dare!” Tyrus bellowed. “What is wrong with you?”
“Calm down, Tyrus,”Darec remained on his knees shocked at his supposed friend’s reaction, “It’s not as bad as it—.”
“Do you know what you are saying?” Tyrus backed off. “You drugged, then raped her!”
“Tyrus don’t get so worked up. She’s Human, no one will care,”Darec started to smile again and pulled back sharply as Tyrus reached for him. The glare held in those violet eyes showed utter disgust.
The last thing Tyrus wanted to do was find himself agreeing with his mother’s words, but there was no way around it. Tyrus’ mother had said that there was something wrong withDarec and Tyrus had actually stood up for him. To say that he was disappointed would have been an understatement. To have witnessed the act in progress made it so much worse than admitting that his mother had been right. Regardless of how he felt toward Tirin, the thought of doing something like this was inconceivable.
Tyrus raised his fist again, unable to think of anything else to do and watched asDarec’s amber eyes grew wide with panic.
Tyrus’ arm stopped inches fromDarec’s face and both boys looked at each other in alarm as the breathing of a third was heard. Tyrus watched as Darec peered around him. His throat moved nervously as he swallowed his blatant fear. He knew something unseen was restraining Tyrus.
“You’re not supposed to be able to…!”Darec whined before being sent flying away from Tyrus.
Tyrus watched as the Young Lord went crashing into a tree and then crumpled to the ground. He wanted to turn and face whoever was doingthis, but couldn’t move a muscle. All he could do was watch as Darec raised his head, his brown hair falling away to reveal a cut on his forehead.
“How? How could you do this to me?”Tirin screamed from behind Tyrus. Whatever was holding Tyrus released him for a moment only to push him out of the way before being pinned to the ground. Tyrus watched, in frightened awe, as the small human girl moved forward. Her brown skin gave off a soft bluish glow. “I have done nothing to you to be treated like this!” She screamed, the glow brightened sharply and her dark eyes flashed.
“Tuh-Tirin…Tirin, stop,” Tyrus called from his prone position, his concern begrudgingly going from her to the Young Lord as the air picked up around them. Leaves from the past winter rose from the ground and whirled about the three of them violently.
Tirin hugged Tyrus’ tunic about her. “I know you hate me for what I am, but to do this…” her voice trailed off as she clasped her hands over her face and screeched. “You deserve to suffer! To suffer so painfully!”
“Tirin--!” Darec started only to yell out in pain as something took hold of him and wrenched him from the ground.
Tyrus could only watch paralyzed, as something seemed to be crushingDarec. “Tirin, do not do this!”
She glared at him, “And you still want to protect him?” She asked amazed. “Regardless of how you feel about me, I do not deserve this!”
“No,Tirin, you are right, you do not deserve to be treated like this. No one should be treated that way…but for you to take his life you will be destroying three in the process.”
“I don’t care,” She growled.
“You won’t be able to continue to live in this place you have called home for thirteen years. SireBaelor will be devastated…he...he will not have his daughter anymore, not the one he raised.”
Tirin’s glare softened some.
“High LordShiey will have lost his only heir and only son, the last reminder of his deceased wife—.”
Her glared intensified, “I care nothing for the High Lord’s wife or brat!” The wind picked up violently andDarec screamed in intense pain.
“Tirin!” Tyrus yelled
Tirin ignored him, her voice now audibly chanting words he would never comprehend. She was casting spells she shouldn’t know and Darec was going to be their very first victim. The whirling wind suddenly began taking on a ghostly form. A translucent serpentine form that made Tirin hesitate. Tyrus becomes even more concerned as it was apparent that something was wrong. He watched the serpent grow while it whipped about its conjurer then circled Darec who screamed despite himself before he passed out.
Tirin faltered back as the dragon circled Darec once more and then headed for her.
“Oh no, I forgot!” she turned to run and disappeared in a whirlwind of leaves as the dragon encircled her. She screamed as if she was being murdered.
Darec dropped from the air and whatever force that had Tyrus pinned to the ground was no more. Tyrus found it surprising that as soon as he was free he was up and running for Tirin.
Everything became silent after the smallmagykal tempest dispersed. Tirin was laid out on the ground unmoving, unaware of what was around her. Disgust filled him anew for Darec as he saw the bruises flowering on Tirin’s face and arms. He turned to face the Young Lord, an insult ready, but the heir to Ao'lean was nowhere to be found. The brat prince had escaped without his knowing. He took only a moment to decide whether or not to chase after the Young Lord and decided to tend to Tirin first.
"Tirin?" Tyrus called before making his way over to her. He put his hand on her shoulder and the first thing through his head was what he was going to tell Sire Baelor. Was she dead? He swallowed fearfully.
Tyrus put his fingers beneath her nose, but he was shaking too much to tell if she was breathing or not. He gently put his head against her chest and tried to listen for herheart beat over the thudding of his own. He closed his eyes in relief when her chest rose and fell and pulled back quickly when she whimpered. Before he could move out of her way she shoved him onto his backside with a cry of pain. Her hands went to her stomach as she doubled over. He watched in horrified amazement when her stomach grew larger and larger, almost as if she was going through the phases of pregnancy in a matter of moments. Her cries of pain becoming louder and louder and all he could do was sit there and watch till her stomach stopped increasing in size. Whatever she had tried to do to Darec was the cause of this but he couldn’t leave her like this. His mother being a midwife, Tyrus remembered a few things his mother did to make the mother-to-be more relaxed. He quickly ripped a bit of his under shirt and wrapped it about a stick before gently putting it to her mouth. “Bite down,” He whispered in her ear as he propped her up on his legs.
“What’s ….happening?” she groaned around the stick between waves of pain that racked her body in close intervals. Tyrus swallowed as he held her hands.
“It seems that you are about to give birth…”
Everything had seemed so surreal then. Tyrus knew even then thatDarec had seen him as only a lackey, but he had hoped it would become more. Whatever the Young Lord said to do, Tyrus and the others would do without question. A lot of it had to do with tormenting the little human girl. Darec seemed to hate her most for reasons only he could understand. No one questioned why or seemed to care much, except for Tyrus’ mother.
Briefly Tyrus was blinded by the morning sun as it peeked through the trees while coloring the sky beautiful shades of rose and lavender.
Tyrus sighed as he remembered carrying her back home and then sneaking into the garden at the back of her house. He had left her there, not sure what to do. That day could never be forgotten, but inTirin’scase it had been. Somehow, after that whole ordeal, Tirin acted as if none of it had ever happened.
He looked up in time to seeTirin emerge from the fog of Wonderlost, her business in there now done. Once Tirin had passed his hiding place in Ebon’s Woods, Tyrus stretched and proceeded to follow her home; the memory quickly put away.
Tyrus followedTirin back through Ebon’s Woods and then it was back across the River Green. He watched her pause momentarily as she bent to retrieve yet another stone to add to her growing collection of river smoothed quartz. As they made their way toward Spider Vale, Tirin stumbled and gave off a small scream when she stepped wrong onto loose gravel.
The scream made Tyrus think about his nightmare. It had started four years ago, sporadically occurring until a week ago. Now it was every night. Tyrus looked toward the east. The miserable willows of Noir Swamps more than several miles away yet clearly visible to his sharp eyes. Home of the Witch Bayne, the woman who changed his life forever in one night due to a faileddare given to him by Darec.
Tyrus looked from the swamps in the distance to see thatTirin had gotten to her feet and was almost through the vale. She would be safe once she entered the Forest of Guardians. His secret assistance was no longer necessary.
Like so many times before, Tyrus reluctantly made his way toward the swamps to confront the witch or attempt to. He could never make himself enter the swamp once he reached it. It had taken him a long time to get up the nerve to even make it as far as he had. If it wasn’t for the fear that his nightmares could come true, he would never go anywhere near the swamps. But the nightmares were growing worse every day. Vivid and violent and now showing him attackingTirin.
He raised her head to kiss her properly,Tirin doesn’t refuse him, in fact she welcomed him. Tyrus’ happiness is short lived when she suddenly pulled away from him. He grabbed at her hands only to jerk back when he saw they were covered with long black fur. He watched in horror as his transformation spread from his hands to the rest of his body. He looked up to see Tirin had distanced herself away from him before he fell to all fours. The thing he feared most became a reality, as he no longer had control over himself. A feral growl escaped him and the distance between him and Tirin shortened. He could smell her fear when she screamed and it only enraged him more. He jumped on her and brought her down quickly. He screamed silently to himself to stop before being blinded by a sudden spray of crimson.
A violent shiver shotthough his body as the fear of that happening was renewed. The signs were all here that it could. For six years he had been cursed to uncontrollably change from elf to monstrous wolf. He could never hurt Tirin, not of his own free will. Not with the way he felt for her, not with what she’s done for him. But the nightmare made things glaringly apparent. All this time he had kept a restraint on his emotions believing them to be the trigger to his transformation. And for a long time the transformations became less frequent. But in the last year that had changed. He had noticed that his Elven features were becoming more lupine. There were aspects of his alter form that had gradually become permanent. He allowed his hair to grow long and wild to hide the noticeable changed shape of his eyes, ears, and his face, the ebon claws instead of fingernails, the enlarged canines, and the augmenting of his senses. He feared with all these gradual changes that one-day when his curse took over he would lose himself entirely. So he decided he needed to talk with the Witch, plead with her to raise her curse. To forgive him for a childish prank that he had been punished for long enough.
The thought of confronting her ate hungrily at his scrounged up courage. The very first time he had visited Noir Swamps was to do adare for Darec. After the incident with Tirin, word of his ‘betrayal’ left him friendless and miserable. In order to get back into Darec’s good graces. He was to retrieve an item from the witch’s hovel as proof of his visit. Tyrus couldn’t deny the desire to have everything go back to the way it was, but the dare only succeeded in making Tyrus see that Darec was not worth it.
Since the nightmares began, Tyrus had visited the edge of Noir Swamp a dozen times but had never been able to set foot into its darkness. His lacking courage was the problem he kept having with his repeated attempts to revisit the witch. Witch Bayne cursed him for intruding on her privacy; she wanted no company, no intruders. The old woman may not even remember him after all this time and if she did she may see his visit as another intrusion and curse him with something worse.Tyrus sighed and slowly started for the swamps for the thirteenth time.