The Looming Flames
Wood Elf, Male, Ranger (Falconer), Level 1, Chaotic Good
Hothwyn L’Arsinth always had an affinity for animals. Growing up in his wood elf community, he had always stood out among the youths as one of the most adept at working with the animals. So too had Lysarra Sondalev, his heart’s desire for as long as he could remember.
As the two aged, an inseparable bond grew between them. Their love for animals was only overshadowed by their love for each other. The bond grew so much in fact, that they would frequently share communion when the two were alone. This did not sit well with Galveth Tal’rakesh who also loved Lysarra, though that love was never shared.
Upon the eve of celebrating his ascension into adulthood, Lysarra took Hothwyn by the hand and led him away from the others, deep into the woods, to a hilltop with an unencumbered view of the starlit sky. There she formed with him the bond, the strongest link between two elves. Hotwyn could feel Lysarra’s emotions. Her wants, needs, desires, hopes, dreams, fears, all flooded into him.
The two shared a night of passion, though Lysarra was still several years away from her 110th name-day. They knew the elders would not approve, but did not care. Watching from the woods though, Galveth did care. Anger and jealousy overtook him and he devised a plan.
Galveth followed the two for the next few months until he knew the time was right. He knew that the night of the next council meeting that Lysarra’s parents would be occupied and the two would make their escape.
Not wanting to get caught, the two always left independently and took separate routes. But they always met at the same spot. Hothwyn always arrived an hour or so before Lysarra and Galveth knew this was his opportunity. Only, this night was different.
Before Hothwyn could make his departure, he was summoned before the council. They had discussed with him his duties as a new adult within the society, all things that he found boring and could care less about. He could only think of Lysarra.
When Hothwyn was excused from the meeting, started directly to the couple’s usual rendezvous point. He was taking less care than usual in avoiding the guards he knew were always watching the woods. He did not wish to keep Lysarra waiting all alone.
And for good reason. By the time he arrived, it was too late. A hill giant had Lysarra hoisted unconscious and over his shoulder, leaving the area. Several other hill giants were at its sides.
Galveth came into view shouting at Hothwyn, “This was never how it was supposed to be. Where have you been?”
Hothwyn did not understand what Galveth was talking about and did not care. He was already running after the giants. The giants noticed the pursuit right away and ran quickly away. Hothwyn was able to track the giants easily for some time, as their foot prints left huge divots in the soft ground. For almost a day and a half he followed the trail. Running when he could and walking when he could not. But, then, he reached the rocky terrain beneath a nearby mountain range. The trail made by the giants was no longer easy to follow, and then … it was gone.
After hours of searching, he heard shouting behind him. “Hothwyn,” a familiar voice called. He recognized that voice as his brother, Nikiath’s. “Hothwyn, you must leave this place and hurry. The Sondalev family blame’s you for Lysarra being taken and they are not far behind me.”
“I will explain all to them, I did not arrive until it was too late,” Hothwyn proclaimed.
“I am not sure you fully understand. Galveth returned to camp and told the story of how he saw you selling Lysarra to the giants. I know the truth about the two of you, I have always been the one on watch when you tried to ‘sneak’ out of camp for your little trysts, but Lysarrra’s father is Galveth’s mentor and he wholeheartedly believes ever word Galveth says. Hothwyn, he has sworn a bloodoath against you. Her father will stop at nothing until you are dead. You must go… NOW!”
Hothwyn did as his brother commanded. He started running and never looked back. For two years he travelled and thought back on what had happened. He blamed himself for what had happened. Not as much as he blamed Galveth, but his anger was still overshadowed by the longing for his lost love.
Hothwyn had never been one for using weapons, but never again would he stand by defenseless while someone he loved was carried away. He crafted a makeshift bow. He had seen his brother do it many times. It seemed easy enough. For months he practiced bending the wood, stinging the vines, shaping the arrows, and shooting, only to watch his efforts go sideways, up, down, or far short of his intended target. That is of course, if they didn’t break while still in his hands.
Slowly though, his abilities improved. His arrows flew straight now, though his bows were still nothing compared to those he had seen his brother craft and his brother was still a novice bowyer himself.
“Would you care for some help with that?” a voice called from behind him one day. He turned, but there was no one there. Elves were known for their stealth and cunning, but that voice was clearly not elven. He reached for his bow, but it was no longer there. He looked up and from behind a large oak tree stepped a human man.
Hothwyn had never seen a human, but knew the man as one instantly from the descriptions he had heard during his lessons. “My name is Yolen Leafstrider,” the man said in perfect Sylvan, but with a very strange accent.
Hothwyn wasn’t sure what to do. His natural instinct was to run, but a human who could sneak up on an elf in the middle of the woods had truly peaked his curiosity. “Hothwyn,” he introduces himself, although in a somewhat unfriendly tone.
“Well Hothwyn,” the man said, “I have been watching you out here for months now.”
“Months!” Hothwyn thought. “That is impossible.”
“I think I can help you with this,” the man said as he reached the bow toward Hothwyn.
Hothwyn jerked the bow from Yolen’s hand, “I don’t need help from any human! And why are you in these woods. These belong to The People.”
“Ah, but you see, these wood belong to no man, nor elf, nor any other being. They belong instead to all beings, and to the animals, the plants, the rocks, and all that you see around you.”
“What sort of nonsense is this ignorant human blathering about,” Hothwyn thought. “Let me make myself very clear human. I don’t want you near me, now go!”
“A ranger care for all beings in the forest, my friend, and that includes you,” the man said as he turned around and disappeared back into the trees.
For the next few months, Hothwyn looked out for the human. He could never hear the man moving, though sometimes the ranger let himself be seen by Hothwyn. Finally, one day, Hothwyn decided that he wanted to know more about the man and called out to him.
Over the next few years, Yolen taught Hothwyn some of what he knew. Their training sessions were sometimes short and there were often long breaks of several weeks when Yolen would disappear on “Ranger business,” but still, Hothwyn learned.
Hothwyn had told Yolen about what had happened the night that Lysarra was taken. Yolen showed Hothwyn how to track over rocky terrain, and many other terrains as well. Hothwyn told Yolen how he felt defenseless. Yolen showed him how to fight with a long and short sword. Hothwyn still couldn’t make a bow to save his life, but Yolen presented him with a finely crafted one to use as his own.
Yolen taught him the common tongue. He taught him what he knew of the forest. He taught him how to walk without being seen and how to move without being heard. He taught him what he knew of herbs and plants and animals.
One thing in particular Yolen taught him that he was very fond of was the art of falconry. There was a particular falcon that seemed to like Hothwyn very much. Hothwyn had started calling him, Ok’ralesh.
Yolen ever spoke a little of himself. He had grown up in a place called Waterdeep, where his family earned a living selling spices from distant lands. Yolen had a younger brother, Kaldar, with whom he was to inherit the family business, but through some sort of deceit, when Yolen’s father died, Yolen was cast out of their village. He found solace in the peace of nature and had been there for many years.
Too many years, perhaps. Yolen was very old. A good 30 years younger than Hothwyn, but that was very old for a human. Yolen had never made peace with his brother, but he still carried a letter that he had always meant to give to Kaldar, but could never find the nerve. Now he was dying. He asked Hothwyn to stay by his side until the end, which Hothwyn did.
Hothwyn buried Yolen’s body, as he knew was a human custom. He wasn’t sure what to do with the man’s weapons, so he kept them as his own. He truly felt that Yolen would want it that way. He would never call the man, “friend,” because no human could ever achieve such a rank, but still the ranger had been very kind to him. No human could be his friend, yet he still felt a compulsion to do something Yolen had never been able to bring himself to do. He picked up Yolen’s letter, determined that he would deliver it to Yolen’s brother. He didn’t know what the letter said. He never opened it. It wasn’t his business to read the letter, just deliver it. But why? He owed nothing to this man. Still it was something he wanted, no, something he needed to do. In his heart he knew it was the right thing to do.
So Hothwyn gathered his things and set out. “How will I ever find this village called Waterdeep?”
As for Lysarra, Hothwyn never felt the bond between the two of them break. She was not dead. Yet at the same time, he could no longer feel her emotions. It was if something was blocking the two of them from connecting. Maybe somewhere along his journey, he would find a clue as to what may have become of her.