* * *
"So, you will
come with me?"
They went off that
night, Eileen trusting to the stranger's senses. It was very dark
and her human eyes could not see through the blackness. She had to
rely on hearing and touch--the next best human senses--and trust.
Trust, she thought
to herself. Trust in a person I know nothing about? Why
was I so eager to go with him tonight? Was it because of the fight
I had with my brother? An owl hooted in the distance. That
would have been a foolish reason. Despite the dark, she turned
her head to look around her, trying to see what she heard and did not hear,
glancing at the houses as she and her companion passed secretly by, trying
not to wish herself back in hers. It is too late now anyway to
go back. Whatever comes from now on will come. She gripped
the cold hand. If my lot is to be murdered before daybreak, then
so be it. Despite the rumors about her companion, she almost
did not believe that she would never wake up to the light of day.
They pressed on, the
darkness concealing them as they went through the town. Eventually,
they ended up in a forest at the edge of the town, where it was even darker
than inside the town.
"I cannot see," Eileen
complained, though she could not see when they first started off.
"It is all right now
to have some light; we are away from the town." A light came up;
Shanadar used his magic to cast a soft, illuminating glow around the pair
so Eileen could see. "This place is safe, but we will have to move
on before we rest; we are still too close to the town."
Eileen had not even
thought about resting. The excitement brought on by running away
from home made her forget about how tired she would normally be at this
time of night. However, she kept quiet, though she was grateful for
the little amount of light that made her surroundings more visible.
They trudged on, coming
at last to the bank of a small stream.
"We can bed down here
tonight," Shanadar said at last.
"Are you sure?" Eileen
asked, finally speaking, challenging her companion's decision. She
did not feel there was anything wrong with it; however, she wanted to be
sure--not only about the spot, but also about her companion.
Shanadar looked around
himself, as though the question sparked some uncertainty within him.
But he responded, "Yes, this place will be fine; it is safe."
Eileen took out a blanket
she had brought with her and lay it on the ground. She sat down on
it and looked up at the mage, who remained standing.
"Won't you sit down?"
"You can sleep," he
said. "I will keep watch." He sat down near her, his back against
"All night? Why
don't you wake me up halfway through the night so I can keep watch and
you can sleep?"
"If there's any danger,
I can just wake you up and we can get away."
Just rest--do not worry about me, I will be all right."
Eileen was still too
apprehensive to push this person too far, so she just gave up. She
rolled herself up in the blanket and tried to let herself sleep.
Shanadar, seeing that
he won the argument, resigned himself to guard duty. He extinguished
his magical light and wrapped his cloak about himself. Propped up
by the tree, he sat resting with his eyes half-open, his senses alert for
any sign of danger.
The elf was silent,
and for a while Eileen forgot he was there. But her subconscious
would not let her forget that he was there, so close, and so full of presumed
evil. She eventually fell asleep once her body was relaxed and she
had forgotten about her mysterious companion. But once asleep, he
emerged in her mind, large and ominous--all but forgotten.
"Who are you to tell
me what I should and should not do?" his voice boomed in her mind, his
image hovering over her.
She was silent; she
could sat nothing--she had no power to say anything. His power was
"You wretched human,"
he growled angrily, then swung his hand towards her.
Eileen started awake
just as the image struck her. Fear caused her to turn cold and she
could feel her heart pounding muffledly in her chest. It was early
morning--still dark, but with a faint light that made things a little easier
to see. She noticed that, but she was too afraid to look at anything.
She lay her head back down, attempting to calm herself, when her eyes darted
and she caught a glimpse of him. He appeared unthreatening as he
sat propped up by the tree, covered by his cloak, his chin against his
chest, his eyes closed. Somehow, he didn't seem as frightening as
he did in the dream. Eileen closed her eyes and after a while, fell
The dreams that came
this time weren't as nightmarish as the last. When she awoke, she
remembered the touch of softness and the image of a boy running around
in a field. It was a peaceful dream, and loving--yet there was something
tragic about it. All Eileen could remember was the feeling of sadness
and the image and touch of happiness. She did not think much of it--she
was merely glad that the dream was a pleasant change from the first she
had that night.
When she awoke, full
daylight was upon her and her companion, who appeared to be awake now as
well, with his chin on his knees, looking out at the forest around them.
Shanadar did not appear
as pleasant as he did when he was at rest with his eyes closed; in fact,
his eyes had a rather harsh look in them as though he was brooding over
something. But one thing loomed large in Eileen's mind, and she could
not shake off the significance of it: She was still alive.
She looked over at
her stern-looking companion. "You did not kill me," she said softly.
He looked back over
at her, his expression softening. "I do not kill innocents," he said
"You consider me an
"I do not consider
you guilty of getting in my way." He turned his attention back to
A pause. "Why
did you abduct me?"
He did not look at
her. "I did not abduct you; you came of your own free will."
She dared to come closer
and sit beside him, like a curious child wishing to learn more from a grumpy
elder. "Why are you so mean?" she finally asked.
"I am only mean when
I have to be."
"Are you worried about
He crossed his legs
and looked down at them, his expression almost sad. "No," he said
Suddenly he glared
at her. "You have the audacity to challenge my credibility?"
She tried to be firm
and not let him scare her, although reality seemed a little too much like
a recent dream right now, and she did not want to get hit. "I can
tell things about people just by looking at them, and you look worried,"
she said defensively. "Now, maybe I'm just reading you wrong.
What are you feeling right now?"
stood up. "Absolutely nothing."
She stood up with him.
"You can't tell me you have no feelings."
He turned toward her
and looked at her hard. "What would it matter if I did? I'm
just a filthy crossbreed, anyway."
Suddenly it struck
Eileen, and somehow it hurt more than an actual blow. She did not
know...She knew that he was different from her kind, that he was not human--but
she did not know that he was more than one race, which was worse than being
one race amongst a group of another race. She knew what intermarriage
meant with her kind--that it just wasn't done--and that Shanadar probably
had no community he belonged to because no one would consider him one of
their own, because of that little bit of blood that was mixed in there
before he was even born.
But Eileen, unlike
many of her kind, was not ready to cast stones at someone just because
he was "different." She had already attached herself to him, going
with him even though she knew he was not human. She would just be
his friend, anyway; it wasn't like they were going to get married and have
children--which would have been a disgrace. He would just be a friend,
someone to go on the journey with; then they would go their separate ways
once they reached their destinations with no hard feelings between them.
It was an idealized
future, for Eileen did not even know where she was going. She knew
what she was getting away from, but her companion seemed to have a better
idea of where they were going--wherever that was.
Anyway, for the moment,
the companion still had to be reckoned with, and hard feelings were usually
not easy to soften, especially with one as touchy as Shanadar.
"Talk to me about it,"
He turned away from
her. "There is nothing to talk about."
She threw her arms
up in dismay. "Is this any way to start a relationship?"
She couldn't see him
laughing at her. "Why don't you go back home, then?"
She looked around;
it seemed like an awfully long way to walk. "Well, maybe after I
eat. I'm hungry."
* * *