Chapter Five: The Lady Ayana

“There are none fairer than the

Gaian Elves of Lenagard”

Tarnink, ambassador of Lenagard

A young woman with elven beauty walked along a narrow forest path. Her black and red streaked hair swept past her high cheekbones with a small wind. She froze at the sound of a snapped twig and sniffed the air. She caught the distinct scent of rohit-elafi along with the familiar trace of sulfur. The woman grabbed her bow as she peered out through her emerald eyes, the slit pupils narrowed when she spotted her prey. Her arched eyebrows curved in concentration. It was an older rohit-elafi and was not likely to survive the coming winter; she shot and hit her mark.

The woman approached the small red deer like creature and lifted it over her slender shoulders with great ease. The weight shifted on her shoulders. She moved a strand of her wavy hair away from her eyes as she slid down the path. The narrow path grew wider and large trees dotted it, spaced out in an interesting pattern. The air smelled of oak and the comforting scent of sulfur left the winds. This was the elven village of Mila and the homes were in those trees. She moved with stealth through the village.

It was not long before she approached the castle and the houses in the area over time became ground huts instead of tree houses. The castle itself was made with stone and mortar. It was not a large castle compared to mortal castles. It was modest like a giant German cottage with large oak doors and four large towers on each corner of the building.

“Greetings Lady Ayana,” said the first guard on the right of the doors.

He was not like the other elves. The others wore the brown leather armor of Lenagard. These guards were taller than she was and had a thicker build than most elves. Their armor was different too; it had a jagged spiked appearance that suited their names.

“Hello, Tsuke, Tuk, if you would could you open the door for me please,” The young elven woman replied.

“Certainly, Miss Ayana,” Tuk answered as he opened the left door.

Ayana entered through the castle doors and took the elafi toward the kitchen. Just as she entered the doorway a young elf boy with fiery red hair and snake like eyes just like hers appeared in front of her almost knocking her down. The boy was not much taller than a ten-year-old was and his skin was covered with light gray scales.

This was Prince Atron Reu; a half-dragon, half-fire elf was brought to the Gaian Elves by the wolves. Queen Esmir once she saw him had adopted him. He was her only heir as she had no male children of her own.

“Where are you going so hastily young prince,” She asked.

He looked up eager at the dead elafi as she cleaned the meat.

“To meet a friend of mine, it doesn’t matter though. BlackHeart is that for me?”  He replied.

“Do you know any other elves that eat meat around here?” she laughed.

“No, not really,” He answered, “but I do not understand why I am the only elf who eats meat.”

“I suppose, young prince, that your time with the wolves, and your ancestry might be the reason,” BlackHeart answered, “Do not worry it will not go to waste, for me and my sisters will eat it too.”

“I guess so; I know it will get eaten. Wait a moment, what do you mean ancestry? Are there other meat-eating elves?” He asked.

“No one has told you? Well it’s not something you should concern yourself with now, Prince Reu, when you are ready you will learn your identity.” BlackHeart answered.

“What? You know, don’t you? I sort of hoped you would tell me,” Prince Reu muttered, “Oh well see you later BlackHeart I got to meet with someone in the forest. I can’t keep him waiting any longer.”

“Do not wander out of the village Atron. I do not want to come after you, again.” She called after him as he ran back out of the kitchen and knocked over another royal chef.

Ayana sat down and continued to scrap the skin. She cleaned and skinned the rohit-elafi. Her hands worked over the meat at a steady pace. This kind of work kept her content, it made her forget the troubles outside the palace. She stripped the last of the meat off the skin and handed the skin to another chef.

“Give the skin to the royal tanner that he might make leather for our queen,” She commanded.

He nodded and took the skin with him into a back room. She then cut apart the different meat cuts and stored them with spices in mason jars. She took a steak, cut it into thick strips, and then fried the meat in oil with added vegetables.

None of the royal cooks knew how to hunt or cook meat like Ayana and her sisters. Only she had learned to hunt, and they were the only ones who ate meat. The Gaian elves preferred a vegetarian diet.

Hunting is the way of the dragon, thought Ayana. It is the sole purpose of a dragon, to hunt and defend. Her purpose was to hunt for two other dragons and a half-dragon and she defended them when they should defend themselves. She was weary of it and they were dragons after all. She needed freedom from Prince Reu most.

Atron was a stubborn boy. None of the elves could get through to him and she oversaw him. What would happen if she left him alone? Arajuan attempted to kill the boy once it was possible he could come after Mila when she left.

Ayana shuddered to think what could happen if Arajuan ever discovered Lenagard and the village. She had thought he was a myth until she heard the stories of the destruction he had caused to other villages. She had even seen the bodies of victims left half-dead. The marks he left on those he was ‘merciful’ toward were horrendous. Gashes of blue burns covered the last victim who came to the palace. The memory caused BlackHeart to shudder with momentary fear. She regained her composure and looked down at the food to stir it.

There was Master Tarnink. If anyone could take care of the place while she was away, it was her guardian. The problem with her solution was that Tarnink was never around. He was away on a scouting mission to check the status of other elf kingdoms in the war. It was Tarnink who informed Queen Esmir of the Fire Elf Kingdom’s fall. The capital city was burnt to a crisp few in the royal family survived and escaped. Another horror Arajuan performed. Atron was one of those survivors and was Arajuan’s target. She frowned.

Her sisters lived here too though, she thought. Why couldn’t Evalyn or Venus watch the boy for a while? Besides magic hid the entire kingdom, it’s not as if Arajuan’s army would attack the next day. It would take that monster some time to figure out how to break the spells Mika erected. If there was anything Ayana knew about monsters, it was that they always lacked intelligence.

Ayana let her mind settle on her thoughts. Yes, she decided, she would ask the queen to let her younger sisters keep watch while she went away, besides they were only a year younger than she is. They should help with the chores and she was tired of being cooped up. With that, Ayana took the food off the stove and flipped it one last time. Once the meal was plated, she looked for Atron.

Ayana left the castle and went straight to the creek that ran alongside it. She knew to look for Atron there as it was the boy’s favorite place to play. The prince was found by the creek where he played with a young fox. They had skipped rocks and chatted about a nearby Aldarian village drunkard. She could overhear him as he spoke the fox’s language. The fox responded with similar yips and snarls. Ayana smiled to herself, she understood their conversation, and had heard of the place the fox had asked Atron to go. Atron was a talented youngster, she thought, He possessed  the rare ability to communicate with animals at such a young age.

“Atron, time to come eat,” Ayana called to him as she approached the creek.

She was not worried about scaring the animal away. The fox was one of Atron’s many regular playmates.

“But BlackHeart, this fox here said he wanted to show me something cool he found. Can’t I eat later,” moaned Prince Reu.

“No, first off that fox wants you to leave the safety of Lenagard and I forbid it. Now come in and eat before your food grows cold,” Ayana snipped, “Besides we would not wish for Lord Arajuan to eat your toes, now would we?”

“But that is a load of crap, BlackHeart, Arajuan is just a myth, and this fox swears it will be worth it,” He retorted.

“Such a cheeky tongue you have! Arajuan is not a myth and one day you will learn that. Are you coming or not!” Ayana hissed.

She floated across the ground. She hoped the trick would catch Atron’s eye. He loved learning new magic though to be honest he never seemed willing to learn from her.

Prince Reu heaved one last rock into the water then turned around in time to notice Ayana floating in mid-air. His mouth dropped open then snapped shut again.

“How are you doing that?” he asked.

She smiled back at him glad he would come in. The forest outside Lenagard’s territory was dangerous these days.

“It is not all that hard. You could do it too you know,” replied Ayana as she floated toward the castle.

“Really,” asked the young prince, “I can fly like that? How is that even possible? I mean will you teach me?”

“Of course, I will teach you,” replied Ayana, “first close your eyes.”

Prince Reu shut his eyes, he grinned, with his hands folded behind his head. As his sister, Ayana was shocked that this had worked, he actually wanted to learn something from her.

“All right,” she said, “now, feel the energy around your feet. Focus on it and turn it into large balls under them.”

Prince Atron opened his eyes and copied Ayana’s spell and floated.

“Look, I did it I am floating,” Prince Reu, proclaimed.

Ayana’s eyes widened with shock. She knew the prince was a quick learner, but this was fast, she was perplexed. She was also very impressed if he could learn this quick maybe she could as well. Perhaps this was something the child learned from the wolves.

“How did you do that?” She inquired.

“I copied you, that’s all,” Reu laughed as Tsuke and Tuk let them in.

“Copied me? You cannot just copy magic as a mortal does with mundane things. It is not possible,” She retorted as she entered the dining hall, “None the less it is time to eat your dinner. I am leaving to speak to Queen Esmir, so please behave yourself.”

“One can copy magic; I do it all the time.” He said, “I always behave myself. Now how do I stop floating?”

“Imagine the balls under your feet slowly deflating and you will not float anymore, or you could just copy me,” she laughed.

The Princess landed on the ground her feet making a soft thud against the stone floor. Ayana pivoted and left the dining hall with hopes that Queen Esmir would grant her request to leave the next day.

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