Some time ago
Ancient Hidden Woodland Realm
The village I was born in was small.
Sariel looked up from the map she held. The map itself was drawn by her own hand, adorned by barely discernable scribbled notes in the margins. As her sharp eyes moved over the trees and rock formations, a smile pulled at the corner of her mouth, slowly turning into an excited grin.
She started running through the trees, expertly picking her way through the foliage barely leaving any trace of her presence, like Sariel never really existed all. She cleared a fallen tree and landed on an out cropping of rocks. She held still for a moment, listening to the forest, her elf ears twitching at the sounds of home…and the sounds of rushing water. After a moment, she gently pushed the low hanging leaves of a tree aside, and her eyes widen in excitement and wonder.
Beautiful…but Isolated. Reclusive.
“I found it.” She breathed out, but Sariel didn’t take a step forward into the utopia she had discovered. She turned on her heel and ran back the way she came, her little legs eating up the distance as fast as they could carry her.
Sariel made it back to the elegant elven village, tearing through the immaculately kept streets in her excitement. She expertly moved through the crowd, jumping over crates and boxes in the most direct way to her mother. The elves watched her as she disturbed the reflective quiet of the early morning. The onlookers shook their heads and bent close together, speaking in hushed tones about the wild eccentric child of Caelynn’s.
No one ever left.
Sariel slid to a stop when she saw her mother. “Mother!” She charged forward, “I found it! Mom, I found it!”
Her mother turned as Sariel ran towards her, her eyes widening in surprise as she crouched down to meet her child. Just as Sariel crashed into her mouther, a dawning understanding graced the older woman’s features, “You found it? Oh gods, you found it!” Her mother picked Sariel up, laughing as she hugged her daughter. “Shae! We need to find grandmother.” And they both tore through the streets now, Sariel’s excitement infectious. The other elves looked on with interest now. Maybe Caelynn’s daughter wasn’t as addled as they feared?
The world outside and the people who inhabited it were considered unworthy. Everything one needed was here. You either protected the realm, or you studied the ancient ways.
Three generations of Naïlo stood at the cliff formation and the waterfall of Nulo. There were no texts that described the waterfall. The location had been taken by the great lost 10,000 years ago. It was a place only Ancient elves would have known, and when they lost their knowledge, they lost the waterfall. Sariel had piece together the location from legends passed down through stories her grandmother told her.
Sariel took a step forward after her mother and grandmother into the clearing. They said it would never be found. The scholars said the waterfall was a myth. She touched one of the ancient trees that framed the small piece of paradise she found, and grinned, “You were not forgotten, wise one.” And Sariel’s smile softened as she turned to watch the wonder on her family’s face.
It was a small world.
They spent the day there, talking about how Sariel’s grandmother would present the findings at the next elder council meeting, how much Sariel had done for her people, how proud they were of her.
Sariel stayed with her grandmother, under an old tree that sheltered them from the sun. They watched as her mother examined different herbs and plant life, taking notes, and drawing pictures.
“I worry about you, dear one.” Her grandmother gently touched Sariel’s face, pulling her attention away from her mother. Sariel’s brow furrowed in confusion. “Why?”
“I know you will not stay here….” Her grandmother said quietly, so only Sariel could hear.
Sariel sighed, “Grandmother—”
But her grandmother continued on, unphased by her granddaughter’s tone, “You will be the only one to leave the village in recent history.” She paused, “Our lives are long ones but your mother and I will not always be here. I see that you don’t play with the other children. I worry that you will be alone.”
The other children had always watched Sariel with confusion, and perhaps a bit of fear. They thought her ideas were odd, that her dreams were dangerous.
“I don’t like friends.” Sariel’s hand moved to cover her grandmother’s, “I will never be alone. Wherever I go, I take you and mother with me. You are a part of me.”
But, I would look up at the sky at night, seeing how the stars littered the black expanse, and all I could see was how big the world was.
Her grandmother smiled faintly, “I look forward to seeing the worlds through your eyes, dear one.” She brushed a piece of errant hair from Sariel’s face, her old eyes moving over the face of the one she cherished above all others, “Because you haven’t met your friends yet, Shae. But you will. You will find the lost, and you will discover so many wonderous things. Remember, dear one, that the ties that connect you to this world are just as important as anything you discover within it. They are a part of the great adventure.”
She pulled her gaze away from Sariel and looked out over the forgotten waterfall. The one their elders had declared as a lost oasis. A smile pulled at the corner of her mouth, thinking how little time it took for her infant granddaughter to make a fool out of the most respected scholars in the village.
“Don’t be afraid to be who you are, Shae. Who you are is beautiful.”
…And how I wanted to see it all…