Zasha woke up suddenly, sat up abruptly, and rubbed his sore back. He just had a nightmare, right? His memory was better than most people, yet something, something, had happened yesterday. Or was it last night? Zasha began to feel a headache, so he stopped stressing out about it and looked around.
He was at the side of a barren flat land, with scattered trees around it. The scorched grass looked crimson in some places. There were splotches of the crimson grass everywhere, including one by the tree by which he was sitting. He examined and sniffed it and found to his disgust it was blood. This must be a battle field. That was really strange. Zasha wasn’t a soldier.
There were horses approaching with riders upon them. They seemed to be chasing a pack of deer, waving their bows and stringing arrows. A man in the center was dressed more gallantly than the rest, held his head up higher, and seemed to be directing the rest. Zasha jumped up and watched their progress. The archers strung many arrows, yet few made contact with a deer. The group was clearly enjoying the hunt, when the decorated man Zasha had noticed looked away from the deer and looked directly at Zasha. He directed two men towards him.
He was confused. He didn’t remember what had happened yesterday that had led to him sleep the night on a grassy field without blankets or supplies. He didn’t remember anything, in fact. Well, he could remember Alex and Chance. At least, he could remember the feelings he’d shared with both of them, but nothing specific. He had no memories of the times they’d spent together, no mention of his other friends’ names, no comprehension of school. Zasha was a great student, but if someone quizzed him on anything he had learned in school that past year, he’d be lost.
Zasha couldn’t dwell on that now, though. The two riders were approaching, annoyed and disappointed about missing out on the deer hunt. “Are you from the village?” the first man asked quickly.
“No, I don’t know what you are talking about. Well, I understand what you mean, but --” Zasha began.
“So you aren’t? Then are you one of those peace-lovers, the Dohworn? Well, that’s just great,” the other man cut off Zasha. He rolled his eyes at the first man.
“Well, I don’t know. What are the Dohworn?” Zasha asked, glad for some information.
The men looked at him incredulously. One stated, “The Dohworn are known about widely, even to those overseas stuck-up fairies, the Alited.”
“Let’s take him to Stian,” the first suggested. “Then he can decide if he wants to take the boy to the elves or whatever.” The other shrugged, and trotted off on his horse.
The first man, whose name was Andrew, got Zasha up on his horse and took off. They galloped quickly to catch up with the hunting party. Andrew and Zasha found the party in the forest. They were finished hunting and gathering up the wanted parts of the deer. The leader, now known as Stian, was taken aside by Andrew while Zasha was left at the edge of the activity. Stian and Andrew talked briefly, and Andrew walked back to Zasha.
He said wearily, “I’m supposed to take you to the Esafav, the elves. They take offense easily, so don’t let them get angry at you.” That was all he said more to Zasha. They rode for two hours, or so it felt, when they came to many dwellings spread about a city. The city had no cars, no billboards, and no flashy stores. Zasha hadn’t seen a car anywhere since he had arrived here...wherever “here” was. Of course, if there had been cars, he wouldn’t have known which one was a Ford, or a Dodge, or much of anything. He still couldn’t remember. It frustrated him, but reality pulled him back when the horse came before a palace. Obviously the elfin palace. It was magnificent, with detail in every element. This palace was built with skill and not science.
There were many elves walking about the grand city. There were few children, most likely at school. Whatever that was. This memory thing was really irking Zasha. An elf came out, questioning Andrew and the young boy’s presence. The elf spoke with an accent, and he made common language seem like a song. Zasha wanted to just listen to him speak, not caring what he said. When the elf started using louder volumes in his face, Zasha started, realizing the elf was talking to him.
“If your clan is neither the Dohworn, nor the Hoshikill, then where have you come from?” the elf asked.
“I don’t know,” Zasha said plainly. “I just woke up this morning. I can’t remember anything. Well, I do remember my two friends. That’s it. Do you know an Alexandra or Chance? Neither of them belong to the clans either, I think. But I don’t really know about the clans.”
“Is he talking about that being that was found on the battlefield two nights ago?” the elf murmured to Andrew.
“Dunno,” Andrew replied, sounding more than a little bored.
Apparently accepting that as an answer, the elf said, “I’ll take you to the Council. You can talk there.” He dismissed Andrew. Zasha followed him into the palace, noticing the lack of stairs. Another transfer of authority, Zasha thought as he followed the noble elf down the marble hallways. They passed an open doorway and entered a room full of very old elves. They all had white hair and that wise quaint quality only found in those with years behind them, yet still sane. Right now they were discussing loudly yet controlled about some issue.
They noticed Zasha in unison. As if someone had announced his presence, but no one had spoken. Odd. “Perhaps you could clear up some things for us, stranger,” an elf on the most beautifully crafted seat said. His greeting made clear to the others that they were not to discuss the other issues in front of this being.
Zasha nodded. “That’d be helpful,” he said with a wisp of sarcasm.
“Now, then. Pyra, what do you know about our little visitor?” the same dignified elf asked Zasha’s guide, maintaining the same amount of sarcasm and a drop more.
“Not much. He claims he is neither Hoshikill nor Dohworn. He does know two other clanless ones, or so he thinks. Their names are Alexandra and Chance, correct?” Pyra now turned to Zasha.
“Yes. Do you know them?” Zasha asked.
“Sirs, could he be speaking of --” the elf guide, Pyra, started.
“Possibly.” One of the elves cut him off and shot the younger elf a glare. “Ah, but look. We haven’t even introduced ourselves and we have a visitor. I am Ranjit.”
Other names rang out, and Zasha could not keep up with the quick musical introductions. The dignified elf was last. “Finally, I am Avery, the current leader of the Esafav, the elves.” Avery noticed Pyra staying in the room, paying eager attention. “Pyra, you may leave now. In fact, everyone but the senior members are dismissed. Thank you.”
When only two other elves were left, Avery immediately turned to Zasha. “What is your name, human?”
“Zasha,” he said.
“Now, before we go any further, are you in league with the trolls, dwarves, giants, or Kaugh? We must know,” Avery said, his tone sounding strange.
“I don’t even know what those are!” Zasha cried in frustration.
“Fine. Our spies have found one of your kind in the trolls’ village. He is rumored to have been found on the battlefield of Kar two nights ago. We don’t know for sure. Wait, where did you say you
came from?” Avery said.
Zasha took a breath. “I woke up this morning in a field. It had blood dried on the grass in many places, like what you’d expect on like a battlefield. Then this raving hunting party found me, and their leader apparently decided to send me off to the elves. His name was Stian, I think. Then I came to this city on horseback. I followed Pyra into this room. That’s all. I don’t remember anything else, not even the night before.”
“So you must have been here on the battlefield of Kar as well,” Avery breathed. “Remarkable. There was another, Alex....right?”
“Alexandra,” Zasha corrected.
“Then she’ll probably be in the same place tonight,” Avery declared. “We will find her. The trolls must not get another piece of this confusing puzzle. But you...” He searched Zasha’s eyes. “Of course you want to go. But you mustn’t. The battlefield is dangerous, because the trolls use the grounds near it for hunting. Stay here in the city. We’ll figure this out tomorrow if your companion shows up. I will take you to my house, where you can rest. Come.”
Zasha figured the real reason the elves didn’t let him go to the battlefield is because they didn’t trust him. He pondered this all night long, wondering if this whole experience was a hallucination.
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