The campfire crackled joyously in the dark. A cold wind whistled through the trees and struck the half-elf unrelentingly. He let out a small shiver and threw a couple more sticks onto the fire, being careful not to disturb the squirrel which was roasting on a makeshift spit.
The half elf shifted silently and pulled his leather cloak tighter around him in a feeble attempt to keep the wind off his skin. He had traveled all day and most of the night, and welcomed a short rest, but mostly he wished the wind would quit harassing him.
A small opening in the trees above him gave him a decent view of the stars, which were faded and distant tonight. Besides the fire and the stars, no other light pierced the night which covered his camp sight like a heavy blanket. Something about this darkness made him uneasy, and he pulled his bow closer to him, taking note of two arrows beside it.
'Something just isn't natural about this darkness,” he thought to himself.
His stomach rumbled softly from under his heavy cloak and he decided quickly that it was time to ear his catch. As he leaned forward, a blue globe of light flew violently over his head, illuminating the camp fleetingly as it passed harmlessly overhead. (Harmlessly, quite the opposite of how the attacker had intended it, no doubt.)
In one motion, the half-elf doubled over, rolled to his bow, and loosed an arrow in the direction from which the globe had come. A dull thud sounded back a second later, confirming that he had only struck a tree.
Suddenly, the half-elf realized why it has been so dark that night.
In all his travels, the half-elf had only encountered a User (as those who can wield magic are called) once. The mage had helped the half-elf tend to a wound he sustained hunting in the west of the forest of Elderwood some days ago. Before they parted ways, the mage made mention of a band of Users who had been reported in Elderwood causing travelers all sorts of trouble, “Often,” the mage said, “raiding camps and taking prisoners.”
"Be wary of the dark, for it is more sinister as you travel east through the forest," was the warning the mage gave the half-elf in parting.
And here he was now, in the heart of Elderwood, and he had left his guard down. ‘This is what the old man was talking about,’ he said, reprimanding himself and setting to work dousing the fire. ‘If I can’t see, neither can the Users. They won’t be getting any more advantages from me.’
Another gust of wind wracked his face. He could smell a faint stench drifting on the wind. He moved silently to the edge of the camp, listening for the faintest noise of movement.
A blast of dirt and wood erupted from where his remaining kindling had been laying, mere inches from his feet. The blast knocked him forward a bit. He used the momentum to roll once again, and fire an arrow that hissed with purpose towards his attacker.
The darkness around him seemed to recede slowly. All was silent for a few moments. Peering about his destroyed camp, the half-elf reached for a tin, crooked blade which had been displaced in the blast.
Brandishing the blade, he approached the area in which he had loosed the second arrow, carefully placing one foot in front of the other.
Laying still amongst the leaves twenty feet outside of the camp was a man in dark robes who had an arrow inconveniently sticking out if his neck. The half-elf carefully examined the body.
He was definitely an elf, but taller than most the half-elf had encountered. He was clean shaven and looked well-kept except for the blood that littered his face and neck. A small insignia shone brightly on his robes, even in the pervasive dark.
The insignia was enclosed in a circle. Five small stars where connected with thin silver lines in the shape of a larger star. A crecent moon appeared in two corners, and half moons in the others. A fifth and full moon shone brightly in the center of the larger star.
The half-elf straddled the User and began to cut away the insignia at his breast. As he made the final cut, a bloody hand snatched up and caught his wrist. It held tightly and pulled the half elf close. The user sputtered a few words, sending spit and blood into the half-elf’s ear in addition to his dying message.
"The Dark One rules here. Soon He will rule all."
The hand released its grip, and life faded from the User’s face. The half-elf looked for a second at the blank stare the User cast up towards the moon. He reached out and closed the eyelids on the pale face in order to help the elf’s soul find peace in the darkness.
'Only the dead sleep tonight.' thought the half-elf as he began to pack up camp in the still hovering darkness, not daring to light another fire.
The sky showed a deep red as the sun began its ascent. The woods had given him little trouble after dispatching the User, and the half-elf had managed to find the road just before daybreak. He had only traveled a couple of miles from the eastern edge of Elderwood when he came upon a small town which was waking with the newly rising sun. A few villagers guided horses which pulled carts of wares and crops. Some were bustling in and out of shops.
The half-elf found the tavern and settled into a bar seat between two large, hairy regulars.
"Don’t believe I’ve seen you in here before," said the barkeep.
"Just got into town. I’ve had a rough night. How about a pint?" The half-elf dropped a couple of silver on the bar.
"What news have you heard from the East," asked the half-elf.
"Not so much from the East these days. Seems the Empire has forgotten anyone west of the Divide exists." One of the regulars gave the half-elf a quick glance and chuckled into his drink. He laid a couple silver on the bar and said his farewell to the barkeep. "As I was saying, seems the only news we get around here these days is sinister stuff from the West. Seems as though there are Users crossing the barrier to the South."
The half-elf put a hand over the pocket in which he had placed the insignia of the previous night’s attacker. “But the barriers,” he questioned. “I though the barriers were in place for a reason.”
The other regular he had been squeezed between until a minute ago turned to face him.
"I’ll tell you what they’re in place for!" He yelled. "It’s to keep those damn Lunies out. Only problem is that the Users on our side messed everything up, and let a Lunie lead the whole damn thing."
The half-elf finished a portion of his drink. “You don’t say?”
The regular coked his head and gave the half elf a funny look. “Yeah, I do say,” he said gesturing wildly with his hands in the process. “And I say that this country would have been better off if we would have just killed you pointy-eared fucks off in the war. Then there wouldn’t be any need for magical barriers or magic bullshit. This place would have been better off without you elven scum.”
The half-elf drained another portion of his drink. “Is that so?”
The regular’s eyes flashed and so did his hands. In a second, he was brandishing his sword and advancing on the half-elf. In another second, the half-elf had made a move away from the bar and slammed his attackers arm down hard, disarming him. With a quick twisting motion and a little force, the half-elf was able to subdue the regular, despite the regular towering head and shoulders over the half-elf.
Calmly, he turned to the barkeep. “I’ll need a room for two nights.”
"Sure. Anything. Just let him go."
The half-elf gave a small shove to the regular, and the man toppled onto his face in the middle of the bar, breaking a chair as he fell aided by the combined forces of the shove, too much mead, and gravity.
The half-elf lay 3 gold on the bar.
"It’ll only be two gold, sir."
"Buy a new chair." The half-elf drained his drink and took his key.
He awoke in the Inn later on in the day to a bit of commotion in the bar just down the stairs. Pulling himself off the lumpy mattress he decided he should go have a drink and see what he could find out about the Users from the south.
He sat in the same seat in which he had been attacked earlier and ordered another pint off the same bartender.
'These humans aren't much to talk to, but they can brew a beer,” he thought to himself as he took a swig.
He chatted up two scruffy looking humans who told him nobody in town knew magic, but that there had been a User a couple of weeks ago who had caused a lot of trouble for the bar.
"He looked normal enough," said one of the scruffy men. "Human, anyway." He took a deep draw from a mug and seemed unable to keep the beer from getting in his beard. "Then he started talking about the full moon and the winter solstice and we all wrote him off as a Lunie-lover. We get them all the time. Men whose minds have been turned by the forest. People wander in here in all states from the forest. Drives them mad." He took another swig and deposited more beer into his beard.
"It’s not right, that forest," said his friend. "It’s been getting darker and colder since Winter some months ago. Seems the Lunies have more control over it than Mother Nature herself." He followed his friend’s example and deposited half his beer in his mouth and half in his beard.
The half-elf drank a portion of his drink, not a drop on his face.
"Lunies worship the moon, you see. That’s why they’re called Lunies." He paused there, and for dramatic effect, took another draft of his drink.
"That and they’re crazy," said the barkeep.
"I believe," said the Half-elf reaching into a pocket and producing the insignia from the night before, "I killed one of those ‘Lunies’ last night." He took a drink while he watched the surprised faces of the humans around him. "I’d like to know why he attacked me."
"What do you mean, why?" Asked the first regular. "They kill anyone they find in Elderwood. That, or they take you prisoner. And anyone who has been a prisoner of the Lunies has wished he would have just been killed."
"Mostly," the other regular added, "they just kill people. And they’re good at it. Not too many people can say they’ve survived an attack." He gave the half-elf the same kind of funny look he had received a few hours ago from a different regular. "Certainly not any Half-elves," he added quickly as he drained his beer and left a couple silver on the bar. "Be careful waving that thing around. People around here don’t like Users like your kind does. We prefer steel to books and chanting." He began to walk away and then added, "You should get out of town as soon as you can, elf."
The half-elf agreed with him on most of those points, but not his love for Users. He had no love for Users. “Another pint, please.”
Does anyone else ever just suddenly feel like nothing we do means anything in the grand scheme of things? In an Infinite Universe, with Infinite stars and planets, infinite organisms exist, and each live their daily lives waiting for tomorrow.
We eat to sustain ourselves, but for what? We fight and bicker amongst ourselves, but why? We live each day in preparation for the next.
My guess is that most people don’t think like I do. They don’t see the pointlessness. Or if they do, they’re too busy trying to forget about it. They drink themselves under the table. They consume everything from gargantuan meals to reality television. They consume and are blissfully unaware that none of it means a damn.
I hope that tomorrow the world ends. So then, at least, I will have been a part of something that is bigger than all of us here on this tiny green-blue marble.
I’m tired. I’m tired of existing simply to breath another breathe. I’m no longer content simply to watch the world turn once more. I’m cursed with a mind that asks “why?” instead of “why not.”
I need a purpose, because I refuse to play the game as it stands. The rules are wildly unfair, and the odds have been stacked against all of us. I didn’t choose to be. I didn’t pick my situation. I was forced into this, and there’s only one way out.
And yet, I persist. I wait. For what? So that others may tell me what my life means? Do I wait for God to tell me I have sinned? What are we waiting for? What promise does tomorrow bring that keeps us moving?
This has been a 3-hour adventure so far. And I’m not even half way through this shit.
I feel as a weary wanderer amidst a long road
Who comes to the base of a hill and rests his head.
Though the journey may still continue on,
He thinks not of what lies ahead.
He sits and ponders the wonders around him,
Content now to rest a while.
His bones ache and his muscles clench,
As though he has walked many a mile.
It’s here he sees the road ahead,
And knows he must go on.
For stories of the past still haunt him,
Of love once had, and love now gone.
Each time he wakes under a large tree or bush,
Barely sheltered from the wind and rain
He checks his mind to find her there,
But he finds only pain.
And it’s in his mind she now dwells,
A faint touch upon his demeanor.
In his heart she resides, too,
And one day he will again meet her.
The road he walks is lonely.
The steps he takes are forced.
The enemy all around him is creeping,
But he sways not from his course.
Each day he hears her calling him,
In distant days that have past.
Each day he bears his burden again,
Each day may be his last.
In searching again for a love once lost,
He’s come to know the truth.
Though he carries his burdens on his back,
His face shows none to you.
The weary wanderer waddles wildly
Through wind and snow and rain.
Where once he felt the warmth of love,
Now he feels only pain.
He’s come to rest here, upon the hill,
Where once, with another, he rested before.
His love, here it originated,
And now passes into lore.
I feel like this great traveler.
The one that bears the weight.
I am this weary wanderer,
But my hour is not so late.
In pain I can find the happiness
Of knowing what once was love.
Through pain I know the real reward
Of knowing what I am made of.
Each scar shows as a trophy now,
Where once the pain was hidden.
And each who look upon my brow
See now what once was forbidden.
I wish once again to see the light,
To have a love again.
I wish once again to know the love
From which this all began.
The road lay ahead of me,
Long and dark and winding.
Though I know not what lie ahead,
I know that love is worth finding.
I wander sometimes by myself
In lands of static and chaos
Amidst dreams once dreamt
And memories now faded.
Your face is pale and beautiful.
Your body presses softly against mine.
For a minute, we can be one.
For a minute. Oh, for a minute more.
And suddenly, I’m waking.
I’m startled and alone here.
I close my eyes to again feel you near -
These fucking memories - nightmares in the making.
I sleep again, and dream, perchance
To find you once again.
I search those nightmares up and down,
To find out what we meant.
Where do you fit in to life?
And where do I fit, too?
What did it mean when we got together?
And did you feel it, too?
In the morning I can hear the Earth waking up. Feel the gentle brush of the morning sun rays falling from a golden fiery expanse of clouds and open sky. I can feel the breeze on my cheek, gently floating by and hurrying along to its unknown destination. The trees, previously dark and ominous, now spring each to life. The green shows cautiously through the breaking dusk. And suddenly, a motor in the distance. That sort of dull humming that won’t pass. And still yammers on and on until it leaves you in silence once more. But wait, here is that humming again, and again it passes you, but this time it is continued anew! Oh, the cars have awoken! The people are awake and living in a new day. Each possesses in him the ability to touch positively the lives of each and every person he meets. But today he wants to run this stupid fuck ahead of him off the road.
…That’s my attempt at comedy. You’re welcome.