Chronicles of Draumerheim
When I was only twelve, still in sewn rags with broom in hand, my master told me that there are no more elves; all of them simply vanished, in the entire world. Some say they turned to dust, some say they left to another realm where no man can dwell. For that reason my hood is scarcely lowered. My master told me once that there are those who will condemn me for my cursed heritage. Once, he told me that I’d be better off if just cut my ears down to size. I thought about it, but there’s this old wives tell- or at least I assume it is, I haven’t really any one to ask about it—that removing an elves ears is like yanking the whiskers from off a cat.
I am only a half elf, but like a cat, my balance is one of my most prominent traits and it fairs well with my masonry work, earning me bonuses when I’m able to reach a leaning gargoyle or cherub without plummeting to the ground. My master, in his loving kindness taught me all there was to know about masonry so that I might grow up to carry on his masterful legacy. “You’ll do well to carry on my trade. Draumerheim will need good masons… that city’s older than the gods themselves.”
The waves continue to gently splosh against this ship—waves, that assist most men in slumber with pleasant dreams. Yet tonight these waves took my mind to a place of deep contemplation.
“She’ll be easy to find, enchantresses always are. If anyone knows what became of your people, it would be her. The first ship to Draumerheim sails in the morning.” my master’s voice echoed through my head, alongside the splashing waves.
Eventually I did fall asleep that night, though I didn’t’ realize it until I awoke the next day to the sound of cannon fire and the smell of gunpowder.
”All men on deck and getch your ladies down below!”
I opened up the sodden, sea-soaked door; its only true purpose was to create the illusion of privacy. I could hear straight through it; the captain was trying to hold order while order was unraveling faster than the ship was sinking. His rasp, smoke ridden voice was at its peak.
He shouted “You! Either git below deck, or pick up a sword, they’re ‘bout to board.”
I heard a woman reply, her voice traveled through the air and cut through the rotted wood between us. “First of all, what swords? Second of all…” Her soft yet carrying voice trailed off, and I heard something ignite on deck—not an explosion, just a vast, violent rush of flame.
“Witch! Sorceress!” Men’s voices cried out.
I had finished strapping on my boots and I had fastened my leather vest tightly.
I barely made out the Captain’s next phrase under the sound of men rambling about on deck.
“Never mind the witch! Them brigands are ‘bout to slam straight into our hold!”
I stood up, clinched my fists together and stretched my arms back over my head; my back popped a bit. I wasn’t accustomed to sleeping in hammocks, even today, supposedly the last day of a month long voyage. I awoke sore.
On my way through the door, I scooped up my rapier and buckler, strapping the small shield to my left arm as I slid the rapier in my belt. The hallway of the ship’s passenger quarters was dim, narrow, dank, and full of chaos. Men scrambled from room to room, some running messages, some grabbing anything that could be made into a weapon, and some finding hiding places.
The aged grizzled captain raised his voice as loud as his dusted lungs allowed him to go. “Here she is. Remember, you’ve got wives, sons, and daughters below. You’re fight’n to keep, they’re fight’n to take!”
I emerged on deck. The Captain unsheathed his cutlass and braced himself. Thirty-some men struggled to keep their courage as the enemy ship grew nearly within boarding distance. The woman I heard from below, the witch stood several steps back from the crowd of would-be soldiers, with a small flame hovering above her palm. She wasn’t one of those ragged, woodland witches, nor a highborn magician, or some jewel adorned oracle; rather, she was traveling witch, perhaps out to secure some fabled treasure or to hone her skills—basic leathers a belt lined with various pouches and small vials of mysterious ingredients, no doubt for spell casting. Her hair was black, and straight, not terribly long. It did look like she attempted to put some effort in to keeping it clean and untangled, although after a month anybody’s hair begins to collect oil. Her face was very clean however, eerily clean. I wondered why I hadn’t seen her before, we have been sailing for nearly a month.
Just as that thought passed through my head, she projected flame from the flat of her palm, straight into the enemy sails. The enemy began launching scattered arrows, and the fight was on.