Chapter One: The Wave Breaks
A snow white rabbit bounded away, as a beautiful elf made her way through the thick forest undergrowth. Long cream hair was tied away from her face with a blue ribbon and leaves had found a resting place among the strands. Her blue eyes scanned the underbrush and brightened on spotting something peeking out from below a fallen log.
Her tall slender form knelt on one knee in front of the log, barely noticing that the moist ground was now making a dark mud patch on her trousers. She shrugged off a leather pack from her back and undid the leather tie that held it shut. The elf removed a glass jar with a cork stopper from the bag and glanced at the tag that was tied around its neck. Satisfied that she had the right container, the elf then removed the cork stopper with a slight pop sound. The elf then turned to her target, a group of closely knit mushrooms, which all had tiny blue dots spotted on their white caps.
“Zirdet Ulort; or as they are more commonly named, Zorts. Great for the common cold or, mixed with coconut oil, for a soothing sore cream,” the elf told herself cheerfully. “Good in a steak stew too.”
Luna Zarall was the local herbalist and healer, though her knowledge for her age was sometimes questioned by her more mature clients. Luna had been learning herbalism since she was barely old enough to talk. Her grandmother had taught her and had been like a fount of knowledge with a never ending supply of new information. When her grandmother died, Luna had stepped up into the position. Luna was currently up in the mountain range near her home, searching for herbs for her small shop.
As Luna twisted a couple of the Zorts from the ground and dropped them gently into the glass container, she suddenly froze. Upon seeing a dash of deep red after removing one of the Zorts, Luna checked the area more closely.
“You sneaky devil,” Luna stated aloud. “Aedeek.”
Hidden amongst the cluster of Zorts, looking very much similar to the mushrooms around it, was an Aedeek, or Devil Mushroom. The Devil Mushroom’s only difference in appearance was that under its identical cap were red gills. Many picked the mushrooms, not noticing the red, and for that simple mistake they were poisoned upon touch. The poison caused immense vomiting, mild hallucinations and in some bad cases, if the body was already weakened by something else, the patient died.
Luna pulled another container from her pack and removed a knife from it’s sheath at her waist. On the belt at her waist, she also had a small satchel and a row of small vials. The vials held different coloured powders crushed from the local flora. She dug into the ground around the Devil Mushroom, making sure she removed the vulva from the ground. Luna spotted several others, digging them up and putting them in the container with the other one. Upon removing all Devil Mushrooms that she could see, Luna then pulled a red strip of cloth from her pack. She tied it around a tree right next to the mushrooms and it fluttered slightly in the mountain breeze. The red cloth was a signal to any other foragers that there were Devil Mushrooms in the area and to be careful when picking.
Satisfied with the amount she had collected for the day, Luna turned away and started to walk down the mountain. She smiled as several birds called to each other from the tree tops and the sun sent rays in patches to the forest floor. It was late afternoon and the sun would be setting soon. Luna suddenly had an idea and altered her path slightly to head in the new direction.
Not far down the mountain, Luna came across an outlook that was cleared from the forest. Several wooden benches dotted the clearing and several fruit trees were flowering on the edge. The outlook was a favourite spot for picnics and many an enjoyable afternoon had been passed at this location. Luna looked to the horizon that was spread out in front of the clearing and the sun was beginning to set in its own reflection on the waters of an ocean. Sprawled on the shore and plain leading up to the mountains was a large village.
Dewmere was the village where Luna lived and had lived since she was born. It was a coastal Elven village which was rarely seen, but Luna wouldn’t have it any other way. She had the best of both worlds with both the ocean and mountains practically at her doorstep.
Luna lived in a house attached to her shop in the centre of the village, along with her parents, Pearl and Vern, and younger brother, Maas. Her parents also ran a shop in town, although they were clothiers instead of herbalists or healers. Luna was often left in charge of Maas, who was born twenty years after Luna and was currently four years old. He was a handful at times, but Luna adored him.
“Ah, if it isn’t Luna Zarall! Been out picking flowers again?” a male voice interrupted her thoughts.
“Mushrooms actually,” Luna responded to a young gentleman who entered the clearing.
“Ooh, aren’t we fancy. I’m just about to go find some berries,” the man said with a grin.
“Well, I wish you luck, but it’s a bit early in the season for berries,” Luna said with a laugh.
“Darn it, I guess I’ll get mushrooms then. I had to get out of town, the local witch got a message from her cousin and it’s causing a rush of curiosity through the village. Madam Roche says that an earthquake happened nearby her cousin’s place and that it’s a foretelling of great wealth. I say she’s still as stark raving mad as she was yesterday,” the man said in disgust.
Luna rolled her eyes and then frowned. While Madam Roche was the village ‘witch’ and fortune teller and never got anything right, the earthquake reminded her of something her grandmother had said once. Luna glanced at the shoreline and her heart skipped a beat. The tide was low, lower than she’d ever seen and was receding to show the ocean floor. With a sick feeling forming in her chest, Luna looked to the horizon. To her horror, her suspicions from the stories her grandmother had taught her, large waves were rolling across the ocean towards the village. Even from high above the plain, Luna could tell that the waves would reach well in land. Her mouth went dry and her eyes widened.
“Tsunami,” Luna whispered in shock.
The man had his back to the horizon and frowned in confusion. Luna didn’t stop to explain; instead she began running as fast as she could down the mountain.
“Dear God!” the man muttered as Luna ran past him and he noticed the tsunami approaching.
Luna lost sight of the village and ocean as she manoeuvred her way through the trees. She knew the land like the back of her hand but even this knowledge didn’t seem to help her get to her destination as quickly as she wanted. Luna slid down the steep slopes instead of following the path, hoping to be quicker via the shortcuts.
Luna heard the roar of water, the crashing of waves, and tears stung her eyes.
“I have to get back to Mum, Dad and Maas, I have to. Please be alright,” Luna muttered.
Even as she continued to run, she knew she had no hope of getting there in time. It had taken her two hours to cross the plain and climb the mountain. The next half hour was filled with the greatest blur of action she had ever felt.
Luna had been held back from going further down the mountain when she came across some family friends. The threat of further waves meant that Luna would be in danger if she went down the mountain. The family friends shook their heads and several of the young women cried. Luna didn’t need tears, she just needed to know where her family was. They had their whole family safely up the mountain, hers were still in the village. One of the young male elves, who Luna had formerly had a huge crush on, wrapped his arms firmly around her waist.
“There’s nothing you can do,” he whispered to her. “The village is gone… there is nothing left.”
Luna lashed out, her fingernails dealing several scratches along his muscled arms. He didn’t ease the pressure however and eventually Luna resisted less and collapsed in a blanket of oblivion.
Luna awoke a couple of days later, after the tsunami had struck, her head throbbing with a headache. Unlike many of her fellow elves, she had stayed strong and hadn’t cried for the first days. Luna still clung onto the hope of finding her parents and brother alive.
Unfortunately the night before the present day, Luna’s parent’s bodies had been found. They were still clinging onto each other and had obviously had time to react to the wave because a thick rope was tied around them. Another piece of rope trailed between them, but it seemed to have been snapped by the strong waters. Luna could only hope that this had been for Maas and he had somehow escaped and been washed to safety.
As for the village, Luna had convulsed at the sight of the devastation that had replaced it. Other than some of the homes closer to the mountain, every building had been demolished. The sea was now further inland than it had been as the waters hadn’t receded much after the waves had hit. Luna had to wade through water to go anywhere she used to walk on dry sturdy land. Bodies floated in the water and debris covered the land like a dirty wooden blanket.
Clerics, Warlocks and Sorcerers would deal with the bodies as soon as the initial chaos was dealt with. Survivors needed a place to stay and a base of operation would be established from where the leaders would plan future clean up. A mass grave would be established, since the number of dead were in the hundreds at the very least.
Luna and several others set out to forage what food they could find, or perhaps some surviving furniture from the floodwaters. Of course by this point they just used what they could find, without much thought to who it had formerly belonged to. The leaders would have to deal with that after clean-up began and homes were rebuilt.
Luna waded through the murky waters, pieces of debris bumping against her legs. The rest of the group followed closely behind, pulling on random piles of wood searching for something usable. Her own mind wasn’t really on the task at hand and she instead looked for signs of her brother.
The water was up to Luna’s waist and she had already soaked most of her lower clothing. A short distance from her a movement caught her eye and she turned slightly to examine it closer.
Luna felt an icy shiver go up her spine as a large black fin emerged from the water, slimy black sales gleaming in the morning sunlight. The fin disappeared moments later and Luna began to back away. As she moved she began to pick up pace and she looked at where the rest of the group were scavenging in the water.
“GET OUT OF THE WATER!!” Luna screamed a warning to the group at the top of her lungs. “THERE’S ROT-“
Even as Luna tried to run and yell, something wrapped around her legs. Slimy and slightly prickly, she tried to quickly kick it off. However even smaller pitch black fins emerged around her. She stumbled slightly and was suddenly pulled into the murky depths.
The next minute went by in a flash, from the stinging water in her eyes to the pain as debris dug into her skin. The moment that Luna was underwater she tried to preserve as much breath as possible, however the more hits she took the less control she had. Slimy eel-like creatures slivered against face, arms and legs. They would play with her and then drown her and finally devour her slowly. For that was what these water creatures did.
The wrapping around Luna’s legs eased suddenly but returned seconds later around her chest. The feeling wasn’t so smooth however and it seemed to hook onto her underarm area.
Luna was dragged out of the water and before she knew it she was dangling in the sky. Several black eels still wrapped around her body but they dropped off quickly. Luna coughed harshly and began to try and look at what had lifted her from her watery grave however a male voice interrupted her.
“Be still, I can’t carry you very long if you move around like that,” the male voice ordered.
Luna allowed herself to relax and her saviour flew to sturdy ground quite a distance away. When she was back on hard ground, she lay down and took deep breathes. Curiosity distracted her recovery however and she turned to see her rescuer. To her slight surprise, her visual investigation was met with the form of a tall male fairy.
The fairy had long, pointed ears which curved into a point and one of them had a single blue and black feather dangling from a stud. Almond shaped eyes had a pearlescent blue to them and his hair was darken as it with dripped trickles of water down his face. He surveyed her with breathless concern, but, upon several long sweeps of her body, seemed to find that she was in no immediate threat of dying. He collapsed onto the ground next to her and covered his face with a slim arm.
“Thank you for the save,” Luna stated once she had recovered lightly.
“What I’d like to know is why you were wading through dangerous flood waters,” the fairy replied with slight annoyance. “It’s the perfect environment for Rotbrute, you should be more careful.”
“Look, I’m sorry, but I was looking for clues as to where my brother is,” Luna replied carefully. “I didn’t realize the threat. We don’t usually get Rotbrute here.”
The fairy sighed and sat up, mud slipped seamlessly from his wings almost as if they were repelling any dirt that rested on them. His wings looked paper thin as they were transparent and mixed with green and black colours. The wings had veins much like a leaf but they were more apparent because of the transparency.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to sound angry. The tsunami has brought about a lot of change to the environment and we have to learn to adapt and survive in these new conditions,” the fairy replied, his voice less rebuking.
Luna relaxed and shook her head with a smile.
“I’m Luna, and I’m pleased to meet you,” Luna stated holding a hand out to him.
“They call me Raine,” the fairy responded shaking her hand gently. “And I too am looking for my family. We were separated after the wave hit.”
“Then you may as well join us until you find more information,” Luna offered as she sat up. “We have a small encampment and by the looks of you, you aren’t carrying many possessions on you.”
“I’d appreciate that, thanks,” Raine replied, a smile causing dimples on his cheeks. “Even the little things can help.”
Luna nodded as she stood up from the ground and tried to swipe the mud from her arms. Her hair had turned an ash grey colour from the water and her clothing was dripping muddied water. Luna had to admit, even she didn’t think she looked like the most reliable person at that moment.
“LUNA!” a yelled from nearby alerted Luna to the presence of the group she’d left behind. “We’ve found some people who has information about your brother!”
Next Chapter (Chapter Two: The Tide Rises)
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