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A Story Commission
Chapter 1
Dangerous things lurk in the world. Of course the people of the city of Brightfall knew that. Tucked away, the Shattered Mountain at its back and the vast forests of Witherly veiling its face, it was all but hidden from the rest of the continent. No army had ever marched on its gates for the woods were perilous and the mountain has broken many a traveler and even more armies. Long ago, wars ravaged the country and many civilizations were destroyed. Such suffering caused one kingdom, the Kingdom of Eralia to retreat and there it found its sanctuary.

Self sustaining, Brightfall had little need to interact with any other kingdom or city for all around there were bountiful resources. But such isolation was a breeding ground for secrets and corruption. Brightfall was large, larger than any other city housing around five hundred thousand people, and every day the chain of politics seemed to grow longer with murder and deceit. Zenalya was just one more of them.

The crisp morning kissed her ebony skin and the sun, just barely touching the horizon, shone in her raven black hair. But her eyes were light, a vivid green of freshly grown grass, just breaking free of the soil. Her frame, was willowy, lean but supple and corded with light muscle and trademark pointed ears of the elves. But no matter what day she walked these streets or the forests outside these walls, she always dressed in green, light and comfortable. Zenalya thought she was ready for her day, but she had no idea what was really in store for her.

“Mornin’ Z!”

“Good morning, Bevin.”

She smiled at the witch behind the counter in the shop. But Bevin was more than just a shop owner, he was a friend. He was young and twenty eight, four years older than Zenalya, but where she was dark, he was fair and his hair was spun gold with vivid grey eyes that looked like liquid steel. And he was tall though his frame was a lanky one with little bulk. The life of a witch was not one that required a great amount of physical activity and even less so as a shop owner.

Bevin grinned mischievously, “I’m beginning to think that I really should make that Charisma charm for you. Z, the air you put off is as friendly as a werewolf that’s been shot multiple times with silver tipped arrows. How is it that you have come to have friends?”

The elf laughed, “Maybe I just bewitched them all. You should be careful. You are among the people I count as friends.”

“You fiend!” then he leaned against the counter, “I take it you are here to pick it up then?”

“That’s right.” Zenalya pulled a small sack of coins out and set it on the counter,

“Thanks for giving me a deal on it.”

“Ah, so your plot is revealed. Casting a spell on me to get cheaper items.” Bevin clucked his tongue but produced a small package, wrapped in cloth.

The elf delicately unwrapped the package to reveal a small, round mirror that could fit in the palm of her hand. Zenalya rubbed her thumb against the golden frame, carved into the shape of vines for a moment, studying her trinket.

“And it’s ready to use? Is there any sort of nonsense ritual that I have to do to activate it?”

“Have a care, Zen.” Bevin pointed out, “Magic is a powerful and dangerous thing.
There is no nonsense about it and it’s very much like women; temperamental, picky and doesn’t always listen.”

When she glared at him he grinned playfully and held up his hands in surrender.

“Yes, yes, it’s all ready. That mirror will now allow you to talk with anyone through their mirror. Just keep in mind, if they don’t have a mirror that’s enchanted then they can’t contact you. Only you can contact them.”

The dark elf pocketed the mirror and nodded.

“One more thing. I even threw in an Iron Spell on it since you do sometimes get involved in rougher things depending on the job you take. You’d have to drop the entire mountain on that mirror to get it to shatter. I tested it out just to be sure.”

Zenalya blinked, a bit annoyed. She wasn’t entirely certain she could pay for an extra fee like that but she slipped her hand into her pouch holding her money anyway.

“How much extra?”

“None. I added it on for free.”

That made her feel guilty and so she insisted, “Please, Bevin, I can’t ask that of you.”

“You didn’t.” he replied airily, “I wanted to. We’re friends and I’m certain that spell is going to be helpful. Look, Z, it’s ok.”

“Well,” she said reluctantly, “if you really insist, I’ll accept it. Thank you.”


“I need to head out now. I’m patrolling the east quarter of Witherly today.”

“Do you ever actually have a day off?”

Zenalya laughed, “Only in my dreams. Thanks again. I’ll see you later, Bevin.”

“Keep in touch. Come see me when you don’t have something to be enchanted for a change!”

The door closed behind her and the dark elf was back in the streets, bow mounted on her back, the string stretching diagonally across her chest in between her breasts and quiver bouncing on her hip. By the time she made it to the forest, the sun had finally risen above the reach of the horizon and the trees were dancing with the winds song. Zenalya reached into her pouch and pulled out a small black ball, fuzzy with tiny little arms and legs and beady eyes.

“Maellan.” She greeted with a smile.

The small coal sprite responded with tiny chirps and squeaks.

“Let’s get you out of that bag and in the fresh air.”

She set him on her shoulder where he took a tight hold of her tunic to keep from falling. Zenalya took in a deep breath, enjoying the spring breeze dancing on the leaves. Even with this being volunteer work, she greatly enjoyed patrolling the forest and the mountain for it was not work but a time of relaxation for her. It was a nice way to forget the world and its troubles.

Maellan chirped on her shoulder enthusiastically. While the coal sprite could not speak words, Zenalya had spent enough time around him to know what he was trying to communicate most of the time. The elf chuckled and scratched the top of his head with her fingernail and she heard a soft pleased purr come from him.

“Alright, alright, I’m going. The forest isn’t going anywhere, Maellan.”

Zenalya set off at a brisk walk, taking the route that she always used when patrolling this section of the forest. About an hour into her route and her sharp ears detected rustling through the underbrush. At the sound of a potential threat, her green eyes narrowed dangerously and she lifted her hand up to her shoulder.

“Come on, Maellan.” She whispered, “I need to get you out of sight so I can deal with this.”

The coal sprite hopped obediently onto her hand without a sound and she slipped him safely into a hard case attached to her belt, a case that could keep Maellan out of danger but held enough rigidity that it would not crumple beneath her weight should she fall on it. When her little friend was safely tucked away, she drew and notched her bow and then crept forward, slipping easily through the underbrush with practiced ease.

As she grew closer to the source of the noise the sharp metallic tang of blood hung on the air. A wounded animal? Or an intruder? Zenalya hardened her resolve for whatever she may find beyond her line of sight. The thong of her bow grew taut as she pulled it back, arrow poised to fly when released from the restraint of her fingers and in its freedom it would take away the freedom of another living creature.




On her third rapid heartbeat, she leapt through the brush, bow ready to lose the arrow that would strike down whatever threat Zenalya would face. She came face to face with a man, hair wild and matted with blood though it was the color of honey oak and his frame was muscled, strong and he was tall. But he was also heavily wounded, multiple gashes on his frame weeping crimson tears, dribbling onto the verdant grass beneath his shaking feet. The grievous injuries attached a great weight to his back, forcing him to slump over for his clearly powerful muscled body could not muster the strength to lift himself upright.

Many would immediately drop their guard and try to offer aid to someone in such a condition but Zenalya was mistrustful still. She held her aim not just for her own protection but to demonstrate to this stranger that she was serious and should he try anything she would not hesitate to end his life. He held up a hand in surrender, to show that he meant no harm. She did not back down, kept her arrow poised.

“Who are you? What are you doing here?” she demanded in a hard voice.

“My name is Ailbe…” he took a shuddering breath, “I’m…I’m trying to get into Brightfall….Please…”

“What business do you have there?” She demanded, still fixing the bow upon him

“I-“ he coughed violently, a trickle of blood flowing from the corner of his mouth, “I just want to get to safety. Please…I-I’m being hunted…They’re going to kill me.”

She lowered her bow then, an old sense of familiarity pricking at her. Zenalya rushed forward then and slung his arm over her shoulder. Taking him through the gate was not an option for the guards would see. There was one alternative path she knew of that would not pass under the scrutiny of the guards. Zenalya turned them west and navigated through the forest.

She asked no questions. Questions would only bring trouble. As Zenalya helped him into Brightfall, through the broken gate that was supposed to block the way into the old dried river that used to run through the city, she never once considered that she could be bringing trouble already. A single stray cloud overshadowed the sun.

Night Kunoichi
Community Member
Night Kunoichi
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