You Give me the Creeps

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      Emmelyne watched the exchange between Raven and the red cloaked stranger. Though Raven's reaction was hostile, she sensed nothing outwardly dangerous about the stranger. He was quite intriguing to her magical eye; the magical veins of dragons breath seemed to flow into him.. making up his figure. He was, in a way, connected to the seams of Dragons Breath.

      "..I'm guessing now that you have some questions for me, please go ahead and ask them." The stranger said. Before Raven could respond, Emmelyne stood up.

      "Sir Blind.. May I speak with my.." Emmelyne pondered briefly on what exactly she considered Raven. A friend? They had known each other only a matter of days, but she felt a strong bond with him non-the-less. "..companion alone for a moment?" The stranger nodded, stood and walked a good distance from the Elf and young man. Raven turned to her.

      "Do you know something I don't?" he asked sharply.

      "I don't think we should fear him. His life source is the magical veins binding Dragons Breath, he wouldn't dare harm a pendant bearer." She sheathed her staff in it's shoulder harness and ran her hand through her travel ruffled hair. "I trust him. And I'm glad he's here, maybe he can provide some much needed answers." Raven eyed up the stranger in the distance suspiciously, glanced at the massive sword embedded in a nearby rock, and then looked back at Emmelyne, his sword still ready in his hand.

      "Are you sure? I don't trust people sneaking around like that.. And just look at the guy!"

      "I'm sure.." She told him firmly, making her way past Raven to where Blind stood. Through her eyes, he appeared to glow and pulse. She lowered her eyes as she spoke to him. "Sir Blind.. I know what you are.. and I trust you." She almost whispered. "Please, help us in our journey." A bit astonished by the elf girl's behavior, Chaos Devil simply nodded. With a snort, Raven sheathed his sword and glared at Blind, clearly visible over the elf girl's diminutive frame.

      "Well, now that Emmelyne has welcomed you with open arms, what's next? Do you know what the next move is?" Raven asked with a smirk.

      "Well, actually..I'm just supposed to train you. That's all I really know.." Blind replied.

      "And I'm supposed to listen to you? I can learn more from Emmelyne.." He stated, waving a hand in her direction. She blushed slightly at the mention of her name. "..than I can from some witless blind guy threatening to hack us up with his over sized sword."

      "Raven!" Emmelyne hissed, glaring in his general direction. She mumbled quick apologies to Blind and turned on her travel companion. "Just trust me!" She exclaimed.

      "I trust you.." I have to.. His eyes slid from her to the blindfolded stranger. "But not him."

      Emmelyne's brows furrowed together as she glared at the blond man. She pondered for a moment, biting her lip. "Fine. We'll camp here. Figure out what to do next." She stated, Blind nodded in agreement. "Do you have a tent? Blankets?" the Elvin girl asked the dark cloaked figure. He took the girls hands, thanking her for her kindness, but refused anything she offered. Raven watched, eyes narrowed. The guy just gives me the creeps.. he thought.

      He was awoken from his thoughts by a small hand placed lightly on his forearm. Emmelyne looked up at him, cornflower blue eyes willing him to trust her. "Could you start a fire? I'll find something to eat." He nodded. She turned back to him, eyes searching over his face before she jogged off into the forest. And now she's doing it.. giving me the creeps.. He shrugged off his thoughts and cleared an area for a fire, placing rocks in a neat circle. Chaos Devil watched on in silence. He better not start telling me how to do this. Raven thought.. and was greeted only with continued silence. Okay.. he's still giving me the creeps.. Raven glanced up at the dark cloaked stranger, brushing one of his wing-like locks from his brow.

      "Go get some fire wood or something, will you?"

      "What a sour character you are, pedant bearer." The dark cloaked figure responded. Raven bristled, turning towards Blind, his hand on his sword hilt.

      "And what an arrogant character you are." Raven spat back. Blind chucked, and the blond boy winced. It was an unearthly sound, reminding him that he wasn't exactly dealing with an ordinary human. Me and my big mouth he thought.

      "I don't like you, you don't like me." Chaos Devil stated. "Works for me. Something tells me that I'm going to have to humble you before you listen to me though.." the red clad figure mused. Raven clenched his jaw, drawing out his blade. He liked the feel of the hilt in his hands, the supple leather bound around cool metal. He shook his head and pushed the sword back into its encasement. What am I thinking, drawing my sword on another person.. or thing.. or whatever.. Blind smirked at the boy, and Raven grinned back.

      "I know I really shouldn't hit a blind guy, but, you aren't technically blind are you?" He snarled as he swung at Blind. He expected to feel an impact, a bone jarring impact.. and instead found himself spitting dirt and moldy leaves out of his mouth. "Ergh.." He grunted, sitting upright.

      "Too much force, no real skill. You let your emotions rule you." Blind told him.

      How did he move that fast? I know I should have landed that blow.. Raven thought, tonguing his cheek where he had bitten it. He glared up at Blind, his blue-violet eyes glinting with barely controlled rage. Blind reached down to help him.

      "You've made your point." Raven pushed Blinds offered had away from him. "Get away from me, man. You give me the creeps!" Raven muttered, going back to work on his fire. "And get some fire wood, would you?"

She has a part of me..

      Emmelyne returned, her arms brimming with berries, a large potato-like root and a small rabbit. Her eyes sparkled mischievously as she caught sight of Raven relaxing by the fire, leaning against a log. Blind wasn't far off, cleaning his impressive weapon. "I've brought dinner!" She announced, completely oblivious to the two men's obvious lack of interest in conversation. She shrugged. "I'm going to the creek to skin the rabbit, Raven, would you mind rigging a spit to cook it over?"

      Raven grunted a reply and went about looking for materials. A spit.. I know what it is.. how to make it? Why does she assume I'd know this? He shook his head, looking at the different twigs outside the little clearing, trying to find something that would work. He returned to the campsite a while later, triumphant, only to find Emmelyne happily turning a roasting rabbit. "Thanks Raven, but Blind already rigged one up nicely."

      Raven muttered under his breath and threw down the branches to return to his place by the log. Blind was seriously getting on his nerves. He looked to the petite girl, and his mood lightened. She hummed lightly to herself, a tune he knew. He listened, trying to catch a few more notes. Yes, I know that song. Naomi loved that song..but how?

      "Emmelyne, what are you humming?"

      She looked up, a faint smile traced her lips. "What?" She asked, flicking a blue braid over her shoulder.

      "You're humming a tune, what is it?" He repeated.

      Her brow furrowed momentarily as she thought. "I don't know.. just sort of popped into my mind."

      Raven nodded, frowning. She has a part of me.. he thought somberly. A part of my memories.. my mind. Still somewhat unnerved about the whole situation, he felt oddly comforted by it as well.

      "Why do you ask?" Emmelyne's soft voice woke him from his thoughts.

      "I know that song." He replied leisurely.

      A wide-eyed realization hit the girl. "O-oh.." She stuttered. "I'm sorry.. its one of your memories, isn't it?" She sighed heavily. "I'm so sorr.."

      "Stop it!" he interrupted her. "We've been over this once." She nodded, remembering how he'd silenced her earlier apologies.

      Silently, she went back to work, humming another tune this time, one she knew Raven had never heard. It was an Elvin lullaby.. one her mother would sing to her. She remembered those hazy childhood days fondly. The canopy of massive trees was the sky to her, endless rows of trees her playground, and the ethereal kadamo her playmates. She pulled the small knife from its sheath on her thigh, and cut off a small piece of the roasting rabbit. Stuffing the small piece of meat in her mouth, she gestured to Raven to bring his plate over.

      They ate in silence, Blind watching the two from his perch upon a rock. Raven would glare in his direction every once in a while. Emmelyne bundled up the left over food, hardly touching her own. The way her eyes would travel mournfully over the trees, Raven could tell she was fighting every instinct pulling her home, to the depths of this enchanted forest. She paced along the edge of the clearing, her eyes studying the darkening trees. A smile tugged at the corner of his lips as he noticed her long Elvin ears twitch at the occasional sound.

      "The forest calls to you..doesn't it?" Blind's voice rang lightly through the quiet clearing. Raven glared in the cloaked man's direction once again. I ALMOST forgot you were there.. He thought to himself. Emmelyne turned, nodding lightly. She ran an unsteady hand through her hair, letting it linger on the back of her neck.

      "It always does.." She replied, turning to face the blind folded entity. "You feel it too, don't you?" She asked timidly.

      "The forest calls for her children to help her..She is weakening.." Blind stated, listening to the soft hum of the world.

      "I'm trying.." she whispered, barely audible, sinking to the ground. She wrapped her arms around her knees and stared into the fire. The blond man looked from the Elvin girl to the cloaked figure seated smugly on a rock. What did you go and do that for? He wondered angrily. Like she needed to hear that..

      The blind man turned his head towards Raven's angry glare. A sudden chill washed over the young man, knowing that somehow, this cloaked man could peer into his very soul. He looked away, still feeling the blind man's unnerving gaze upon him. His thoughts returned to the Elvin girl once again, who was rocking slightly, her arms wrapped around her legs, huddled in a tight ball. Her round, pixie face was buried in her knees. Raven groaned inwardly. "Em.. you okay?" he asked, standing. She nodded, never raising her head. He knelt beside the Elvin girl, not quite knowing what to say. Don't cry.. he thought. I can't believe that blind guy made you cry..

      "I'm scared, Raven." She whispered, raising her eyes to meet his. Not a tear marred her features, but her eyes were filled with a torrent of emotion. "I don't know what I'm supposed to do..." She took a deep breath and sat up straighter. She placed a hand over her heart. "It aches to be here. To feel the forest struggling." She shook her thick mass of short sandy hair and stood. "I'm sorry", she mumbled and went to her pack to fish out her sleeping bag. Raven followed in suite, tossing the blind man on the rock another glare before settling into his sleeping bag.

"Just some weird memories and stuff."

      His sleep was filled with haunting dreams of an emerald eyed, flame haired girl.. dieing in his arms.. that's not how it happened! His mind struggled against the dreams. He reached for her, her very essence seeming to slip through his fingers. He looked into those eyes once more before she vanished.. but wait.. Naomi's eyes were green.. he thought, looking into terror filled, cornflower blue pools. Then girl melted away, seeping into the ground below him.

      The empty scenery of the dream world began to fill with dark, looming trees. Between their branches he could see dozens of red, glinting eyes. He stood, reaching for his sword hilt. Finding the sword gone, he looked around for some sort of weapon. His eye caught sight of a light in the distance.. and voices.. he heard human voices. He followed after the moving light. A long procession of ethereal figures whispered quietly to one another, their voices musical, yet cold. At he head of the procession, two figures, their heads bowed, walked a short distance from the rest. The man, a youthful looking silver and blue haired elf, reached for the woman's hand. The tiny woman with auburn hair adjusted the sandy blond child on her hip, and took his hand. The little girl looked up from her mother's shoulder, large blue eyes searching the forest. A chill washed over Raven. Emmelyne..

      They lead couple stopped in a large clearing with a massive oak tree as the centerpiece. Rays of spinning light emerged from the large tree, lighting the entire clearing. A large beam settled on the Elvin man, woman and child. The petite woman let her child slide from her hip, and pushed her behind her legs, shielding the girl from the intense light. She then turned to the Elvin man. Raven could see her lips move, though from his hiding place, he couldn't make out the words. She then knelt, kissed her daughter's tear-streaked cheeks, and dropped a thin gold necklace over the girl's head. With a motherly smile, she turned, and never looked back.. she simply walked into the light, absorbed into the pulsating glow.

      Raven awoke then, sitting up in shock. He looked around the campsite, searching out the Elvin girl. Instead he found only Chaos Devil practicing with his massive sword. Just the person I wanted to see.. he thought bitterly, rolling up his bag. "Where's Emmelyne?"

      Blind brandished his sword a few more times before answering. "At the creek..washing up, I believe." Raven nodded curtly and sauntered off to find the girl.

      The Elvin girl sat on one leg, while the other trailed in the water, her bare toes beginning to wrinkle from the moisture. She sighed to herself, enjoying the warmth of the hot spring immensely. "Emmelyne?" Called a voice from the trees. Emmelyne pulled on her pouch covered vest and stood.

      "Over here!" She called back. Smiling to herself, the girl picked up her long leather boots and gloves and skipped across a few rocks to greet Raven on the other side. "Good morning." She said, skipping bare footed across the rocks and boulders by the creek bed. The blond man stepped gingerly over the rocks.

      "Hey." He responded, his thoughts still on the strange dream. Raven went down to the creek side and splashed some water on his face. Emmelyne plopped down on a rock and began pulling her thigh high boots on.

      "There's.. a.. hot spring.. over there." She said between tugs. She stood up, stomping her feet into the heels, and folded down the top of her left boot, exposing the wicked little dagger sheathed to her thigh. "There." She stated, and began pulling on her long gloves.

      "Geesh.. ornate enough outfit you got there?" Raven asked, rinsing his mess kit off in the cool, clear running water. Emmelyne shook her head, droplets of water flying from her hair.

      "It's efficient." She replied.

      He chuckled. "Is that why your hair is so short? Because it's efficient?"

Emmelyne of the Forest of Illusions
Character & Art © Shannon Jones

      "Something like that." She muttered, fingering one of the two long blue locks that framed her face. "So.. how'd you sleep?" She asked, getting up to leave. "You were tossing and turning earlier.."

      "Strange dreams.." He replied. She turned on her heel and looked back at him.

      "You too?" She asked, eyes narrowed. "What did you dream about?"

      He stood after collecting his mess kit. "Just some weird memories and stuff." He avoided her eyes as he walked past her to the camp.

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