173/366 – Within the Osoburn Timberlands

Day 31 of 100 Word Prompts: Religion

The sun reached its apex high above Dylian as he walked a deer trail through the Osoburn Timberland. Agnescious heed and hawed at him from behind as the donkey’s lead tugged backward.

“What is it, bud?” Dylian asked, turning around.

Agnescious pulled again, looking back the direction from which they had come.

“I know, bud. I miss home already too, but we can’t go there. The Baron will come and try to hurt us if we stay there. We’ll come back someday, I just need to get a little stronger first,” Dylian said, scratching the donkey behind the ear. Dylian’s stomach growled loud enough that Agnescious looked down. “Yeah, maybe we should stop for a break. Are you hungry too?”

Agnescious’ head bobbed in reply as he began to chew nothing.

“Alright, I’ll take you off the lead, but you should stay close, okay?” Dylian said.

Agnescious heed once more in agreement as Dylian removed the rope on the donkey’s harness.

“Be careful, buddy. There are wolves in this forest. Stay close to me, okay?” Dylian repeated, unsure if his companion was going to sprint back toward the farm.

Dylian watched as Agnescious bowed his head and began smelling for berries or edible mushrooms around the small clearing in which they stood. The donkey wandered through a patch of brush and walked into the woods in search of food. Hearing the movement of his companion gave him enough comfort to satiate his hunger.

Setting his bag on the ground next to a fallen log, Dylian fished a wrapped bit of food from inside and began to eat. The meal wasn’t large, but the dried venison, hunk of cheese, and crackers were enough to stop his stomach from being angry with him.

“Excuse me,” a melodic voice said from beyond the treeline, “is this your donkey?”

Dylian watched as an elf stepped from between the trees, luring Agnescious with a branch of wild berries, which he ate greedily. The elf wore a beautifully woven tunic and pants that seemed to catch and reflect the light, giving the impression of rainbows scattered across pure silver. The elf’s pale skin looked smoother and finer than any that Dylian had ever seen before, and their face was framed by beautifully flowing golden hair.

“That would be Agnescious, my trusty steed,” Dylian replied. “Thank you, friend. I hadn’t realized that there were other people around here. I hope he didn’t cause you any trouble.”

“No trouble at all,” they replied, handing the berries entirely to Agnescious. “I just didn’t want this creature to suffer an ill fate from some of the predators here in the timberland. I’m Ailre, by the way.”

“Dylian Pondspar,” Dylian replied, holding out a hand to shake theirs. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“What brings you so far into the Timberlands, if I may ask?” Ailre asked.

“Are you from around here?” Dylian asked.

“The forests are my home, yes,” Ailre replied. “Why do you ask?”

“Well, you see, I lived on a farm about half a day’s travel from here. Some bad men showed up and killed my father, but I survived,” Dylian said, looking to the ground.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” Ailre replied. “What of your mother?”

“She died not long before,” Dylian replied.

“You have had a poor run of luck,” Ailre said, shaking his head. “I’m so sorry. May Corellon bless your journey.”

“Corellon?” Dylian asked. “You know who Corellon is?”

“They are the Mother and Father of all us elves,” Ailre replied, with a sad smile. “Without them, we would not exist.”

“I need to find them,” Dylian said.

“You need to find Corellon?” Ailre asked.

“I need to find them to get stronger. I need to avenge my father’s death at the hands of the Baron,” Dylian said, standing up with his hand on the pommel of his sword.

“I think that you’ll find that your goal is harder than you think,” Ailre said. “The gods do not normally visit the material plane. Though I think I may have a solution for you in any case.”

“What’s that?” Dylian asked, sitting back on the log.

“You should travel west of here, far from this ‘Baron’ and the power he wields. Kinia has many places which you might train, then there is the Heyles Empire beyond their borders,” Ailre suggested. Dylian watched as Agnescious walked over to the elf and nuzzled them affectionately. “I think your donkey here may want some more berries.”

Ailre moved their hand in a swirling pattern, producing another branch filled with plump berries of reds, purples, and blues, then held it out for the Agnescious to enjoy.

“How did you do that?” Dylian asked, pointing to the branch.

“Fey magic,” Ailre replied with a shrug. “I don’t want to discourage you, but the obvious human blood running through you may make such a trick near impossible.”

“Oh,” Dylian said, sinking into his seat.

“Don’t let it discourage you, however. I believe Corellon has something great in store for you,” Ailre said. “You may want to visit a temple or two in your travels.”

“I’m not much for religion,” Dylian admitted.

“It’s not about religion. This is about where you come from more than anything. You should know and accept your past as well as your future,” Ailre said with a smile. “I will take my leave of you now, but I wish you safe travels under Corellon’s watchful gaze.”

“Thank you for your wisdom, and for feeding my steed,” Dylian said with a nod.

“Remember to embrace your fey ancestry and take pride in yourself. Not all elves will look at you with the same favor as I, but take comfort in the fact that Corellon leads you on your journey,” Ailre said as they turned and vanished into the trees.

Agnescious walked over to Dylian and nuzzled him. His breath smelled of sweet berries and herbs.

“You ready, buddy? I think we have a long journey ahead of us,” Dylian said, looking to the west. “Where do you think we should go?”

Much to Dylian’s surprise, the donkey moved westward on his own rather than toward the farm. Dylian walked alongside his companion, occasionally running his hand along its back.

From beyond the wood line, Ailre watched and smiled at the traveler. Though Dylian wasn’t aware of it, they could see Corellon had touched him at least once, leaving a mark only faithful followers of the Archeart would recognize.

“How strange for a halfbreed to be touched by you, my lord,” Ailre whispered. “You saved that one’s life today in your wisdom. I hope whatever you have planned for him is worth his trespassing into our wood.”

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