Copyright 2013, Steven R. Burke
Chapter 1 - The Island
A solitary figure’s hair flared out behind him as the wind slammed into the island. He was a man of considerable size and had a stoic look as he stood as if rooted like a tree. It was not clear just how old this man was or what his current disposition. The wind clearly had no effect on him as he looked out toward the open sea. Storm clouds swirled several miles offshore as it approached the tropical island. The Mairi Sea began to heave in response to the approaching disturbance. Bits of debris began to swirl around the statuesque figure in the surf. None of this seemed to interfere with whatever it was he was looking at.
The sun disappeared behind the angry clouds as the storm made landfall. It was only then that the man turned and walked back into the tropical trees. The man did not hurry or even bother to pull up his cowl as the rain and wind began to ravage the island. After a short time of walking nonchalantly, he came to a small cave entrance that was on the side of a small rise in the center of the island. His course altered as he headed toward the dark hole. As he was about to enter, he looked over his shoulder and smiled in the same direction he had been staring. Then, his body shimmered like a mirage in the heat of a desert and disappeared into the hill through the cave entrance.
The rock wall that the mysterious man entered no longer had a cave entrance visible. It was as though it had never been. The storm raged for hours over the small island in a way that seemed to defy the laws of nature. After an hour or two, the storm should have moved on. It was as though it was being held in place in order to maximize the level of destruction. The lightning strikes started fires that were quickly put out by the deluge of rain.
Inside the only hill on the island there was a massive cavern some hundred feet high. Light filled the entire room as though it was from the sun even though there was no opening to the outside. There were bookshelves built into the stone walls which were filled with ancient books bound in leather. There was a section where scrolls were stored in cylindrical slots in the wall. There were comfortable reading chairs scattered around the cavern with blue lanterns. There were stone tables sporadically spaced on the floor.
The red haired man who had just entered the hill walked slowly into the room with a large leather bound book that fell open as he sat down. He turned pages until he found some complex spells that dealt with permanently changing one’s appearance. His red hair clashed starkly with his dark skin. Hidden beneath his long mane of hair were pointed ears. Looking past the hair, he looked very similar to a dark elf. The dark elves were not the most trusted race in the lands of Tuwa. This was knowledge that he had learned from his time spent in this most unusual library.
As he was reading, he began muttering to himself. Slowly, his eyes changed from a gray to a brown with red mixed in. After a minute of chanting, he closed his eyes. He did not open them for a few minutes. When he did look up, the new color had taken hold. The dark elf was going through the painful and extremely dangerous method of changing his appearance permanently. He blinked furiously as though something was stuck in his eyes.
“I am still not used to the hair and now you have gone and mucked with your eyes” Sheri’dam said with disgust. She could not get used to her husband’s new look. She was proud to be what she was. In Tuwa they were mistakenly referred to as dark elves. In their homeland on the other side of the Mairi Sea they were known as the High Eldar. They were actually related to the Eldar of Tuwa though darker in skin because of their living in the high altitudes of Mount Hacu, the highest point in all of Zurkian.
“This is not Zurkian my love, we are associated with those vile dark elves that are wreaking havoc on middle Tuwa because of our appearance. We must alter our appearance to make it safely to Renshaw Forest. Are you still refusing to change your look?” He gazed at her with a soft look that did not quite have the same effect when his eyes were gray. His eyes just looked too weird with brownish red eyes.