My story starts long before my birth, though I won’t bore you with many details. My mother is a gifted healer, Lady Alisandra Stargazer, daughter of the elven king, Lord Quinn Stargazer. My father is Joel Rinn, a soldier from the human town of Jolzin. They met when our people joined forces to fight orcs that were raiding the towns near the Gherdian Forest. It was love at first bandage.
The love story did not end with elven mother, human father, and half-elf child living happily ever after. Before my mother even realized that she was with child, my father was carried into the infirmary, bleeding profusely from a wound to the stomach. She fought to heal him, but could not keep him from dying. In his final hours, he professed his love for her and described the orc that wounded him – a young fighter named Grorthuk with a deep scar across his forehead and large ruby studs in his ears.
My mother named me Joelle after my father. She tells me I have his eyes, his intelligence, his stubborn attitude, his sense of humor. From her, I have the gifts of wisdom and insight. But while she was always drawn to the healing arts, I have always been intrigued by arcane power. Why wait until people need healing to be useful? Why not prevent injury with a strong offense?
Being the half-human child of a single parent wasn’t an easy life, but my mother had her plans for me. She set me up as an apprentice in the library with her brother, Ayin. I picked up reading and writing easily. Because the other elven children weren’t particularly interested in me due to my “human attitude”, my friends were the dusty tomes of the library. My fingers were always dry from flipping page after page. Ayin never answered my questions; he would just point me to another book. Of course, there were books in all sorts of languages. Not wanting to miss anything, I learned Giant, Dwarven, Draconic, and Primordial in addition to Common and Elven.
By the time I was 12, Ayin began to teach me simple spells. In a year, I grew tired of tricks like warming soup, lighting candles, and making trinkets appear and disappear. Ayin was wary of teaching me more difficult magic “so early”, but when he saw how quickly I mastered spells, his curiosity got the best of him. Soon I was able to manipulate all sorts of elements, my favorites being fire and thunder.
When I was 19, the orc tribe decided yet again to try to take what was not theirs. At the head of their legion was Grorthuk, the one who killed my father. They were 100 miles away near the human village and we knew that if we did not band together to fight that ours would be next. My mother and Ayin were among those called to the battlegrounds. I begged to fight, but my mother mandated that I stay with her in the infirmary, helping tend the wounded. Carrying bandages and administering potions? It was insulting. The battle raged just outside and all I could do with my talents were petty parlor tricks like cooling towels for those with raging fevers or mopping blood from the floors.
Luckily, it didn’t last long. The great leader of the orcs, Grorthuk, had been slain by a young human warlord. My mother wept at the news. “Twenty years I have waited for this justice,” she sobbed. “We must meet the man who did this for us.” A messenger from my grandsire arrived just then, bowed to her, and said, “Lady Alisandra, your father asks that you and your child to come to him at once.” It irks me that the elves always refer to me as a child. As a half-human, I was an adult at that age. I had the mind of an adult, the body of an adult, and the talents of an adult. But I understand that by elven standards, I was (and am!) still in my infancy. I held my tongue.
We arrived at my grandsire’s temporary great hall, a large tent erected in the woods. Archers still patrolled in a circle around it. The guards at the door bowed to my mother and briefly nodded to me. We entered and walked to the front of the hall where my grandsire embraced us both. “More than twenty years of suffering is over,” he said, wiping a tear from my mother’s face. “Stay, and let us meet the young warlord and his men.”
The men processed into the tent, most of them dirty-faced boys not much older than myself. Their leader, also quite young, had unkempt dark hair and dark eyes. He looked distracted, as if he had never been in the presence of elves before. My grandsire spoke of their bravery and how we hoped to repay them for ridding our people of the orc warlord who had slain so many of our soldiers.
He asked each man what he would like as a token of our gratitude. Their leader had his head bowed and appeared deep in thought, so deep that when all his men were done with their requests, he did not realize we were all staring at him awaiting his answer. Surely he must be preoccupied because a warlord so skilled to take out the leader of the orcs could not possibly be this slow-minded!
“Sir,” he said, finally, “I’d request to join your army to learn about your ways of fighting.”
A wave of surprise washed over the crowd, but my grandsire seemed tickled by the idea. He called me to his side and said, “Joelle, this young one reminds me of your father. Since he killed Grorthuk, I think that fate has put him in our path.” He then turned to the warlord and said, “Young man, your request is accepted. You have two hours to pack everything you want to take with you and say goodbye to your friends. Then we leave with or without you.”
I looked the young warlord up and down. Like my father? My mother always described my father as though he were a great hero from a bardic tale. This boy, despite his recent victory, just didn’t look bard-worthy. Nice arms, toned, much more muscular than elven boys, but still not bard-worthy. Why my grandsire spoke of the fates, I was not certain. Either way, human or no human among us, I was eager to get back to my studies with Ayin.
Coming soon… look for Part One of Andric’s side of the story, as written by Hybban.