“She has learned so much already.” Arilorn, the head tribesman of the Lenoans spoke in low tones to the high druid, Xiliar. They stood perched atop the highest peak of the Lenoan Mountains, overlooking the young woman that was the topic of their conversation. She, in turn, sat cross legged atop a thin pillar near the edge of the open temple, the steep precipice echoing the chill hollow winds below her.
“Yes, she is an astute learner and has mastered much in her nineteen cycles.” Xiliar walked with a soft foot across the broad expanse of the floor, Arilorn turning to follow the druid.
The beauty of the temple dedicated to the wind and sky still took his breath away. Lenoans dwell in mountainside caverns, using a complex system of crystals to spread light into the inner chambers. The temple, however, fills its vast space with the natural light streaming in through the many roofless chambers.
The particular room their subject had chosen is the largest, with its towering columns reaching to the skies supporting sheer blue fabric that caught the sacred winds of the mountain. It was early enough yet that the priests were still installing the curtains in their daily routine.
Xiliar seemed to be lost in a troubled thought as they walked past another chamber where several more priests were about their morning martial arts meditation.
Arilorn looked questioningly at his aging colleague. “Xiliar, you have taken great care to your pupil’s tutelage. Surely you are not concerned about her upcoming journey?”
At this, Xiliar sighed. “Yes, I have watched over and taught Elanai’i all I know ever since her birth fulfilled our greatest prophecy. And that is what I fear.” He stopped his slow studied pace to turn to Arilorn.
“The Lenoans are very pious and severe folk. We have prepared many centuries for this prophecy to be fulfilled, but lately I have come to realize that Elanai’i has only learned that. She excels at martial arts, agility, meditation, and if her destiny was not already laid in crystal, she would be my successor.” He took another moment before continuing, smoothing the folds of the traditional druid attire made with heavy white fabric overlayed with the sheer blue fabric found throughout the temple.
“The Lenoans are in awe of her, and her time here is spent primarily in isolated meditation. While I have come to feel fatherly towards her, the druid’s stoic nature has not given Elanai’i's emotions a sense to develop. It is my concern that this may cause her demise somehow.”
Arilorn recalled Elanai’i's nineteen cycles under his care and acceded to the high druid’s concern. Doubt welled up inside him. “Do you feel we should delay her journey?”
Xiliar shook his head, his long white hair swaying back and forth. “We have taught her what we can, it is beyond us to teach her what she must learn now.”
“Tomorrow morning, then. Let her prepare herself for the journey she was born for.”
Elanai’i opened her eyes to the white peaks below her. Slowly, other senses tuned in to her surroundings. She heard the familiar billowing of the curtains behind her; felt the iciness of the thin marble stool below her; felt the warmth of her blood flowing back to her white fingers.
In the distance the round white globe of the sun began its descent behind the peaks. Soon she would be fed a warm hearty meal to prepare her for tomorrow’s departure, beyond the limits of her people’s knowledge. She turned her head eastwards.
If curiosity had not been taught out of her before she could remember, she would have wondered what non-Lenoans were like; if they also were just and pious people, seemingly frail from the height and thin bodies with skin nearly bleached white as their colorless hair.
Instead, she saw this as the next task to be accomplished, assigned to her merely to be completed. She would utilize all the skills and languages taught over the years to answer the question at the end of her journey.
Without a thought towards tomorrow, she stood, and left the magnificent view of the world behind her.
The next morning, Elanai’i donned her blue hunting cloak, one of her few possessions. It would hold all her belongings in the many hidden pockets sewn into its lining. Its thick hood allowed for her to camouflage into the crystal and granite mountainside; she would have to use her hunting skills to feed herself.
There was to be a brief parting ceremony at dawn, so she packed her dried goods, her few provisions, and left for the statue of A’arus, the great hunter who also protected travelers. His crystal-clear hands held the two weapons the Lenoans treasured most: the staff and chakram. As she made her prayer, Xiliar appeared before her.
“Good morn, High Druid.”
“And to you a blessed journey.” He came up to her and greeted her elbow to palm. “Recite to me the prophecy.”
Elanai’i spoke. “From the mountain high a soul colorless of all races yet bound to all, touched by the powerful, possesses the voice between you and us above, to be earned only through great feats of a harrowing journey beyond. Only then will the true words of the heavens be spoken.”
Xiliar recalled the first day he looked into her silver eyes and the mark that identified her at birth. Hunters had found her along the mountain ridge, not more than two days old.
“Today is the end of your training and life among the Lenoans and the beginning of your journey.” He beckoned her closer, and Elanai’i saw several of the other priests watching in the background. “We shall provide you with three relics to aid you in your quest.”
Xiliar looked up at the statue. “The chakram is the circle of life. We use it to take the life of Lenoa’s great birds that feed us giving us life. Upon A’arus’ chakram is inscribed such scripture.” He reached up and plucked it from the statue, feeling the inscribed crystal with his weathered hands.
“The staff has long provided support and protection for the Lenoans. Upon A’arus’ staff is inscribed such scripture of strength and endurance.” He reached up once again and took down the holy staff. “These two instruments were made with our strongest crystal, and now they shall provide your their strength.” He laid the weapons in Elanai’i's arms and watched her assemble it into her travel gear.
“Our last gift is this.” Looking down, she saw he was holding something in his weathered hands. A cord hung with a small crystal glimmered in the breaking dawn light. “This crystal holds the prayers of the Lenoans and will guide you on your journey.”
Elanai’i bowed her head then slipped the crystal beneath her tunic. It was cool against her skin as if it brought the winds.
“Thank you, High Druid. I shall return with the true words of the heavens.” She held her arms up, palm to palm with Xiliar. She turned from the temple and made her slow descent through the village. No one spoke to her as she past, but she felt the eyes of everyone on her dark shape.
As she approached the edge of the village, she raised her hood and walked towards the unknown.