Our epic journey begins in Bronze Age Ireland.
Ellene is a servant to one of the great Calean leaders.
The Caleans are opening a school for the young from Ellene’s village, but not all of the Caleans want to teach the humans. Some have much darker plans, and the school may be the last chance for peace between the two peoples.
Targeted Age Group:: any age
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I have always wanted to write an epic fantasy story of the scope of Lewis or Tolkien, so now I am giving it a try!
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I don't have a process for creating characters. They just sort of spring up as they are needed.
Ellene didn't feel very special. She wasn't as fair as the other young women in her village, so she often wondered why Janneah had chosen her and her father. It was an incredible honor to serve Janneah, and to live with her under the same roof. The house had three levels overlooking Lake Amarh, and it contained so many rooms, with tall ceilings, and floors made of a curious smooth stone you could slide across like ice. It had three different hearths for building fires, a kitchen larger than the chieftain's entire dwelling, and beds softer than the thickest grasses of summertime. Ellene remembered the little round hut she had grown up in with her father. It was made of tree branches and clay. There was barely room enough for the two of them. Her mother had died in childbirth. The ceiling was low and the floor was just made of packed dirt that froze in the winter and turned to mud in the spring and summer. Compared to her new home she thought the old was better suited for chickens or pigs.
Janneah was a Calean. The people from Ellene's village all thought that the Caleans were Aos sí: the faerie folk, but Janneah explained to her that this was not accurate. Janneah said that she was mortal just like Ellene's people – only slightly different. Even Ellene's father thought the Caleans were Aos sí, and it was easy to see why. Their features were so fine and their hair so long and fair. And their eyes! Their eyes were so bright and green they seemed to glow with a light from the otherworld. They also had a peculiar angle upwards at the outer edges. Calean ears also were unusual. They were very small and round – barely ears at all. Of course the most remarkable thing about the Caleans was their wisdom and intelligence, not to mention their great height! Most Caleans were well over six feet tall.
The Caleans were living by the lake when Ellene's people arrived. Her father figured that they had always been there since the beginning of the world, and Ellene had to admit that it did seem possible. The Caleans were so calm and so wise. Most of them seemed always like the waters of the lake when there was no wind. There were a few who were… more turbulent. Ellene tried to stay away from those Caleans as much as possible. Janneah, however, was the kindest and most thoughtful of them all. She even bore their title of honor 'Laernh.' It meant lady, but in a strange way. To the Caleans the word lady meant that you studied always and were very wise.
In any event, Ellene was certainly not afraid of Janneah, nor of most of the Caleans, regardless of whether they were Aos sí or not. She was a quiet and thoughtful young woman. Had she not come to serve Janneah she would have undoubtedly been married off to one of the loud clumsy oafs from the village years ago. Perhaps it was her quiet nature that caused Janneah to select her. Janneah was always reading and studying, and would obviously not be able to stand a noisy and bothersome servant.
Ellene had been dispatched that afternoon on an errand to her old village. Janneah sent her with seeds for the winter barley crop: another of the Caleans gifts to her people. The sack had been terribly heavy, but Ellene chose to go alone rather than trouble her father with the long walk. His work at the house was already becoming too much for his aging bones. Visiting the village was always an unpleasant task for Ellene. She had been with Janneah for nearly five years. It was so strange how easy it was to forget what life in the village was truly like, and how poor, tiny, and just dirty the place looked. She was glad to turn her back to it and follow the sun west to her real home.
The path leading out from the village was narrow – just a dirt track beat through the brush and high grass. Ellene walked it carefully so as not to ruin her lovely tunic or get too much mud all over her new shoes. She paused for a second. It sounded as if she heard footsteps behind her, but when she looked back she saw only the empty path. Then, when she turned round again, she found that her way forward was now blocked. A horse had come out of nowhere and was standing on the path only twenty paces from her. She looked at it and it looked back at her. The horse's face gave the impression of intelligence, and its boldness marked it as one of the beasts from the village, who were accustomed to being around people. She started to walk towards it with her hands open and outstretched to show she meant it no harm. But then the horse suddenly charged her. She dove into the brush and just barely missed being trampled. When she got up she saw that it was heading back to make another run at her, almost as if some invisible rider was guiding it. She dove aside again. This time, when she got up, she saw that a boy from the village, Ruarc, had come swiftly up the path. He was waving his arms at the horse and shouting loudly. The beast ran off across the field and Ruarc approached her timidly.
Instead of thanking him right away, Ellene first asked, "Were you following me?" Ruarc had always been a shy boy. Now he seemed to be an even more awkward and overly gentle young man. He gazed firmly at his feet and did not reply. She said, "It does not matter. Thank you for driving it off. Have you ever seen a horse behave that way?"
Ruarc spoke softly, "Your arms."
She looked down and saw that she had scratched herself badly in the brambles. Some of the many scrapes on her arms were bleeding. She held her arms out carefully so that she wouldn't get any blood on her tunic. She said, "Thank you again, Ruarc. I must get back and wash these." She turned without waiting for his reply, and walked as quickly as she ever had, west down the path.
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