A lone hand burst out of the rubble of the former Blue Mountain, fingers grabbing for anything to hold onto as he hoisted himself out of his tomb. He panted from the effort and looked down at the small hole that had saved him, the air just enough to help him survive after the mountain had fallen around him. What chaos... and he barely remembered any of it. He held his head as it ached from the sudden rush of fresh air, staring at the rubble of his former home. Everything was gone... what had happened? All he remembered was Lord Voll's death and Winnowill... oh no.
Arien let out an agonized groan as he remembered a bit more, his mind racing to seperate dream from reality. He remembered floating around Winnowill's precious egg, deep in sleep as she supplied him with her own dreams, though some were his own. Had everyone else died as well?
He looked up, the sky clear with clouds floating by slowly, as if nothing had happened below. The wolfriders must have stopped her. He knew they were trying to bring the elves together, Lord Voll had spoken of it at great length at their communal meals together. The sight of children had shocked them all, so long had they been without renewal in their mountain prison.
Now that he had escaped it... what would he do? Were the wolfriders nearby? Could they help him? Would they help him?
He stood, his legs shaky and weak from being entombed for so long. How many days had he been trapped?
He slowly made his way across the colorful stones to the edge of the mountain, falling to his knees on the grass in exhaustion from even that short journey. The others were surely dead under the rubble, he was so weak he could barely walk.
He looked up as a loud screech sounded overhead, the smallest of the great bird mounts circling above him. Blessed High Ones, his Relanir had stayed for him! He let out a loud whistle to her, the bird gliding down further and landing beside him. She touched him with her beak in a bird's way of affection, Arien returning the motion with a soft scratch at the tuft of feathers above her beak. "Thank you for staying for me, Relanir. I would be lost without you." He slowly and painstakingly made his way up the bird's neck to the saddle, holding on tight as the bird took off toward the west.
An entire day they flew, Arien barely clinging to the feathers on Relanir's neck as he weakened further from the day's events. He tapped the bird with his heals in a signal to land, Relanir letting out a loud screech in response and started her circling descent toward the ground. Once she had finally landed Arien slid down her neck, falling to his knees again as his legs gave out from under him. He tried flying, but was only able to hover above the ground for a moment before landing again. He stumbled his way over to a shady spot and motioned for the bird to follow, Relanir settling down against the large stones as he heard waves in the distance. Where had the bird taken him? He had given Relanir no direction, letting the bird go wherever she'd like. Had she taken him to the coast of the Vastdeep waters? His exhaustion made his racing mind cloudy as he leaned back against the bird, his eyes closing in the first restful sleep he had gotten in nearly a hundred of eights.
Hunger awoke him the next day, the slender elf putting a hand against his stomach as it growled angrily at him. He looked around but saw nothing readily available to eat, turning his gaze toward the ocean beyond. He had never fished in the Vastdeep before, surely it wasn't so different as fishing in the lake near the Blue Mountain. He found himself too weak to fly by himself still, so climbed back aboard Relanir's saddle to try his luck at fishing with the bird.
He flew over the water, watching in the distance for human ships as well as surveying the waves for any fish. Were there no fish in this cursed ocean? All he saw was deep blue water for miles around. His stomach lurched again, sending a wave of dizziness through him as he grasped for Relanir's feathers to stabilize himself. He finally spotted a bright flash of red far below, seeming to sit on top of one of occasional flat pieces of coral that seemed to jut out of the water.
He squinted his eyes for a better look, leaning over on Relanir's side to focus as another wave of weakness buckled through him. For one horrifying moment he realized he had lost his grip on Relanir's feathers as he slid off the bird toward the water, crying out in terror. Relanir let out a loud screech of shock, grabbing at him with her talons but missing and only cutting his side open in the fumbled rescue. He fell, fell, fell toward the ocean, watched as the water quickly came closer and only because some instinct in him told him to curl up did he not fall flat on the surface of the waves. He sputtered and flapped uselessly in the waves as they crushed over his head, his glider silks and feathers weighing him down as salt stung his eyes. He only saw the flash of red again for a moment before his sight started to go black, darkness creeping quickly in from the edges of his vision until nothing was left.
He grunted in pain as he was woken up by the stinging agony of the wound at his side, dragging over the edge of a cold smooth surface. He hissed in pain, a grunt sounding out from whoever was pulling him onto the rock that now lay beneath him. Who had saved him? Was it another of his kin, surviving and come to save him? Was it a human? The light above him seemed to blind him when he tried to open his eyes but was only met with stinging sea salt. His head spun as he tried to look for whoever had saved him *Help... please help me, I'm dying...* He desperately sent to whoever was near him, hoping it was an elf and not someone who might mean him arm... though elves could mean harm, as well. He had learned that the hard way.
He felt a hand touch the feathers that lined the top of his collar, the hand grazing down them before leaving him. Who are you? He sent again, hoping the person would answer.
*My name is Skywatcher. You feel from very high in the sky, from a great soarer above the water. You're hurt, my brother is coming to heal you.* The voice answered, a deep breath of relief whooshing out of his lungs that it was an elf. Only... it wasn't one he recognized. He clutched at his side as pain lanced through him again, groaning and trying to turn but only sliding down the slippery rock from his movement. The elf hoisted him back onto the rock with another grunt of effort, her slim hands clutching at his clothes to pull.
*Stay still, you need healing.* She sent, putting a hand on his chest as if to prevent him from rolling again. *Who are you, and how did you ride a soarer like that?*
Arien frowned, the question confusing him. The only elves near the ocean were the wolfriders and the gliders... both of whome would know the answer to that.
He set his hand against his side, squinting through the sea water to see his palm slick with blood. *My name is Arien, I'm a glider from Blue Mountain. My mount... * Relanir will be trained to fly back to shore if something happened to him... birds were not meant to be in water. Normally a rescue party would be formed, but he knew none would be coming for him now. He sputtered as water coughed up from his lungs, the heaves racking his body painfully. "Please." He gasped aloud, not knowing what he was asking, just for some sort of help. He winced as he heard a splash, thinking it to be a wave about to crash over him, only to hear another voice.
"Sky?" A panicked male voice shouted before swimming over, stopping abrubtly. "Who's that?"
"He's hurt... please, don't ask questions for now. I'll tell you after."
A cold hand settled against his side, the warmth of magic flooding through him and slowly taking the pain away. Arien's eyes widened in shock as he realized this was healing magic... something the Blue Mountain had not had for many hundreds of eights. Was this soothing warmth what they had been missing? Winnowill's itching forced healings had been nothing like this.
"High Ones!" Arien whispered when the elf was finally done, taking his hand away. He finally sat up and rubbed the salt water from his eyes to see... could they be elves?
A male leaned against the rock beside him, his skin a bright red and black coloration and he had strange... fins on the sides of his arms. Was that a fin along his back as well? He was dark with jet black hair, his yellow eyes piercing as he watched Arien warily.
He turned toward the other elf, a bright flash of red and gold, her auburn hair was starting to curl in wild locks and her fins were a mixture of bright gold fading to a deep blood red at the tips. She only had fins along her arms, though they were longer and reached from her wrist up to her elbows.
Arien's jaw dropped at the sight of elves so very different from him. Elves from the sea? How was this possible? "Who are you?" He demanded, his energy back as he floated up to his knees to have a better stance on the rock. The motion seemed to shock the two elves, who both moved back from him in surprise as he floated, only to relax as he landed again.
"We are wavedancers. Elves... like yourself." He said, his eyes wide as he stared at Arien still, albiet with more caution than the wide eyed gaze of the female.
"How did you... float like that?" She asked in awe, the voice was the one who had rescued him.
"What?" Arien said stupidly, only just noticing the bare covering she wore on her body, a literal scrap of leather over her breasts and a shell- a shell over her groin. Blue Mountain was so very different from this. He was no prude, but neither was he used to such little clothing on a beautiful elven woman.
"I'm a glider. I can fly using magic." He said, rubbing a hand over his face as shock started to get the better of him. Oh if only Lord Voll had known there were elves in the sea...
"How many of your people are there?" The male elf crossed his arms in front of his chest with a frown.
"Riptide!" Sky glared at him, not liking the aggressive question.
Would this elf abandon him if he knew he was alone? Perhaps it was best to play it safe. "Many." Arien grinned proudly. "And we can all fly, including our great bird mounts."
Skywatcher smiled brightly at that, her eyes glancing up to the sky again. "All have great soarers to ride on?"
"Not all, most just glide on their own. Only the chosen eight and the hunters have bird mounts," He replied, unable to help but grin in response to her wide curious eyes at his answer.
"I just need to know one thing, glider." The male -Riptide- said in a serious tone, moving closer to the rock. "Do your people mean us harm?"
"Honestly... not everyone is out to harm us, Riptide." Skywatcher frowned at him again.
"Nor is everyone meaning well, Skywatcher." Riptide glanced over to her before turning his gaze back to Arien.
"We have no quarrel with you, sea-elf." Arien said, inwardly scoffing sarcastically at how truthful that was. Really what could one elf, half starved and without his mount, do against two sea elves? He was at their mercey. "My name is Arien. I am both scout and hunter for my people." Or was, anyway.
"Then we have no ill will toward you either, sky-elf." Riptide grinned wryly. "As one of the warriors of our pod I must ask these questions."
Arien nodding, understanding the need to defend the other elves that may not be as strong as him. He looked over to the other elf- Skywatcher- feeling strangely drawn to her. Perhaps it was because he had saved him from the deep waters, where he surely would have drowned.
"I am Skywatcher, scout and seer for our pod." Her frills fanned out slightly as she spoke, the motion strange and foreign to him. It seemed to catch Riptide's attention though, and from the frown on his face he didn't like it.
It was at that moment that Arien's stomach let out a mighty roar of protest, both of the sea elves looking at him in surprise. Arien lowered his head in embarrassment at the outburst, hating for others to see him weak.
"I will go get us something to eat. Uhh..." Riptide looked out at the Vastdeep ocean around them, then looked back toward Arien. "Just stay here. Skywatcher will keep you company." He glanced at her one last time before standing on the rock and diving gracefully back into the ocean.
Arien watched the spot he had dove into, seeing a few bubbles float up before nothing arose for many seconds. High Ones, these elves must be able to breath underwater! He had always wondered what was beneath the fast sheening surface of the ocean, so dark and mysterious before him. He looked back up at the elf before him, wondering what other surprises were in store for him today.