My memory begins within a storm. I close my eyes and I still see it, swirling clouds and bitter driving rain with waves big as mountains. I hear it too, the shrieking of the wind, the roar of the water, the agonized groans of the ship, and the sound of chains snapping, of metal sliding and slamming against old wood.
I remember a cage, a door falling open and crawling through like a trapped animal being set free. Something was missing, I had to find it. The hull filled with water as I searched, frantically through box after box, the storm had taken its dues from the ship, shredding it like paper in its anger and fury.
I eventually sloshed through waist deep water to the stairs leading to the deck, scrabbling up them and trying not to fall as the ship pitched back and forth tossed about on the waves.
I fall forward onto the deck. Dozens of bodies rushing to and fro, men and women shouting in terror as they are flung into the sea, others trying to hang on and weather the storm through until the end...but the ship is lost, the masts are breaking and the sails tattered rags already. There will be no salvation from the rage of the storm.
I see all this and yet I do not see it as I stand and my eyes find a figure standing away from the others, gripping the wheel and shouting orders that are ignored by the panicked crew in a vain attempt to keep control.
The captain of this ship. The jailer. The Betrayer.
I have found what was missing.
My skin, my face, my life.
It was a seal’s pelt...MY pelt! The captain wore it like a coat! Draped about their shoulders and keeping them from the rain. Rage boiled through my blood. Like some twisted version of skinning an animal, they stole it from me! Staggering with the rocking ship’s movements, I charge without thought, taking the captain by surprise and tackling them over the side and into the water below. We struggle for desperate seconds, I manage to wrestle the pelt off them, but it slips through my fingers, lost in the churning void that surrounds us.
My breath will not last, wildly I tried to remember which way is up. Everything is black and fury, battering and slashing as the storm roils the sea around me. My lungs squeeze tight around the stale air and I gasp instinctively, filling my mouth with sea water. I kick and flail and scream in horrified dread, only making my situation worse with my struggling.
I do not know where to go. I do not know what to do. I am going to drown.
The thought fills me with a sudden stillness, a quiet calmness, as I am forced to confront the inevitable; I am going to die.
The acknowledgment is almost cathartic, to drown is not a pleasant way to die, but it is a strangely peaceful one.
As the last of the oxygen is leached from my body, I close my eyes against the swirling black of the stormy waters, embracing the new and serene darkness of death.
I gasp awake, sitting bolt upright and looking around as the vision fades and grows fuzzy around the edges. What was it about? I feel like I’ve forgotten something important.
Broken bits and pieces remain; a storm, a cage, something lost. But everything else is a blurry mess, I cannot recall what happened, how I got here.
Where is here?
Wide-eyed, I take in my surroundings, strange ruins of grey stone and greenery. A cool, gentle breeze buffets my face and I smell only flowers and the burgeoning spring on the air.
Where am I?
A small fire crackles nearby, a man with pointed ears tends it. He looks up at me and smiles, calling a greeting and inviting me closer. He answers my question; I am in a place called Templehelm, a valley called Planu Heath.
His name is Nazor, we chat a while and he asks my name, I open my mouth to say it. My name, it’s on the tip of my tongue...and then it’s not. Suddenly it’s gone and I cannot speak it because I do not know it.
Who am I?
I answer honest that I do not know. I have forgotten.
“We’re of the same kind,” he comments at one point.
Are we? What am I?
I reach up and touch my ears, the sensation of the delicately pointed tips feels wrong somehow. Yet, it must be right. But it feels wrong, these ears, these fingers, and toes. I feel like I am simply wearing a costume, one I cannot remove. But...it is my skin I wear. So it must be right. A pointed ears, an elf. It is wrong...but it must be true.
He invites me to travel with him and I accept. I have nowhere in particular to be, nowhere for me to call home. This man, Nazor, seems kind and friendly. I will travel with him a while, perhaps I will find my name and my memories along the way.