My heart pounded in my chest as I ran, scared and alone, through the unfamiliar trees that stretched out forever above me. I slowed down for a moment to catch my breath and I realized that I couldn’t remember why I was running or who I was running from. I looked over my shoulder to see who might be chasing me and found nothing but tall green trees and bushes which didn’t seem as frightening as they had a few minutes before. I wasn’t sure who I expected to see chasing me but I was sure there had been someone there before.
I wandered for awhile until I reached a small stream and stopped to think about things.
Who would be chasing me? I’m just a little girl…I’m only…I’m…who am I? I thought to myself. I sat on a large rock and put my feet into the crystal clear stream washing off the dirt and wet leaves that clung between my toes.
I closed my eyes and thought hard as tears began to fill my eyes. The sounds of the trickling stream flowed through me and carried away the fear that clouded my thoughts.
Who was I running from? I asked myself again and squeezed out another tear from between my tightly closed eyelids. A sudden vision flashed through my mind like a bolt of lightning and for a moment a face looked down upon me; the face of an elf with deep green eyes and raven black hair.
“Who are you?” I heard myself ask the imposing figure that looked down upon me.
“Sa’mayel,” he whispered, the sound of his voice echoed through my mind and carried away on the soft breeze.
A shiver went up my spine as the last of my memories slipped away from me and I began to weep again.
Rustling leaves and breaking branches quickly brought me back to my senses. I ducked behind the large rock that I had been sitting upon and peered around it to see a vision that I was sure I had never seen before; how could a person forget something so wonderful?
An elf walked along the stream bed in the distance and paused for a moment to rest. He brushed his long golden hair aside and leaned down to the stream cupping his hands and drawing the water up to his lips, staying vigilant as he watched his surroundings. Deep blue eyes scouted every inch of the landscape around him as he continued to drink. His eyes stopped as he looked in my direction but only for a second before moving on. Slowly his hand went to the bow on his back and I knew I had been discovered.
I leaped out from behind the rock with my hands out. “Stop, don’t hurt me,” I cried.
He had an arrow nocked so quickly that I hadn’t seen him take it from the quiver at his waist. He relaxed his bowstring and placed his arrow back into his quiver as he came closer to me. I let out the breath that I had been holding and lowered my hands as he put away his bow and got to his knees in front of me.
“Where did you come from?” he asked in a kind voice.
I shook my head. “I don’t know.”
“What’s your name?” he asked.
I opened my mouth to speak but the words wouldn’t come to me. Tears welled up in my eyes and I covered my face, ashamed at how easily I wept. I felt his hands on my wrists, gently pulling them away from my face.
His eyes were full of compassion and empathy for me and I relaxed, surrendering my fate to the grand elf that knelt before me.
“Please help me,” I said.
He reached out to me and wiped the tears from my cheeks. “My name is Arridor,” he said and brushed my hair back behind my ears. He frowned for a moment and then his face softened. “You can come with me if you wish. I live close by, in a beautiful white forest.
I nodded but couldn’t speak. I felt choked with the pain that wrenched at my heart but didn’t know why. Something horrible had happened but I couldn’t remember any of it.
Arridor pulled me to him and I fell into his strong arms finally realizing how exhausted I was. He hefted me easily off the leaf littered ground and carried me the short distance to the beautiful White Forest; he asked me to wait at its entrance until his return. He explained that the forest was full of magical energy that could kill me if I entered and so I obeyed and sat upon the large stones that jutted out of the grassy plains that surrounded the forest.
Evening came and as the pale blue moon began to rise on the horizon Arridor returned, just as he had promised he would. He reached up to me on the large outcropping of stones and I took his hand. A look of irritation was splayed across his face and for a moment I thought it was for me but he smiled as he noticed the look on my face.
He whispered as he helped me down. “Don’t worry, everything will be alright. These men are our elder mages and we need to speak with them before you can enter.”
I nodded and listened to him speak to the two old men that had followed him through the forest.
“Master Habik, this is the young girl I told you about. She seems to have lost her memory and I’m going to try and help her to remember. She’ll come live with me until we find her people,” he said with determination.
The elder mage lowered his hood revealing his aged face and long gray hair. “Arridor, you can’t bring her here! She’s not an elf, the forest will kill her,” said the old withered elf whom Arridor had called Habik.
Arridor knelt down on one knee and put his arm around my shoulders. “I feel something about her, she’s different,” he objected.
“Different? Yes, we can see that; she can’t be more than ten years old and her hair is as white as snow,” exclaimed the second mage, “and look at her eyes, they pierce me to my very soul. I don’t even think she’s human.”
Arridor stood up straight and held himself confidently as he took my hand. “With all due honor, Master Braycas, she’s just a little girl and she’ll be coming with me into the forest. I’m not asking for permission.”
The mage’s face turned red as he pointed at Arridor. “Her blood will be on your hands,” he exclaimed. He swiftly turned his back and began to walk away.
“No, my blood is mine,” I yelled.
He turned slowly and looked at me with contempt in his eyes but I had made up my mind. I had no memory of who I was before, but I knew I was going to do whatever I pleased now. The mages held their tongues and disappeared into the forest.
Arridor turned to face me and put his hands on my shoulders. I looked into his deep blue eyes and saw honesty and kindness; his eyes were full of love and compassion. He took my hand and we started preparing for my first encounter with the deadly forest.
“The White Forest sings for us,” he explained, “It’s deadly for all but the elves who live here.”
I reached out and touched his ear and then my own. “How am I to enter since I’m not an elf?”
He pointed at my heart. “I feel something inside of you, and I know your will is strong. I know you can do it because I have faith in you.” His confidence was reassuring and his voice was magical. Listening to him speak was like listening to a cascading waterfall; powerful and soothing. I closed my eyes and let his voice wash over me.
“Teach me to hear the music,” I whispered.
Two weeks went by before I was ready to enter the invisible boundary that held intruders at bay. Arridor said focus would be important when we entered the forest and that I would face an indescribable pain deep inside of my core. It would be a challenge to overcome but his confidence in me made me strong.
“The song is deadly, Sweetheart. If you can’t focus and become one with the forest it will kill you,” he warned in his soft voice,“Are you ready?”
“Yes.” I was eager to see my new home.
How could it be possible? I thought to myself; trees don’t sing.
I put my hands up to my ears as we entered the shimmering forest, and looked up at Arridor. “The trees…they sound like…wind chimes,” I said to him as my head began to ache.
Like thousands of silvery coins dangling off of each branch, the leaves glistened in the bright summer sun.
“Yes, but you must focus. We’re just entering the forest and it will get much more difficult to withstand,” he said.
“It’s…it’s…I’m…” was all I said before falling to my knees in agony. My head ached as if it were being split in two.
I thought I would go insane with the din of the unwelcoming forest. There was no music; it was only chaos, and it was destroying my mind.
“Focus and feel the music; feel the harmony of the music…don’t block it out, let it flow through you,” Arridor pleaded as he looked into my eyes.
I took my hands off of my ears and listened, focusing on the sound that he called music. His eyes were penetrating, strong, and so beautifully deep blue, like the sky at dusk. The forest’s musical opus began to vibrate inside of my chest and mind and for a moment I thought I had grasped the song and then the pain surged through my body once again.
I felt Arridor’s arms engulf me and hold me safe against his chest. “It’s alright, Sweetheart…focus, just focus,” he whispered.
The hours passed as the forest assailed my body and mind. Relief came slowly as the forest let down its guard against me and revealed its music to my soul.
That day the White Forest became my home and Arridor became my Father.