Prologue - Fated Meeting
I was dreaming of a world. A world in which the thing said most often was 'I love you' and not 'I hate you'. Granted, I am an idealist. I am a dreamer. I am just a person and I think I don't even have the right to criticize this world. What do I know of the troubles other people have? Do I even care? I wanted to care, but I didn't actually do. In a way, I was the most cruel person. Do you like a person who feels with you, but forgets you as soon as you're gone? Probably not. And that's what I was.
This is just the truth about how shallow a seemingly deep person can be. I dreamt, but didn't do anything. I failed to act. At least, up until now. I realized what kind of a person I've been and now it's time to act accordingly. I believed in my dream of a pretty world full of love, but that bubble has burst.
Along with the bubble dream, Eíssa Dirmaion Asmolásir, the pretty girl and wife, has died and Eíssa Dirmaion, the widow, was born. I am changed for the better.
The weather was as usual in Solfatia, the country whose nickname aptly was "the Marshlands". A thin rain fell down, not enough to make you worried about getting soaked, but nothing to ignore, either. Eíssa lifted her hood a little to have a better look around. No one on the road, as expected. Not many people in Solfatia cared about traveling on the unsurfaced streets. They were muddy and all the time it would feel as if the road itself was trying to eat your shoes. Eíssa hated it. It was strenuous and slow, but she just didn't want to meet many people and this was the best way to go about that. There would be the occasional farmer leading cattle out to the pasture, but no one else. Perfect for a thief to leave the country. She would find the nearest river boat landing and from there, she'd just go wherever she felt like going. It wasn't like she had any sort of plan.
As she thought about how nice it would be to visit some Emdian bazaars again, another solitary hooded figure travelling in the opposite direction came into sight. It would have just been the off-chance traveler, if it weren't for the long sword the woman carried and the fact that she appeared to wear armor under her brown coat. Eíssa also noticed a strand of long silvery hair coiling out from under the hood and while they neared each other, the other woman unsuspiciously examined her. Eíssa's left hand unconsciously coiled around the sheath of one of her two short swords as the other drew closer. She couldn't be out to capture her, but you'd better not take chances. When they finally were in talking range, the woman addressed her.
'Um, greetings, fellow traveler,' she said in a nervous voice.
That could be interesting, Eíssa thought as she stopped and regarded the other woman with a smiling nod. Eíssa had to look up to meet the gaze, just like she had to with most other people.
Now that she could look her in the eye, Eíssa realized the woman's eyes were the same color as her hair, just a little darker shade of silver. Those colors were so unusual that Eíssa immediately felt some sort of a bond with that woman, for Eíssa herself bore eyes of a strange color: Her right one was blue and her left green.
'Are you lost?' Eíssa asked and cocked her head, which made her seem even more like a child next to the tall figure of the other one.
The other one just sighed and looked around. After a while she said 'Actually, yes, I am. I've only had very vague directions regarding the way south to Anduria.'
'Anduria, the Country of Light?' Eíssa asked with a raised brow. 'You wanna travel there all by yourself and more so, by foot?' Eíssa let out a short laugh. 'You'll still be traveling next year if you continue like this.'
Eíssa just got an apologetic look. 'You see, I don't have the money to buy a horse-'
'Who needs horses if there are river boats? We'll be in Anduria in no time if we take one of those!'
The other woman shifted her weight. 'We?'
'Oh yes, we. You're looking so lost, I decided to accompany you. My name's Eíssa, by the way,' she said and held out her hand for the other to shake.
'Mine is Celebiel. Celebiel Lunaris. Pleased to meet you,' her newfound companion replied and took her outstretched hand.
'Right. Now that we've got that settled, I'll show you the way to the nearest pier.'
Celebiel seemed at a loss for a moment. 'Uh, thank you very much, Lady Eíssa.'
Eíssa just dismissed the thanks with a short wave of her hand.
The glowing orange ball of the sun was beginning to set just behind some hills in the distance and Eíssa was beginning to doze off in the back of the river boat when Celebiel woke her again.
'Say, why would you wish to accompany me on my travel to Anduria?'
Eíssa kept her eyes closed and just replied 'I happened to be bound in the same direction as you. You appear to be a very religious person and Anduria's capital, Berilis, is a place of pilgrimage after all.'
Eíssa could just hear Celebiel's soft breath beside her as she thought up a reply.
'How do you come to the conclusion that I am religious and on a pilgrimage?'
Finally, Eíssa shifted, opened her eyes again and pointed at a wooden medallion depicting a crescent moon Celebiel wore around her neck. 'That's the holy symbol of the Moon God, Rithum, Creator of the Elves. Considering the fact you're an Elf like me, I think your religion is quite obvious, don't you think, dear?'
Celebiel looked down, her face glowing red with embarrassment. 'I- I guess that's true. I'm sorry.'
'Though,' Eíssa said as she settled back down, 'I wonder why exactly you're travelling to Anduria. Don't you know that every religion except Belísme's is banned there?'
Celebiel sat down a few strides from her.
'I fear you wouldn't understand if I told you. But, I am indeed going to Berilis. And your reasons are?'
Eíssa smiled for a second. 'Well, I am a goldsmith apprentice and I'm looking to find a new place to learn at in Berilis. It seems we're gonna travel together for a bit, then.'
'Yes, that we'll do,' Celebiel said, her gaze locked on the sunset, so that Eíssa could study her profile.
In the orange light, her hair looked like a flow of molten silver and Eíssa couldn't help but admire her.
She's just what I need, what I've been looking for all these years.