Chapter 3: In Which Aria Is Born

Aria was born in the middle of a war. The darkbloods were growing in number each day and without a cure to stop the darkness, the town of Evermore was desperately fighting to stay alive. Her mother, Vaella Longborn, had been living in Evermore for many years, and called Evermore home. She was originally from Mythos, born and trained an Elven Ranger, and was the leader of the Elven Rangers in Evermore. She led the war on the darkbloods, training elves and knights alike to fight back against the darkness, and it was during the war that she met her husband, Eldrin Delavan.

Eldrin was one of many elves that came to Evermore from Mythos to fight the war on the darkbloods. Also an Elven Ranger leader, he fought alongside Vaella, and the pair fell in love, Eldrin asking Vaella to marry him, “I don’t want to wait for this war to be over to be with you forever. Marry me now and give me something to fight for.”

They were on the outskirts of town, one of the barriers having gone down overnight, and Vaella shot a darkblood with her bow, then turned to him laughing, “If you’re asking me that now, you are unbelievable, Eldrin Delavan!”

Kyrah laughed, having completed reinforcing the barrier once more, and stood up, beaming at the two, “How many times have I mentioned that men are bloody idiots?”

Vaella rolled her eyes at Eldrin, then kissed him, wrapping her arms around him, “Of course I’ll marry you.”

It was many years after that that Aria came into the world. She arrived, blinking her eyes open, on a night with darkbloods screaming outdoors, a swarm having taken down the east barrier. Eldrin held his sword out in front of him, listening intently to the darkbloods that drew near. His face was dark with fury, his eyes a dark brown that glared at the window as he tried to catch a glimpse of the event below, his curly black hair falling unruly over his eyes. He swept his gleaming elven cloak behind him as he put his sword away with his other hand, his eyes darting back and forth, sweeping the street as he counted how many roamed freely.

“They’re getting closer aren’t they?” Vaella almost whispered the words as she rested, her eyes fluttering closed. She was exhausted and weak and knew she needed to regain her energy, however, the urge to protect rose almost suffocating her as she held her daughter tight and listened to the noise grow near.

Eldrin cursed in Elvish, looking out the window once more as he saw a darkblood enter a shop, thankful that the day had been over for hours, the owner hopefully safe at home, “Kyrah’s barriers are down again and it is only a matter of time until they come here. They seem to be searching for them again but don’t worry, we would know if they were found.”

Vaella opened her eyes, shakily sitting up, and picked up her bow from the side of the bed, and grabbing her uniform and ranger’s cloak. Eldrin, hearing her move, turned away from the window and in two strong strides was at her side, gently taking the bow from her and setting it against the dresser on the other side of the room, “Eldrin, what are you doing? We have to fight them before more Evermorians become infected!”

Eldrin shook his head although he wasn’t surprised his wife wanted to fight, “We don’t have to do anything. I will go help Kyrah secure the barriers again while you get your strength back,” Vaella looked down at her daughter, a panic rising in her, and Eldrin smoothed her hair down, kissing her cheek, “I know you want to fight every darkblood you can find to protect this town, but you need to rest now.”

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Vaella nodded, no longer able to fight the exhaustion, and laid down once more, trying to ignore her instinct to fight. Eldrin pulled the blanket on top of her, then pulled his sword out once more, slipping silently into the night to track down the escaped darkbloods, closing the door to their home as Vaella fell asleep.

She wasn’t asleep for long before she awoke to a growl and opened her eyes to find a young darkblood standing in the doorway, sniffing the air. It was a young woman, in her twenties by the look of it, although Vaella did not recognize her from town. She had short brown hair that was matted to her grey and sunken head, a mushroom growing out of her cheek, and she wore a muddy dress filled with holes that dragged on the floor as she entered the room, her arms swaying dull by her sides.

Vaella tried to keep her movements slow as to not be detected, then cursed silently, panic rising in her chest as she realized her bow was not by her side, Eldrin had moved it across the room. The darkblood was moving toward the window, away from Vaella but towards the bow, as the noise of a branch tapping the window distracted the darkblood, and Vaella looked down at her sleeping infant, grateful her infant wasn’t making any noise. She silently laid her elven ranger cloak over her daughter completely, concealing her from view, then slipped out of bed, wondering how to get to her bow. She looked at the bow and quiver leaning against the dresser that sat on the wall behind the darkblood, silently cursing her husband for moving their only protection.

Her daughter began to fuss under the cloak, the absence of her mother’s warmth waking her, and Vaella knew she was out of time, “Hey!”

The darkblood turned to face Vaella and snarled before advancing on her. Vaella pushed over the end table, books and a lantern crashing to the floor in front of the darkblood, the glass shattering, and the infant started crying catching the darkblood’s attention. The darkblood, no longer interested in Vaella, leaped over the table towards the crying child, and using her elven speed, Vaella ran over and within seconds had an arrow equipped, shooting it at the darkblood.

The darkblood fell to the floor in front of the bed, dead instantly, and Vaella stepped around her, picking up her child shakily. She stared at the darkblood for a moment, then left the room, running downstairs, and frowned seeing the door wide open, the runes keeping the darkbloods out of their home broken completely.

She rushed over to the door, closing it quietly, but she knew that the darkbloods had all been either killed or forced back into their zones, the barriers slowly covering the town once more. It was again a quiet evening, and she could no longer hear the cries of the darkbloods.

She sat on the floor, leaning against the rough wooden door, and smiled down at her child, almost laughing at the events of her daughter’s first few hours of life, “Welcome to Evermore Aria Tamara Longborn.”

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