Elian Thorin Donovan
An Elf out of the woods...
Elian is a somewhat reserved and almost morose Elf, resulting from decades upon decades of living amongst human civilzations and the many losses that come with it. He has watched helplessly whilst many of his friends have aged and died seemingly before his eyes. With no elven family left to guide him or help him cope with his loss, he has become somewhat withdrawn, adhering only to the idea that if he carries on in the manner in which his lost friends led their lives, then perhaps they aren’t truly gone.
The abridged history of Elian Thoril Donovan
My parents were scholars of history and archaeology who became quite good friends with Professor Lorrimor over the years. He consulted with them many times regarding his studies and adventures. Even on the rare occasion in which he would entertain small groups, he would invite us to enjoy our company. On occasion he would even invite just the three of us over for dinner.
Being young I would, of course, run off exploring when I had my fill of the adults conversing. Never to get into too much trouble, but just enough to make my parents uncomfortable. The professor was a relatively young man at the time, even by human standards – poised to make his mark on academia… but people could already sense his brilliance. As a young man, marriage and children were the furthest thing from his mind. Perhaps that’s what engendered his forgiving nature when it came to my behavior. He would always laugh at the things I would get myself into to let me know he wasn’t angry, even as my parents would glare at me.
I always enjoyed our visits, which became more and more frequent. Apparently there was quite a bit of excitement at the prospect of some discovery. The location of some lost boring building, or tomb. Who knows, really? Who can understand why adults find such mundanity intriguing? My parents told me one day that I would be spending two whole months at the Professor’s home. It took a good while for my excitement to quell so they could explain that none of them would be there. I would stay there with a caretaker while they went off on a grand adventure. Finally, something INTERESTING, and I couldn’t go???
My disappointment was palpable, but I begrudgingly accepted my fate. The professor promised me it would be boring, and that nobody would have any fun at all. That helped a little, although I was sure I would have had fun.
They said their good-byes and time went by quickly at first. So much to do, and see – and with such little supervision! But after a while, time began to drag on. In my boredom, I began to watch and learn about the people in Ravengro for the first time. How hard their lives were. How it sometimes made them selfish and cruel.
I was watching one day as a hungry child begged for a mouthful of food from a travelling merchant going by on the main road near the professor’s home. He merely pushed her aside. The look on the young girl’s face was heartbreaking. It wasn’t just her sorrow that struck me… it was her acceptance that it was all she would ever know.
Before I could even make 10 steps to offer the girl some bread, a slender, cloaked man appeared from seemingly nowhere. He went up to the merchant and struck up a brief conversation. While the merchant was distracted, the man removed an item from his cart with a grace that would impress most elves. I barely caught it myself.
By the time I got to the girl and handed her a bit of bread, the man had already handed her a golden apple. He was walking away when I called after him, asking him how he had done that. He just turned and winked, then disappeared into the crowd. I was fascinated by every aspect of his graceful nature. Not just how he had so skilfully dealt with the merchant, but also how he made it his purpose in that moment to correct a wrongdoing where the law would have ignored it; how he risked imprisonment or worse to help a random child he had never met.
It became a game for me to spot him in the following weeks. Whenever he knew I had found him in a shadow, or saw him pilfering, he would shoot me a knowing glance and give me a brief acknowledging salute.
I had enjoyed that summer so much that I had nearly forgotten that the professor and my parents had gone. That is, until the party returned. Or half of them, anyway. When I didn’t see my parents, and I saw the way the professor looked at me, I knew the worst had happened. The previous events of the summer, the jumping from rooftop to rooftop, the exploration, the games… they instantly seemed a lifetime away. As the professor walked up to me, the world slowed to a crawl. I don’t even recall what I had in my hand, but when I dropped it, it seemed to take an eternity to reach the ground. Finally the professor reached me. The experience was surreal. My mind wouldn’t accept it. But somehow he managed to impart to me that there had been some kind of ambush, and that my parents, along with most of the party, hadn’t survived.
He seemed to feel personally responsible. My parents weren’t adventurers and had no business exploring ruins. But he allowed them to travel with the group anyway. The extra security forces he had hired allowed some of the party to survive and escape, but many perished – including my parents. He took me in as his ward, and promised to look after me from that moment on.
Professor Lorrimor was always kind to me – perhaps more so than he should have been. In many ways he became a second father to me. He tried to raise me in the ways of academia – even teach me some of the arcane mysteries of the world. As much as I tried to be interested, I just couldn’t. The sudden death of my parents haunted me. It made me more restless than I had been before. I felt as though an academic life would have amounted to sitting there and doing nothing in response to what happened.
Shortly after the death of my parents and the return of the professor, I went to sit on the professor’s rooftop to collect my thoughts and try to make sense of the world. It had become one of my favorite spots. After several hours of quiet contemplation, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It startled me so much that I almost fell from the roof – and may have if a pair of hands hadn’t grabbed my shoulders to steady me. It was the man I had spent my summer watching – although up close I could tell that it wasn’t a man at all, but rather a woman who had disguised herself to appear more mannish.
She reassuringly calmed me and sat down beside me. She asked what was wrong, but I could tell she already knew. I remained silent for a long time, and she sat there with me patiently. She somehow seemed to know what I was going through – that my world had just collapsed around me. She told me her name was Mara as she handed me a golden apple. It was all I could do to hold myself together.
She asked how I had seen her so many times. I was a drowning boy, and she was throwing me something – anything – to grab hold of. We spoke for a long time. I asked her why she dressed as a man, and she told me that sometimes in this world deception was necessary. I asked her why she was telling me all of this, and she told me that more often honesty was necessary. In all the ways that Professor Lorrimor had become a second father to me, Mara became a second mother.
I split my time between the professor and Mara. The professor was an extremely busy man, so he rarely would notice if I went missing. Or perhaps he knew full well what I was doing and was fine with it. Either way, I eventually found a way for the world to make a modicum of sense. I learned as much as I could from both of them. I learned a basis of arcana, historical knowledge, and alchemy from the professor. Although I begged very often, he refused to allow me to go on any expeditions with him. Mara, on the other hand, felt it was necessary for me to experience the world and learn how to navigate it. She taught me everything I wished to learn about her ways. How to move in the world without being seen or heard. How and when to deceive and use misdirection – and most importantly, why. She taught me how to defend myself. How to sneak up on an enemy unseen. How to avoid them entirely. How to engage them if necessary.
I made many friends as I grew up. I knew many of the professor’s acquaintances, contemporaries, and students and would often while away the hours with some of them. I also got to know several of the locals. Many were not willing to accept my elvish heritage, but some had a generous and accepting nature. I became an apprentice, of sorts, to the apothecary – which was the professor’s idea. I worked hard in his shop, and learned a good work ethic. I went from simple cleaning to gathering herbs to assisting in the process of making potions and salves.
I inherited my parents’ estate, and when the professor felt that I was old enough to live on my own, he allowed me to move there. I would still visit him often and continue my studies when time permitted. I asked him many times about the day my parents died, and he was always reticent to speak any further on the subject. He insisted that I not reopen any old wounds, and would quickly change the subject. I was certain he was just looking out for me.
The most difficult part of being an elf in a world of humans, though, is that you outlive them. My friends would grow up, marry, have children of their own, and all too often, die young. The professor and Mara had grown old as well. Mara passed on two winters ago. It was just her time, I suppose. I owed them both a great deal for what they had done for me, and I made it up to them in all the ways I knew how – but mostly in how I lived. I had come to accept the reality of death, and always remembered the kindness of the strangers who had helped me understand life. It was in their honor, and in honor of all those who had touched my life, that I would live mine.