Lasswen Leithianoneth, an elven adolescent of only twenty-four, tilted her head listening. When she concentrated she could just make out the sound of two sets of padded feet prowling on one of the many nearby trees. Please don’t see me. Not again, just go away. Lasswen shifted slowly in her niche inside of an ancient tree’s corpse trying to get a better view of the only opening above her.
Lasswen’s breathe halted as her elven ears picked up the sound of a soft impact followed by the same prowling gate of four padded feet on her tree. He’s going to find me! What am I going to do...? I know I never should have trapped myself in here. Resigning to her fate Lasswen clenched and unclenched her fists and rose to a crouch. Listening and searching for the silhouette of her predator to come into view the elven girl smirked.
“Quel fara!” Lasswen cried as she leapt from her hiding spot. Whirling around in a flurry the elf could not find what she knew had been making the smallest of sounds just moments ago. “Aww, come out. You already found me. I heard you on the tree.”
From between her feet a familiar voice rose, “But I am in plain sight Aier.”
Staggering back a few steps along the fallen tree Lasswen sat down hard. “How do you do that!” she exclaimed questioningly.
The figure before her could only be described as a small white and blue-gray spotted house cat, but with the wings of a snow owl. Its tail looked very much like a normal domesticated cat’s tail except it ended in a small puff of fur and a small array of pure white feathers. The cat-owls are called tressym.
“I found you Aier,” the feline’s tail played behind him as he spoke, “As per our agreement you are obliged to procure our evening meal.”
With agility above average for even an elf Lasswen stood and scooped the tressym into her arms. “A'maelamin you know I’ve told you to stop calling me Aier. I’m twenty-four and I’m not small anymore! And you always find me and I always have to make dinner” With a friendly nuzzling the girl carried A’maelamin as she jumped off of the ancient log and headed back to her home.
A’maelamin arose from a light nap in the noon sun atop an elven cottage. Stretching from head to tail the tressym took in his surroundings. Hearing the call of his charge, A’maelamin took wing and ascended to the top of a nearby tree.
From atop the same tree Lasswen greeted her life long friend as he landed on her branch. After a short silence the young elfling spoke in a serious voice, “Cirion has left again. He said that he would be back in a couple days.”
With a knowingly nod A’maelamin responded, “ I already know Aier, you should know by now that Master Lavanseron always informs me of his comings and goings.”
“Did he tell you where he was going and what he was doing?”
“Of course he did.”
Lasswen pulled her arms against her chest, fists just below her chin, and with the best puppy-dog eyes she could muster the girl begged, “Please tell me A’maelamin. I’m tired of just staying here waiting for him! I’m almost an adult! I want to help Cirion if I can.”
The white cat’s tail twitched playfully as he stood and began to walk away along the branches length. He replied without looking back, “Aier, we’ve had this talk before. You know it’s better for you to stay here in the forest with me until Master Lavanseron says that you are ready.” Reaching the end of the branch the winged cat leapt into the air and landed on a parallel branch of the neighboring tree. The elven girl’s expression fell to depression and her arms fell limp to her sides.
A’maelamin turned around intentionally excruciatingly slowly. The cat’s canines gleamed in the sun as he gave a feline smile. “However, you do have a point about your coming of age. I will make a deal with you. If you can take one of the feathers from my tail I will tell you anything you want to know.”
Lasswen’s eyes widened and a smile exploded from her mouth. “Really? A’maelamin! You mean it!?” Her friend had never lied to her, but the elf girl had never been able to get any information about Cirion Lavanseron’s dealings from the feline before.
“However!” A’maelamin’s expression suddenly deadly serious, “You must promise me on your life that you will not try to help Master Lavanseron until he asks for it. For acting on this knowledge could very well forfeit your life.”
Taken aback for an only a moment before Lasswen’s youthful brashness got the better of her the elf vigorously nodded.
The wind howled through the trees as Lasswen approached the foot of a mountain. The moonlight filtering through the trees fell around the earth-color clothed elf. She carried on her back supplies hastily packed and somewhat excessive. In addition to her supplies she carried a light hunting bow. She moved steadily, but lost in thought.
Doubt came and went from Lasswen’s mind as she traveled steadily towards her destination. She knew she was doing wrong by breaking her promise to A’maelamin. On the other hand Cirion had been gone for nearly a week longer than he said he would be. For months Lasswen had been content to keep it a secret that she knew where the elder elven druid had been going and a general idea of what he was doing. Mostly because it was never anything dangerous. At least not dangerous for an elf like her Cirion.
This was different. Her caretaker had never been away for more than a day more than he said. Lasswen couldn’t help but think that something horrible must have happened, and she was determined to go and find the help that her tressym friend had said was unnecessary.
Stunned out of her reverie the elfling realized an eerie silence had fell over her surroundings. Her hunting training kicked in and she immediately crouched and knocked and arrow while she took in her surroundings.
Had it not been for the wind her ears might have heard the pair of footsteps that had been trailing her for the last several hundred yards. If she had been older she might have been able to resist the attackers enough to get away. If she had stayed with her guardian then maybe she would not have been taken into the underdark.
Countless bodies of drow men laid scattered about a small underdark outpost. Some mangled by tooth and claw, others impaled by shards of ice, and most had flesh seared off by extreme heat. There was not a living drow within several hundred yards.
The oversized creatures responsible for the mess rummaged through the bodies. Some looked for food; others looked for a trace of Lasswen by their master’s bidding. In the middle of the menagerie of creatures stood a regal elderly male elf. The elf’s head hung low as his friends told him they could not find anything that could help him discern her location. Master druid Cirion Lavanseron had begun to lose hope.
From the ceiling of the cavern descended a very worn out and disheveled A’maelamin. “Master, the one we let escape has nearly reached the next outpost. They will begin scrambling within an hour or so.”
“Thank you Kherek-hurro’, let us leave this filthy place and return to camp. There is no sign of Las… of Aier.” The elderly elf shifted his wait onto the staff he carried and focused his mind for a brief moment and then his body changed form into a swift flying owl. At his beckon the party of creatures followed him the best they could.
Once they reached camp Cirion returned to his elven form and sat down with a sigh. “Kherek, how long has it been since we started looking for Aier?”
“Almost twenty years Master. Why do you ask?” A’maelamin did not like the tone in which his master had asked the question.
“I ask only for confirmation on my count.” Turning to the cave’s opening that served as tonight’s camp the druid cast a spell and the opening to the cave closed. “Get some sleep friends. Tomorrow we have much work to do again.” The elf got up and went from creature to creature healing wounds when needed, and he talked to each one as a long time friend. When Cirion had finished he returned to A’maelamin’s side and stroked the feline a couple times. “You did well today,” he whispered, “But tomorrow we will try something different.”
As the druids words faded into the darkness the tressym drifted off into an almost magically deep sleep.
A year passed before the elder druid Cirion Lavanseron was summoned by the other druids. Unable to refuse the summons Cirion brought his group back to the surface and set off leaving his companions to disperse to their normal routines. With nothing better to do A’maelamin accompanied his master.
The other druids told Cirion that he was not permitted to continue his fruitless search for a girl who was most likely dead. It was not that the druids did not want him to find her. They simply did not want the drow to start retaliating with the kind of persistence of brutality Cirion was giving to them. A drow raid every now and again was controllable, but if the drow decided they wanted vengeance for the hundreds of their slain brethren then the high elves would be the ones who would have to fend them off.
Dishearten the elder druid Cirion conceded defeat and vowed to the druids that he would stop and return to his forest. A’maelamin would not have it. The tressym still blamed himself for her disappearance, and he had sworn all those years ago that he would not stop looking until he found her. Though he was grateful to his master for the awakening bestowed upon him, A’maelamin could not help but feel Cirion had given in to easily.
In the next few weeks the tressym slowly stared to distance himself from Cirion, and he would stay away for long and longer periods of time. All in hopes that when he finally left to look for Lasswen on his own the winged cat would be able to get a good distance away before his disappearance was noticed. Finally, the night came when A’maelamin decided to sneak away with nothing but a small roll of coins. He was not a stupid tressym he knew he would need companions to continue looking. So he started for the nearest large city to either put together a group of adventurers or infiltrate one and steer it towards his goals.