Naiara: Chapter One - The Huntress

Written by RenScotson

Chapter One - The Huntress

The year 491 of the 4th Age during the 8th month of Geminus,
and the final days of summer for the region of Zephyrus.

Naiara gazed up at the night sky in solitude as she rests in the strong arms of an aged oaken tree, pondering what her purpose is in this life, not knowing she would forever change the fate of her friends, her family, and her people.   She was caught off-guard by the agile approach of a mighty thundering storm coming in from the far mists of the western ocean, now known only by the Riftmists. If not for her steady perch, she would have fallen from the tree, not just her rest and daydreaming. Fortunately for her, the violent storm also rattled the nerves of the foul goblins camping nearby that she had been tracking and then followed through these dense dark woods for nearly a week.   These goblins were small mischievous creatures that were preying upon the many animals the dwelled in the Silvaboreas, the dense northern oak, and pine forest of her homeland of Zephyrus. Naiara and other members of her order, the Vigilate, kept these goblins and other threats at bay upon the borders of their realm. How these particular goblins made their journey so far within she attributed to blind luck, as they were not hiding their tracks at all.   The prowling invaders were startled by the encroaching storm as they skittered in the darkness of the forest, and began looking for a better shelter that their poorly made camp would not provide decent cover from the rain. They were not intelligent enough for tents, nor did they take the time to make lean-to or any other kind of sophisticated shelter. The hidden ranger suspected they were hunters, scavengers, or scouts providing for others of their tribe, perhaps lurking nearby in a burrow or cave. Each moment she watched and waited brought her closer to discovering its exact location.   There were five of the goblins, one female lead the way showing some experience, but was unnerved at their current situation. This reinforced the elf's thinking of there being a colony nearby, as these goblins seemed to be used to the dark underground than the illuminated surface. Something must have made them desperate enough to come to this forest, or their expanding numbers required it. This did not seem to be just a coming of age ritual for the new hunters, as they were gathering everything they could scavenge, from an elk to squirrels and their droppings.   The storm's fury raged above, like a ball of lightning suspended in the air as it drifted slowly to the northeast. The powerful storm was of arcane magical energy, a phenomenon from the western ocean's mists and fissures that divided the world long ago. The priests of the Divine say it is a display of the magical might from Morkel, the Lord of Magic.   Rain slowly began to fall, and Naiara slowly lifted her wings to cloak herself. She was a Caelumani, a sky elf, gifted with wings from the Lady of Air, Asadela, and they were the Stormlady's children with the most talented of them chosen to serve in her floating citadel and for the battle against the terrors of the Void.   The storm flashed and boomed overhead, as a goblin carrying the carcass of an elk trailed behind the others nearly lost his balance. The creature stopped as he spotted the shadow of the elf's wings due to the sudden illumination of the storm, dropping the elk's remains as he raised a spear and pointed at Naiara, surprised. She did not hesitate and glided down to the forest floor, firing an arrow at the one that detected her ten yards away before she landed on the ground.   She missed. The arrow flying just past the spearman's shoulder, it's whistle sounding like a hawk's piercing cry before hitting a tree nearby. The goblin began to panic as he dropped his spear as he turned and ran away, with two others joining him in his flight. Another horrid goblin threw a javelin and got lucky, nicking her left arm and poking into her wing. He quickly received an arrow in the right bicep, which severed the tendon of the creature. It fell to the ground howling in pain, as the leader of this group charged screaming with her spear. Naiara dropped her bow, and deflected the incoming thrust of the spear with her right hand, pushing it away from her, as she retrieved her trusty hand axe, and hacked into the side of her attacker's head, cleaving it from ear to throat.   The panic goblin tripped over one of the roots of a nearby tree, his vision in the darkness having difficulty with the dazzling brightness of the thunderstorm. He quickly rose from the ground, looking around terrified as he heard his very last with the whirling of an incoming axe, whacking him in the neck.   The huntress recovered her axe and sighed as the other two fleeing goblins were already a fair distance away. She returned to the injured and prone goblin that was holding onto its bloody forearm and spoke to it in its crude language, "Where do they flee away to? How far and how many?"   She knew the monster could understand her, seeing it ponder its words carefully as it hesitated to speak. It was on the verge of losing consciousness, and she did not want to waste any time tracking the remaining two down or to be troubled by deception and misdirection. She mercifully ended its life by quickly removing its head with her axe.   Naiara cursed her luck as she examined her minor wound, thankful the weapon wasn't coated in poison. The spear was made with a crude stone head, and other than the scratch on her arm, it did not pierce her feathered wing. She retrieved her arrows, both of them beyond reuse but still evidence of her presence here. She was trained by the Vigilate to deceive the enemy and to turn them against each other, and in place of her arrows, she left broken shafts belonging to Orcish archers that troubled them far to the south.   The arcane storm was passing, allowing her to track the last two fleeing goblins in the cover of night, hopefully straight to their vile lair.  
  For all her years in the high mountains with her family, she has felt more at home on the ground, traveling the tall grassy plains, rolling hills, and dense, lush forests. But still, every time she'd look up at the sky, she'd be filled with sadness and regret on things that were out of her control. She was born with brown-grey patterned wings with feather tips ending in copper, just like the color of her hair. But these wings did not develop strong enough to do more than allow her to glide safely to the ground, despite her frail thin yet athletic frame.   The dawn of a new day approached, and she had just finished tracking the two remaining goblins to a dank cave where they took refuge to avoid being seen by her patrolling kin. Naiara kept vigilant at the entrance of the cave from a safe distance. She found herself sitting once again in the limbs of a tree, its leaves, and branches providing sufficient cover for her to watch and rest.   They had traveled north of Lake Shawen bordering the Silvaboreas forest, and they were now if the hills of the northwestern ridge of the Chiontoch mountains. She had previously thought the goblins were from an old ruined watchtower to the north where a lair had been already. The ruined lookout was adjacent to the neighboring arctic lands of Glaciaeris, where her wingless snow elven cousins dwelled, or so she had been told, she had never met one nor has her people heard from them from some time since the giants awoke and started causing trouble.   She tightened her fist on her precious axe, for she hated giants. She remembered being paralyzed in fear, almost six years old when they came and destroyed the city of her birth, Stelladomus. She still remembered the sounds of her home crumbling, as the roof above her was collapsing. That was now over one hundred-nineteen years ago. Most of her extended family perished that dreadful day.   Now that she thought about it, this was the closest she has ever been to her home. It was still over a hundred miles away, lying just on the other side of the range of mountains in front of her, the tall peaks are known as the Chiontoch mountains or the Snow Wall. Hopefully, she would see her city restored one day, but she knew it would not be any time soon, while the giants still threatened them from the north.   And to the southwest was her haven, she could see it towering far in the distance from here. It was the giant maple-leaf oak of Druiarbor, a shelter of the Vigilate considered to be haunted by an old druid spirit. Her mentor Elyithon knew better and left it to her to keep safe as well as any other rangers that might visit. Not that any ever did, nor did she encounter any spirits there. She had no issues with the place despite the lonely solitude, but she felt unusually safe and secure, and she couldn't begin to explain why.   Naiara's thoughts of the past and her home were interrupted. She heard the dying squeals of a bat, its death screams echoing from within the cave. The goblins were feasting on the vermin within, and the two that she followed here must have joined up with others. She was uncertain of how many were with them, and she wanted to be sure it was a significant threat before calling for aid.   Through the night, she began to sense something else accompanied them, however, and it had a terrible growl, a beast of some sort that she could not identify. It had left no tracks, nor had any scent that she could find amongst the tracks left by the goblins and their stench. More concerning, however, was that she now believed the goblins were bringing it something to feast on rather than just themselves. Its horrible bark seemed to indicate it commanded its minions to act, rather than the goblins trying to tame the creature.   She fought against weary sleep as it approached the evening of the very next day. She had been watching and waiting, and it had begun to take its toll on her. She did not feel comfortable dealing with this unknown threat alone, with too much uncertainty about what might rest within.   She climbed down from her hiding place in the tree and pulled a small mirror from her belt pouch and directed the sun's light towards the south. She was looking for a patrol in the mountains, maybe a gryphus rider or a fellow ranger. She stopped, seeing something in the distance, flying away from her. She hit her mark and noticed a golden light reflected back towards her, the golden armor of a paladin.   What was an armored paladin doing patrolling out here, she wondered? Typically they did not leave the mountain citadel of Caelumarcis alone, waiting until scouts reported back of significant threats for them to deal with together. The nearest haven was Sedorsum, a settlement high in the hills just where they mined for iron ore and quarried the granite. She found it strange for a member of the Palatinus to be possibly visiting such a remote location.   She brushed herself off of dirt and dust and tried her best to straighten out her neck length dark copper hair from in front of her face. She has been tracking these goblins for quite some time and did not expect she might need to make a good impression to one of her honored kin. Her previous encounters with members of the Palatinus had been brief, as they are disciplined holy warriors and champions of the sky elves, eligible for serving the Divine if so chosen. Something Naiara once aspired to be selected for.   The paladin landed gracefully in front of her. Naiara was surprised, as she didn't expect to be looking almost at her own reflection, as standing in front of her was a younger elf in gleaming armor in the sun's dying light. Her hair a lighter copper than her own, and tied back into a high ponytail. The paladin's eyes, dark brown garnets, were looking inquisitively at her own blue zircon colored eyes. It had been too long since she had seen this familiar presence, and the huntress became nervous and yet filled with dread.

Version Three of my draft, and written using the pro version of Grammarly.


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Uht Ceara
18 May, 2020 07:02

So overall really enjoyed this, there's some great stuff going on. You present an interesting and proactive character which are key in grabbing reader interest. I really enjoyed the fight scene, it was detailed enough to not be ambiguous, but not over-detailed to the point of distraction. I particularly appreciated the way you handle the physical descriptions in the final paragraph, in especially the use of the jewel names to describe eye colour, it adds to the ethereal feeling of the angel-like creatures. Aside from that, here are a couple of things i noticed: A) Worldbuilding: You've obviously done a ton of worldbuilding and know your world inside out. Just be careful not to present your readers with too many proper nouns and explanations in the first chapter. It makes the learning curve really steep and can overwhelm the reader. While you obviously want them to understand your world, you don't want let them know too much. Sometimes showing more, as opposed to telling - you did this really well with the goblins, they're obviously scavengers who are vaguely illiterate - intrigues the reader more than if they are presented with facts. B)Naval gazing: This is something I heard best describes by Brandon Sanderson in his youtube lectures. This is essentially when all the accumulative time that a character spends on introspection, visiting old memories, or generally contemplating ethics and the universe. While this is a essential tool in character development, it is important to keep it in moderation. It tends to slow down the pacing of the book, and should be avoided in more action oriented scenes. The concept already seems strong in the first chapter, and I'm looking forward to watching it develop. I'll probably leave comments like these as i go along, not because there are major problems (which there aren't), just so i can keep tabs on where i noticed what

18 May, 2020 10:32

Thank you very much for your insightful comment! I will keep these in mind when I go over the chapter again before presenting the next draft to an editor.   My early chapters probably suffer the most since I've learned its better to "Show, not tell." Will try my best to improve upon this as I give my draft another pass.

Uht Ceara
18 May, 2020 11:25

Awesome, glad i could help