Lyra

This story is a background for a character for a tabletop RPG.  I may have gone a little overboard.
Lyra Ithilglad charged through the forest, tears streaming from her emerald eyes. As she ran, branches whipped her and ripped at the auburn topknot she wore. She pushed her slender form between trees. Small scratches opened across her body. If was as graceful as the other elves I could avoid those branches. She lamented and if I wasn’t so stocky I could slip through these trees like a ghost.
I didn’t take long for her to tire, but the 10 year old kept moving anyway. I’m an elf I can live out here as long as I want she told herself.
You don’t smell like an elf, well not exactly anyway a voice came in her head. Startled, the girl whipped her head around and saw a purple flickering the distance. In her anger, she had left without her ironwood staff. She also didn’t have her crossbow, or a weaklings bow as the other elves her size joked about her. They were all in their 40’s, halfway to adulthood.
You are not fully an elf the voice echoed in her head again. Her almond eyes focused on the strange light. She tried to be as silent as possible as she kneeled down and ran her hand through the undergrowth. “C’mon” she muttered as she searched. Finally, her small hand closed on a branch that felt solid. She rose and found it suitable as a club.
Lyra moved almost completely silent. More silent than any human could be, she decided. Lyra still winced at all the noise she was making. As she walked, the creature came into view. It was a rippling, translucent purple creature unlike any she had seen. Its body was bow-legged and stocky like a powerful mastiff, but its head flowed into a long crocodile snout. Its eyes were a human’s eyes, but huge and moving independently. Both focused on her as she got close.
“What are you?” Lyre asked stomach burning and body tensed, ready to act.
.
The creature huffed and spoke in a deep growl “I forgot you prime folks like to use vocal communication. Anyway, it would take decades of learning to understand what I am. Suffice it to say I come from another reality. I was tricked here by a dryad’s gate spell and the creatures trapped me. They thought it was funny, anyway.” The creature scanned her and said “You are showing the characteristics of a human deep in despair. Can I help?”
“I’m NOT a human,” Lyra growled. “What do you care about me?”
“Not human? but part of your scent is definitely human,” the creature said. “I ask because I care for all creatures, even odd things like you.”
“You’re the odd one, not me,” tears filling her eyes. “I’m here because some of the tribe call me unclean and tried to force the elder to kick me out,” a heaving sob filled her chest.
“Well technically you are not fully an elf,” the creature said
“I AM an elf. I will ask mommy and she will tell me,” she stated firmly.
I sense another approaching with a soul similar to yours. Perhaps it can help. The creature looked up with beseeching eyes. Please don’t tell her of me. Most humanoids would kill me on sight.
Lyra’s eyes softened and she jogged away from the creature. She settled in a nearby clearing waiting for whoever was searching for her. She knelt and drew pictures of the pitiful humans. They learned so fast but most would never know a true connection to the world. They did a lot, sure, but they missed the important things.
A half hour later she heard breathing over her shoulder. It was her mother, Alyssa, an elf-lady. Lyra would never have known she was there if she hadn’t made herself known. I should though. I am an elf-lady too! Why can’t I move like the wind? She harrumphed and continued drawing her dumb humans.
“What are you drawing dear one?” her mother asked.
“Stupid humans. They are so slow and disconnected. Not like us,” Lyra sobbed. “Except me,” Lyra stared her mother in the eyes, tears pouring down her face “Why am I broken?” Alyssa, as always, looked pristine. Lyra could tell something was wrong anyway. “There’s something wrong with me, isn’t there?”
Sorrow crossed her mother’s face. “There’s nothing wrong with you,” she sighed. “I wanted to wait until you were in your 40s but I didn’t know you would age so fast. You have sprung up like a dandelion. I suppose I should have expected it, though,” she hugged Lyra, then held her at arm’s length. “I can’t hide it anymore, Lyra, my beautiful child, your father was human.”
Lyra’s head spun and she couldn’t catch her breath. She fell onto her back, watching the world ripple and go black.
Her mother was shaking her. Was it time to get up? Something was wrong, she was crying. Opening her eyes Lyra saw the forest and her mother and reality washed over her. “How?” was all she could say.
“Your father was named Delius, and he was a powerful wizard. He was the smartest being I’ve ever met, and you take after him.”
“I take after a human! Am I that horrible!” Lyra cried. Her mother slapped her and the child stared at her, shocked.
“You know nothing of humans. They grow fast, they aren’t a part of the world as we – the elves – are. They are clever, strong and versatile. Humans can do anything in their short lives. They learning and love in a way we Elves will never understand.” she smoothed her hair and continued “Your father was brilliant. He rivaled the powers of our greatest mages of our people at only 40. He came to broker a treaty and I fell so deeply in love with him. He was so wise and powerful yet ephemeral. We had a tryst, then the treaty fell through. He was chased away from me, and a short war followed. I never saw him again.” Alyssa’s eyes ran over with tears and she turned away.
Everything Lyra knew dropped out from under her. She was an outcast, her people would never accept her. She would be an adult while the other children age were learning to read. She would never be a part of the forest, and she knew she wouldn’t stay here.
Her mother led her home and pretended nothing had happened. Lyra couldn’t. She went to the library and began to learn of humans. She also went back to the strange creature in the forest the first chance she got. As she expected it was still trapped.
“Hello,” she said warily “I kept my mother away,” she dropped to her rump and gave a quivering sigh. “You were right, I am human.”
“No,” came the growling reply. “You are better than human and better than an elf. You contain only the best of each.”
“Whatever,” Lyra said throwing up a hand “Does it hurt?” she asked “Being trapped?”
“Not as such,” the creature said “I am unable to move, and I cannot feel the connection with my kin.” the creature paused “I am alone in a world where I do not belong.”
“That’s how I feel,” Lyra responded.  “I wish I could help, but I don’t know how to break the circle.”
“I understand. You are young and not learned yet. Perhaps when you are an adult you will know and I can at least be free of this trap, although I do not know how to return home.”
Lyra stared into the creatures odd eyes. “I may not know now, but I learn faster than any elf,” a strange feeling passed over her. Could she be better than an elf? “I will find how to get you home, I promise.”
The creature sighed “I wish you the best, but this may be beyond you.”
The next day her quest began. She demanded her mother let her take magic lessons.
“You are too young,” her mother began.
“I am a half-human, I grow and learn faster than an elf,” she stated.
Giving in, Alyssa went to Tydal, one of the most powerful mages in the tribe. “Greetings, m’lady,” the old elf said, bowing.
“No need for that old friend,” Alyssa responded. “I have a favor to ask. My daughter wishes to be trained in magic.”
“But she is so young-” he began.
“In elf terms” her mother stated, cutting him off. “You are one of the few who knows the truth about her. She is ready to for training.”
Perhaps,” the old elf rubbed his hairless chin. “I can spare a year to see if you are correct. If by that time she hasn’t learned the basics I will teach her no more.”
Alyssa curtsied “Thank you, my friend. I shall send her to you in the morning.”
As promised Lyra arrived at Tydal’s home at first light. He looked her over and nodded “You are extremely large for 10. Does your intellect match?”
“I can already read the language of elves and I have learned common and catfolk.”
“Catfolk?” the mage asked. “Why would you learn that?”
Lyra turned a little pink “I think they are beautiful and I hope to meet them someday.”
“You have a strong curiosity, and a willingness to learn. I think I can teach you, young as you are. Let us begin.”
For the next 6 months, Lyra learned. Not only did she learn, she learned fast, and her mind was sharper than any student Tydal had ever had. After a few months, he wasn’t surprised she had learned her first cantrip. She spent her extra time in the library, studying the few books on the outer planes. She couldn’t find anything resembling her friend in the books. There were thousands of planes according to the books so it didn’t surprise her.
She visited her friend as often as she could and they talked of planes and summoning. She learned much from him. She discovered the creature had no name (that a half-human could speak). She started calling him Eid, as he wanted the opposite of death.
One day during her lessons Tydal asked her “Why do you study so hard? You learn faster than any other student I’ve had but you seem insatiable for knowledge. I know there is something you seek.”
Lyra paused for a moment, unsure if she should tell him. Finally, she said “Once I met a creature from the outer planes. It was summoned by mischievous dryads and I want to know how to send such a creature home, or call them to me.”
Tydal laughed “That is a very unusual reason to learn, but a noble one,” he looked at the young girl. “What you want is not to be a mage, but a summoner,” he looked upwards. “I can teach you how, but understand I am not a summoner. I can show you how, but only you will be able to do it.”
Lyra thought it over “Ok. I understand. I will figure out how from your whats,” the statement confused her, it made no sense. She laughed and Tydal did as well.
“Give me a week to gather the knowledge to begin your training,” he said and she agreed.
The next three years were a whirlwind. She learned every bit of lore and practiced summoning small creatures like chipmunks. She learned of circles, the outer planes and how to connect with a single spirit called an eidolon.
Lyra used her lessons well. After a year she was able to free Eid from his prison. The two began to bond in a way more deep than anything Lyra had known before. They knew each other’s thoughts. They could act as one, and their connection changed the creature. Eid sprouted a monkey’s arm from its shoulder, so Lyra taught it to use weapons.
As her mind expanded, her body changed. While never as thin as an elf, her body became curvy. Her face was exotic, wider than an elf’s but with deep emerald eyes and full lips. Her knowledge and enthusiasm endeared her to the whole tribe. The adolescent elves, all in their 80s, began to eye her. However, because of her age, none approached.
Then came the bandit attack. A group of humanoids had made a camp at the edge of the forest. Despite being monitored day and night, somehow a group broke into the camp at midnight. They started lighting fires and screaming. The elves fought back, but they were outnumbered and were losing ground.
Sensing their victory, the humans in the group began to chase the young girls, including Lyra. Young elves, as a whole, spent decades learning a single skill. This left other girls were defenseless. Lyra, however, stood firm as her attacker approached. Holding her staff at ready she chanted a short spell. A spray of acid tore into the man’s flesh and he screamed but didn’t slow.
She batted at him with her staff, but he was far more skilled with weapons and dodged her strikes. With no other choice, she put out the call to Eid. It appeared, roaring. The man, terrified of this new threat, backed away.
Lyra spotted a morningstar dropped by the attackers and tossed to Eid’s monkey arm. Eid swung it and smiled with its crocodile’s face. With a swift movement, it crushed the head of the man as he tried to flee. Together the pair charged after the other humans. Eid’s terrifying visage and deadly aim turned the tide.
The superstitious creatures began backing away yelling “demon!” This was when the scouts returned from the fake camp. Arrows flew in from behind the retreating bandits. A few escaped, but most were killed or captured.
A proud Lyra ran her hand over Eid’s ectoplasm. Instead of praise turned to find the tribe standing apart from her. Parents held children close staring at Eid. Elders, excepting her mother and Tydal, stared at her with silent fury.
“That creature is unnatural!” called an elf. This brought a flurry of screams, yells and angry accusations. The chief raised his hand and the mob went silent.
“Lyra. You have brought an unnatural being into our midst. Explain yourself,” he crossed his arms.
Lyra shrunk back, red faced and breathing hard. She didn’t know what to say so they would understand. You are unique, and we are one. These stiff necked creatures will never understand you. They will never let you stay now, they wanted only your beauty, not what you are.
Nodding, Lyra stood tall and squared her shoulders. If she could not stay she would let them know exactly what she thought. Pointing a finger she said “You, all of you, have never accepted me. You have treated me like the dirt from your boots. If my mother was not royalty I would have grown up alone,” Lyra raised her voice. When she spoke again her accusations were sharp as a knife. “You claim to be good, a part of nature and above all other beings. I am telling you you are not. At my young age, I hold more power than most of you here. You think yourself above me, and let me tell you, YOU ARE NOT.”
“You will not let me stay, I can see that. What you must understand is I no longer wish to. You disparage a creature that saved your daughters from the bandits. Eid helped save this village. Your intolerance is intolerable,” she stared into the chief’s eyes. “Excepting two, you people are lacking understanding and empathy. Chief, you lead a pack of self-righteous cowards. I renounce my clan name, from this day forward I will be Lyra Fendel.” Fendel was a perversion of a cat folk word for freedom from slavery.
The crowd was stunned into silence. Before any could speak she walked to her former home and grabbed her belongings. She strode proudly out of the village into the forest. She was elf enough to survive there until she was ready to face the rest of the world.
Several years later she sat by a fire, Eid standing nearby. “Eid. it’s time. Years ago I promised I would send you home, and now is that time. I finally know the secrets of how to do so.”
Eid brightened, then faded “I will not leave you alone. You need me.”
Lyra smiled “I will always be with you and you with me. Besides, I know how to call you should your help be required, or I am lonely. Besides, tomorrow I am going to the wider world to seek my fortune.”
The creature brightened again “Of course you are right, we are one, and I long to see my home after so many long years.” Lyra hugged him, then stepped back, eyes shining. With a wave of her hand, she began to chant. After a moment Eid faded from view. Lyra sat, staring at where the creature had been and thought about what the huge world ahead of her might be like.

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