Ralath sped through the woods with his hunt-brethren, Sommett and Daragen, trying to find tracks before the rains swept them away. Their target was not prey this night, but two of the clan’s children: Mariel and Turiel. The young First and her brother had stolen away in the night, leaving little trace of their departure.
During their hunt, they encountered a belligerent, drunken human making his way straight towards the elves’ encampment. Stopping him before he could cause trouble, he loudly announced himself and his intent: his “knife-eared” manservant had stolen from him and run off, and he would see justice done.
The best way to deal with this well-to-do human, Ralath figured, was to keep him as far away from the tribe as possible. He convinced the man that his hunting party was after the servant too; this resulted in the human joining the elves on their quest. Thus began the loudest hunt ever.
As they tracked the children, Ralath’s attention was caught by a strange sight: a glowing Halla. None of the others seemed to see it; they continued on their path, determined. The graceful creature stared at Ralath, and then pointedly turned and walked into the woods.
Ralath followed it and found himself at the well-hidden mouth of a cave; it was a few moments until the rest of the hunting party found him. Together, they descended into the depths and followed the children’s tracks. When the way seemed lost, Ralath’s halla appeared again and led Ralath down winding paths to a rather unique place:
The cavern nearly buzzed with magic, such that even untrained, the hunting party could feel it. Upon a large, circular stone dais, crowned by three large, stone pillars, slept Mariel and Turiel.
Ralath carefully retrieved the children and discovered that they had come here following a dream Mariel had. She didn’t know why she dreamt of this place; she only knew that it was important, and she’d known exactly where to find it. This was not the first time Mariel had been receiving visions and dreams of truth; it bore investigation.
Exploring the cavern, Ralath discovered that the central stone had writing on its edges; some of it was in Dalish, and the rest was undecipherable.
The hunting party made its way back towards camp, until such time as the lordling, complaining loudly, seemed about to lay a hand on one of the children. Ralath reacted immediately, as did Sommett. With two arrows pointing right at his face, Ralath gave a carefully-worded-but-still-unceremonious dismissal to the human. The man fled, and the elves hurried to their own camp.
The night had stirred up enough trouble that the hunting party felt it best to move the tribe, and when they returned, they advised the Keeper as much. He agreed and sent out the order for everyone to gather their belongings.
As the tribe prepared, Ralath took the Keeper on a side-journey to see the cavern that Mariel had found. Keeper Aralas, too, acknowledged the pure magic in the area but was unable to decipher the mystery writing on the stone.
When they rejoined the clan, they found everyone halted in their journey. They had found a wounded elf and were tending to him.
Mariel, emerging from her family’s Aravel, saw this stranger and started to scream, panicked. He was the one from her recent nightmares, she insisted:
The nightmares were about a wounded elf surrounded by werewolves. She refused to get close to the stranger and wanted him as far away as possible, positive he was going to bring horror and doom to their clan.
Rather than leave the elf to die – or kill him – Ralath suggested the clan stow the elf in an aravel on his own, guarded at all times, until he healed…or at least was awake enough to answer questions. Thus it was that an aravel was cleared and the stranger traveled with Ralath’s clan.
Wary of any danger, the elves began defensive preparations, but saw no danger come their way. Ralath did spot “his” halla, however; from walking a protective perimeter around his clan, it stopped, stared at him, and then purposely walked away one last time.
Ralath followed his strange spirit guide through the woods and away from his clan, until he found himself approaching a very lovely – if odd – clearing.
1. Akira OST: Kaneda. With a storm overhead, the Dalish speed through the trees, on the hunt for their missing children. Note: this link is the best I could find, though is not the precise version I used.
2. Shadow of the Colossus: Sanctuary. The Glowing Halla’s theme.
3. Shadow of the Colossus: To the Ancient Land. Mariel and Turiel have found a very old, very strange place to rest…
4. Dragon Age: Origins: Dalish Elves Encampment. The Dalish are a good people, respectful of nature and protectors of their traditions and half-lost heritage.