This is the tale of Mithras. The author of this work is Arravis, please email him with any queries. The material contained here is the property of Arravis and is used with permission by Candlekeep. Candlekeep claim no rights of ownership to Mithras and associated material.
Mithras: Tale of the Cold Lands
I've always known
that at last I would
take this road, but yesterday
I did not know that it would be today.
The only sound was the crunching of snow beneath his feet. No birds wheeled and sang over him, no animals came near, nor could any plant larger than a stunted bush be seen. It was a vast and unwelcoming desert of white. The unrelenting light reflected from the snow was making him dizzy, and he wrapped a red scarf around his thin elven face. He took a deep breath and the smells of home came flooding back. It was his mother's scarf, made by his grandmother, and given to her by his father on their first night together. But for Mithras, it did not hold those memories, only the memories of a loving mother and her son. And with each breath he took, he took her in, the last remaining smell of her that he would ever have. He could feel the tears freezing to his cheeks.
He trudged on for hours, using a large bone spear to check the snow before him. Paying no heed to the numbing cold or to the growing wind, he journeyed east towards the Mountains of Dareth, known to outsiders as the Peaks of Cold Death. They loomed on the far horizon like a wall of jagged and broken teeth. There awaited the Hoarfaern, an ancient and powerful alliance of white dragons. There awaited his death, or so Mithras hoped.
He pulled his caribou-hide coat closer as the wind strengthened. The stiff hide rubbed uncomfortably against his raw back, but he ignored the pain. His sorcery protected him from the worst of the cold, but it still affected him. Thirst or lack of food could kill as easily as cold. Other dangers could appear at any moment, all equally eager to steal the last heat remaining within his body.
Unaccustomed to the strain of walking on snow, his legs were burning, and he could go no further. Finding a shallow depression in the tundra snow, he collapsed in exhaustion. He was glad to be able to stop and let the pain recede for a while. He turned his eyes west, towards the wind, towards his home. He felt he had made good progress, but Mount Sundabar towered behind him, filling much of the western sky. Its base seemed no more than a few steps away. He groaned in disbelief and disappointment. Never in his life had he walked so far, never had his legs hurt so much. All that suffering, and he had made nearly no progress.
The weary elf sighed and began the slow work of setting up camp for the night. Thankfully it would be short with the coming of the midnight sun. Even now the sun was setting several hours later than normal and he had the luxury of building a snow-wall to protect himself from the biting wind. Using a seal-oil lamp, he started a small fire and melted several chunks of ice.
The heat of the fire, the protection of the snow wall, and the caribou- and seal-skin blanket made the sunset almost tolerable. He placed ice-filled skins within the blanket so that his body heat would melt the ice. This allowed him to conserve his scant supply of seal blubber and oil. That done, he allowed his mind to wander, to lose itself in happier times.
Mithras and his older brother Daros were both the pride and heirs to the Uiallindar family, the twilight singers of the Aerie of the Snow Eagles. The aerie was the last known home of their kind, the Avariel, the winged elves. The Uiallindar were one of five families that upheld the ancient tradition of bladesinging. Their lineage went deep into elven history, before the exile of the Aril-tel-quessir, the Avariel, from their ancient home. The sons and daughters of the five families were expected to uphold the ancient craft, to bridge the gap between those of the Art and those of the blade.
Their training in song and dance began at an early age, and progressed to swordplay and wizardry as they grew older. Even when they were small children, it was clear that Daros was the more charismatic and intelligent of the brothers, able to learn new magics quickly. While Mithras was the more handsome, he lacked his brother's charm and natural leadership. He did excel at all things martial and possessed a sheer physical grace that the clumsier and weaker Daros did not. Unfortunately, Mithras possessed little talent for the Art. The rote and incantations seeped out of his mind as quickly as they were taught to him. He lacked the disciplined mind required of a wizard. He lacked what Daros had. As children though, all this went unnoticed by the brothers. To them nothing mattered beyond playing among the clouds, their mother's delicious sweetcakes, and father's stories of far-off places.
Something warm bumped against his face, waking him from his reverie. He opened his amethyst eyes and slowly pulled back the red scarf to see a pair of white furred arctic wolves standing before him. One was sniffing the bundle of skins he was wrapped in, while the other poked his nose into the tiny brazier he had used to burn the seal-blubber in earlier. Behind him he heard several other wolves padding in the snow. He held his breath, unsure of what to do. The wolves moved into sight around him, and another one sniffed at his skins. Abruptly, Mithras leapt to his feet, expecting them to scatter, but the pack kept together. They trotted off disinterestedly, headed southeast through the rising dawn. As the wind picked up, one of them looked back at the elf. The wolf's dark eyes seemed to pierce his, and Mithras thought he recognized intelligence, almost understanding, within them.
By the time he was finished packing the night-camp, the sun had just risen over the mountains, casting odd shadows across the tundra. Looking towards the sunrise he realized that the wolves and he were headed in the same direction. Deciding to follow their tracks, he trudged forward, barely able hear the crunching of his own footsteps over the howl of the southern winds.
Two cold, harrowing days passed before he saw the arctic wolves again. This time, most of them were huddled around a small pool of water that had been thawed by the southern sun. Another of the wolves emerged from a nearby snowdrift, a hard-won lemming in its mouth. Mithras took a moment to calm himself as he looked upon the pack. He needed water if he was ever to make it to the mountains, but he wasn't sure how they would react to him. Slowly he readied two empty water skins and approached the pool.
Two of the larger males stood as he came near, their ears bent forward and eyes focused on the possible threat. However, They did not attack or flee, rather they began to walk a large circle around him, sizing up the lanky intruder in their midst. After several nerve-wracking minutes, they permitted Mithras access to the badly needed water. The others, mostly females with cubs, watched him impassively as he bent forward and immersed the skins in the chilling pool. After both were full, Mithras withdrew, seeking shelter from wind and beast behind a nearby drift. From the safety of the embankment, he watched the pack, waiting until the wolves were done snacking on hapless lemmings. When they moved on, headed in the same direction as before, the elf followed.
He managed to keep pace for a while, as the wolves made their way through the sparkling tundra. From time to time one would stop and stare back at him for a moment as he clumsily plowed through the snow. What they thought of him, Mithras didn't know, but they clearly didn't see him as a danger. A good thing, the elf thought, and probably truer than he cared to admit.
Eventually, as the sky began to darken, Mithras lost sight of the wolf pack. Distance and their white coats had made them impossible to see, even with his keen eyes. Unaccustomed to so much walking, he simply couldn't keep up with their quick and tireless pace. Their padded feet did not sink as deeply in the snow as his, and they always knew where the snow would hold them and where it would not. Mithras knew the snows well, but felt like a clumsy oaf compared to them.
He was making progress, though. The silhouette of Mount Sundabar shrank behind him, and the Mountains of Dareth grew ever larger before him. He hadn't noticed the wind pick up until he saw the snow moving sideways like waves along the surface of the tundra. Mithras struggled forward, trying to continue on, but as the wind gathered an incredible strength, he was forced to his hands and knees, unable to make any progress. Like needles, the furious wind and incredible cold pierced him. Forced to take shelter behind a snow burm, he crawled through the deep snow so that the frigid gales wouldn't blow ice into his eyes. The embankment provided little protection against the cold, but the wind was slightly lessened. If he stayed out in the open, he would die. Magic could only do so much, and the freezing cold was already more than it could handle.
Frantically he dug into the drift, even as the snowstorm roared around him. Once the hole was large enough, he pierced the top of the cave with the long bone spear and crawled inside. He hastily covered the opening with loose snow and then laid out his blankets on the floor of the makeshift snow cavern. Exhausted, he collapsed atop the furs, moving only to adjust the spear from time to time; if he let it sit in one place for too long, the hole around it would close up, and he would suffocate. As the long hours passed, Mithras fell once again into the memories of reverie, remembering the past he wished to forget.
The first time Mithras spotted their elegantly flying forms high above the mountains, his world had stood still. Their grand beauty, their mastery of the wind, and their danger filled him with an overwhelming sense of awe and fear. Daros was gliding close to him, and he made a questioning gesture with his hands. Mithras answered his brother by pointing up towards the three white dragons that dived and chased each other high among the thermal winds. Without a word, lest they shatter this moment or alert the dragons, the brothers landed on a dry and stunted willow tree below. They hid behind the cracked trunk and watched as the three young wyrms played among the clouds. They must have been no longer than ten or twelve feet in length, probably equivalent to the physical maturity of Mithras and Daros themselves. Their forms seemed too large to take wing, but there they were. They possessed an efficiency and elegance in flight that brought a sense of wonder to both of them.
It was several hours before the dragons finally left, flying deeper into the Mountains of Dareth. Once out of sight, the two young Avariels let out a communal breath and laughed. Their mood was jovial, for not only having experienced such a thing, but also seeing their most dreaded enemy and lived. It was an ecstatic combination of the fascinating and the forbidden. As they made their way home, they spoke about secretly returning after the grape harvest was over. Mithras and Daros vowed to never speak of what had occurred to anyone. They knew what the reaction would be. They knew they wouldn't be allowed to fly so far, which meant they would never see the dragons again.
Mithras was snapped out of his reverie by a throbbing pain in his head. Nausea flooded his body as the cave suddenly seemed very small. About to panic, he saw that the air hole had become plugged with snow. Quickly, he grabbed the bone and cord spear in both hands and shook it violently. His body heat had melted the walls of the cavern, and the snow had hardened into ice around the spear. It barely moved though he used all his strength to force it. Bracing his back against the opposite wall of the cavern, Mithras pushed with his feet against the spear shaft. It bent and threatened to break, but it had no effect on the packed ice. His mind reeling, he used the last of his will to do the one thing he wished to do the least: to use his newfound Art, his magic.
Through clenched teeth he spoke the incantation as his left made the arcane gesture to call forth the necessary energy. Suddenly strength flowed through his muscles, strength beyond his own, a strength that allowed him to reach beyond his limits. He knew the magic would only last a brief instant, so he called forth on the last of his reserves, gripped the spear and pushed up. He heard a crack like twigs breaking as the spear shattered through the ice. It was followed by a snap as the spear itself broke under the strain. Freed of his icy prison, nearly his icy tomb, Mithras was able to claw out of the drift and into the fresh air. He looked up at the multitude of stars overhead and gave a yell to the skies, part triumph and part misery.
In the light of dawn, the effects of the blizzard were clear. Two feet of snow had fallen, obliterated all tracks and landmarks. He only knew which way to go by the rising sun, and the distant position of Mount Sundabar. The fresh snow meant that travel would be difficult, but the windless and clear skies made the going easier on his spirit. To the east, the Mountains of Dareth shimmered like gold and seemed as close as a few hundred yards. Mithras knew it was an optical illusion, one that happens on particularly clear days. With a lighter step, the elf made his way through the white tundra.
By the following dusk, gently rolling hills began to rise out of the landscape. They seemed to be more like slumbering giants than hills. Rocks broke through the snow at times, and in their warmth they harbored a few leafless trees and half-frozen grasses. Under a stone overhang on the leeward side of one hill, Mithras made camp for the short night. While the sun sank back into the snow, he gathered all the edible plants he could. His rations were running low and he would need to hunt soon.
As he lay in his skins, he studied the perfectly clear night sky. It was almost a full moon and Selune's tears twinkled brightly as she made her way across the heavens. He remembered the last time he had done this, less than a year ago. The elf immersed himself in those memories and lost himself to the reverie.
Daros and Mithras rested themselves against the cool glass and their arms hung over the slanted roof of the north viewing tower. It was the tallest of all the towers situated around the crystalline peak of Mount Sundabar. Since it was a clear and moonless night, they were able to see the far off lights of the Sossarim town of Sundice. It was not far from there that the Avariels held their yearly trade meetings with the humans of Sossal. Though the two cultures had never been directly at odds, there was a good deal of mistrust between them. Thus, the brothers' watch on the north tower.
They talked about what kind of people lived in Sundice and all they might be doing. Not that either of the brothers had ever been there, of course. Neither of them was allowed to even come near a human settlement, and the only contact they had with them was during the yearly trademeets. Soon though, the two brothers became quiet and enjoyed the night sky.
It was Daros who broke the stillness, several hours later: "In six months the Ar and Teu-tel-quessir will be here. What are you going to do?" Mithras turned towards his brother, "What I've always done," he answered. "I'll give them the show they're looking for. It doesn't matter, no one will know." Daros shook his head and sighed "It won't work, Mithras, not anymore. Aquilan is looking to impress the outsiders, and he'll be wanting much more than simple magics that can be faked with flash-powder or lodestones. You're going to have to tell him, all of them, the truth."
Mithras snorted spitefully, "Easily said, for you. You're not the one that will be removed from the Twilightsingers, or any of the bladesingers for that matter. You won't be the one left with nothing but shattered dreams!" He swallowed hard and continued "I just need a little more time. I know I can learn the spells we'll need. Anyway, I have plenty of other ways I can impress." And with that, he gave a sly smile and brought his arm out in a mock sword parry and thrust combination.
Daros only closed his eyes and shook his head again. "No, it's not going to work. They're wanting to use spells I've barely mastered and if I don't know them yet, what hope do you have?" With anger in his eyes, Mithras spat, "I'm not slow-witted, I know you think I am, but I'm not. You're not the only one that can learn magic, you're not the only one that can do whatever he wants!"
Daros climbed to his feet, standing on the rooftop and said "I won't allow it Mithras. I can't have you making fools of our family, of our people. This is too important. You don't know magic, and you never will. Just accept it." Mithras rose in anger. "No!," he yelled, "It's not that simple, I can't just give it all up! You want me to tell father and mother I've been lying to them for the past ten years? You won't have to see the looks of betrayal in their eyes.the disappointment. No, you'll never see that. You never do. Everything you do is perfect in their eyes!" Daros stepped forward, his voice rising "I will tell them Mithras, I'll tell them about all the lies that we've both made! If they make you quit the singers, I'll quit with you. We'll join the Talons and that will be that."
Mithras' rage got the best of him. He could handle his brother's anger, but not his pity. The young elf lashed out, his fist smashing into Daros's face. He felt his brother's jaw crack and break beneath the anger-filled blow. Daros fell from the tower and plummeted into the darkness. For a moment, Mithras just stood there as the wind eddies whipped around and the stars winked impassively above him. For that one moment he was ready to let his brother die.
But the moment passed and with a furious scream he plummeted after Daros. He dropped down through the darkness, not knowing if he could catch his brother before he shattered on the rocks below, and not caring what happened to himself if he couldn't.
Swooping down, he finally saw the limp and flailing body spinning through the air. Whether Daros was unconscious or simply stunned, he couldn't tell. Mithras brought his wings close to his body, hastening his descent. The rocks of Mount Sundabar were nearing, and just when Mithras thought he couldn't reach his brother in time, Daros's wings fanned out, and he caught a swift updraft. In the darkness, Mithras saw his brother's eyes only for a moment. In them he saw pity, hate, and fear.
Daros flew south towards the ice-vineyards, Mithras glided east towards the plains. In a jumble of conflicting emotions, he flew towards the sun, which would soon rise. He was going to the one place that always filled him with a sense of peace. Going to the one place he felt he could clear his head and figure out what to do.
The southern wind had picked up again that morning, but it held none of the earlier blizzard's ferocity. Tiny eddies of snow danced around the elf as he continued his journey southeast. The hills grew in magnitude around him with each step that brought him closer to the mountains. Thankfully the hills held more life than the barren plains and it was not long before Mithras found food, sparse as it was.
While gathering crowberries and saxifrage roots for boiling into a soup, he noticed something unusual nearby. Between three hillocks there was a small valley with an odd formation of ice and snow. With the crudely repaired spear in hand, he approached nearly a dozen barrel-sized, rounded chunks of ice forming a spiral in the middle of the valley.
As he ventured nearer, the snow gave way beneath him, and with a yell he fell into a cavern entrance. The tunnel of snow and frozen earth was nearly as tall as he was, and it ran into the side of the hill thirty feet before curving down out of sight. Mithras had no idea where it led or what its purpose was, but the entire place gave him an odd sense of foreboding. He carefully moved away from the tunnel and the icy spiral. Something just didn't feel right. Soon, the sense of wrongness was so overwhelming that he found himself plowing through the snow to get away from it.
Once he was finally out of sight of the three hills, Mithras' pace slowed and his mind relaxed. What had caused the sense of unease, he didn't know, but it felt palpable and real. He was glad to be away from it. With a shrug the elf continued on with his journey, leaving the valley behind.
After more exhaustive hours of hiking, the mountains finally seemed within his grasp. It was then that he found the massive tracks. Cautiously, Mithras crested an overlooking hill and spotted the beasts that had left them. A small herd of stocky, dark, shaggy-haired mammals with large drooping horns were grazing on a patch of grass that they had uncovered beneath the snow. He recognized immediately that they were rothe, one of the few large animals that could be found in the cold lands. If he could just separate one from the pack, he would eat well tonight.
He shrank back behind the hill and considered the contents of his pack. With a sigh he decided against using any of them. After rechecking the repairs on the spear, and readying a large tusk knife on his belt, Mithras crawled along the snow towards the top of the hill. Without warning, there was a series of loud and fearful snorts followed by a deep rumbling that shook the ground beneath him. Shocked and a little afraid, he scrambled over the crest in time to see a growing cloud of snow and dirt in the midst of the herd.
Out of this flurry emerged a white worm of enormous proportions. Two massive and wickedly curved mandibles protruded from its angular head. Above these were a series of slits and beyond that a strange hollow nodule. As the rothe began to huddle together in a panic, a hideous and piercing shrill escaped from the worm. The sound drove nails through Mithras' mind, leaving him dazed and disoriented. It clearly had the same effect on the herd because they stood unmoving as the creature reached down and clenched the body of one of the poor animals in its mandibles. With a sickening crunching sound, followed by a loud snap, the rothe was split in half, spilling steaming entrails onto the snow.
With his mind still reeling from the creature's assault, Mithras dizzily watched as the worm swung down again. Another of the rothe was grabbed by the powerful jaws and was flicked bodily into a nearby hill. Its body lay twisted and broken against the black rocks.
Finally the heard broke from its paralysis and scattered. Most of the rothe fled west, away from the monstrosity, but one headed directly towards the hill atop of which Mithras lay. The sight of half a ton of crashing muscle and fur coming directly at him finally snapped the elf out of his daze.
With a quick jolt of his muscles, he turned and dove out of the way as the terrified beast thundered past him, tearing large gouges in the snow and earth below. Before he could make any moves to flee, however, he felt a massive impact against his back. The tremendous blow spun him around in time to see the ice covered body of the worm crash through the snow and into him as it dove after the bellowing rothe. A flash of searing pain brought darkness to him.
Mithras arced in a wide spiral, gaining height on a thermal above the hills of the Mountains of Dareth. Below him he could see the summer grasses ripple in the strong winds. He closed his eyes, trying once again to get the pain in his fist, and the pain in his heart, out of his mind. The grasses wouldn't last much longer, it was already the Fading, and snow would once again blanket the land.
He had lost count of how many times he had made this trip. For the first two years Daros would come, and the two would spend glorious hours watching the young dragons play in the sky. But as Daros became more serious about his studies, he accompanied Mithras less and less. The younger elf begged his brother to go of course, but Daros no longer thought that it was worth the risk. Approaching dragons was strictly forbidden. The elders had no desire to awaken old enmities.
Whenever Mithras could, he would sneak away to see them. He didn't understand how his brother could resist their pull. The young elf wanted nothing more than to fly with them, to feel their shared wind, to glide along the hidden skies that no other Avariel could fly. If not that, simply to watch them wheel across the sky would be enough. It brought him a sense of peace that he couldn't feel anywhere else.
He tried to force his anxieties about home, the pressures of his studies, and the weight of his parents' expectations, aside. In the mountains there were no problems, no responsibilities, no hopes to dash, and no tears to shed. There was only the beauty of the land and the sky, the beauty of primordial creatures that once ruled all of the lands. That is where Mithras now flew, to the only place where he could become lost in his thoughts. It was the only place where he could be free.
A sharp and painful jolt startled him, rousing him from unconsciousness. Bright sunlight burned into his eyes like white fire. Squinting against the light, a throbbing pain greeted him when he tried to move his hand. He forced his eyes shut and shook his head, trying to adjust to the light. When he could finally see again, he noticed the softly bobbing hills slowly receding, as if it were trying to crawl away from him. Dizzily he looked down at himself.
He was wearing his furs and his resting skins had been laid out over him. Four large straps were wrapped around him, binding him to something hard underneath. As he swayed, he saw two thin lines in the snow in front of him. Nausea threatened to overtake him and he reeled back and gasped, trying to calm his churning body. Looking upwards, he could see the back of a towering figure directly behind him. It walked at a methodical pace, seemingly unaware of the elf. The figure stumbled and another powerful jolt shook Mithras' body. Pain again flooded into him, and again he lost consciousness.
He finally arrived in the high valley that held the old willow that he and Daros had hidden behind that first time. Mithras' eyes searched the skies, but he did not see any dragons. Knowing it was only a matter of time, he landed in the lush grasses near the tree and lay down in their warmth. He enjoyed the sound of the whispering winds of the valley as he awaited their arrival. Soon, however, he was lost in reverie.
He knew something was wrong when the wind no longer chilled his skin. When the elf opened his eyes, he saw that only a small clearing around him and the dead willow held any of the brown-green grasses that blanketed the valley. Surrounding him was a tall and irregular wall of bluish-white ice and snow. It was as if a blizzard had come but it had allowed him to rest undisturbed. As he looked closer he realized that the wall was not made of ice, but of scales. Some were small and fine, glittering like diamonds in the sunlight. The larger ones looked considerably less delicate, like jagged shards of hard white ice.
Mithras' eyes widened in horror at the massive body of white scales wrapped around him. His heart raced so quickly he thought it might burst from his chest. The elf's hair rose, his skin crawled, and his muscles tensed like ropes pulled nearly to breaking. His wildly darting eyes recognized a leg, a talon, a wing, a sinewy tail, a single milky-blue eye staring into his..
The crested head turned and rose on a thick serpentine neck, looking directly at the elf. Mithras felt it inhale, as if the creature were trying to breathe in his very spirit. A hundred escape plans darted through his mind, but he knew all of them would fail. The expressionless eyes blinked slowly, then softened as they looked at the horrified elf. Like a soft breeze, a melodic, but rumbling voice in a decidedly feminine tone spoke "Do not be afraid little elf, I have no desire to harm you." The words were in elven, but the accent was strange, as if the dragon's tongue could not quite produce the proper sounds. "I am Laximyrkcion, ruler of the western rise. You may call me Smirk though, as an old elven friend once did."
"I have not known many who enjoyed watching my offspring, admiring their beauty and grace. I am glad that you appreciate them. For that, little elf, I thank you." Suddenly the dragon uncoiled itself from the avariel and tree. With a tilt of its head, it seemed to smile at him and said "You may return to watch over my children whenever you wish." A single beat of those massive wings propelled the gargantuan creature aloft, leaving a stunned Mithras and swirling clouds of snow in its wake. Her form disappearing behind one of the southern mountains, she was gone.
The smell of burning wood and the soft crackling of embers woke him from his sickened slumber. Struggling to see through his bleary haze, Mithras could make out wildly dancing shadows as they flitted across the stone walls all around him. He was inside a natural cave that was no wider than thirty feet with a ceiling that stretched beyond the firelight. At its center a covered fire pit burned, sustained by a few burning logs. Attached to the low walls of the cave were caribou, rothe and bear pelts. His clothes and pack lay nearby, with his spear over them. Mithras was thankful for the warmth of the fire, but he was even more relieved to feel a mild wind on his arm. The cave was open to the outside. Even as comforting to the elf as that was, he could still feel the oppressive weight of tons of rock around him, waiting to collapse under the incessant strain.
Biting his lower lip nervously, he looked down at himself and saw a series of bone splits on his left arm and shoulder. A pungent green-brown ointment had been rubbed on a multitude of lacerations on his chest, face and arms. Unable to reach his pack with his right arm, he tried to stand. An overwhelming wave of excruciating pain from his many gouges and cuts, and his broken arm was too much for him to bear. Mithras gave a feeble groan and collapsed helplessly on the furs.
Moments later, one of the bear pelts parted and a large fur-covered form lumbered inside. It shivered from the chill winds and frost that eddied into the cave past him. The form, a human man, lowered his hood to reveal a mess of matted dark hair. His skin was deeply tanned, and his face held angular features hardened by a long life of struggle and toil. A single thick eyebrow cut through his forehead, and dark eyes shone out from beneath. Though it caused him obvious pain, Mithras backed away for a moment, his eyes darting about the room for something he could use as a weapon. His purple eyes settled on one of the loose bone splints on his arm.
The stout man snorted and dismissed him with a curt wave. He seemed more intent on removing his massive coat than slaying him. The stocky stature beneath seemed as wide as he was tall. He hunched over the fire and nearly thrust his hands into the flame to warm them before his eyes finally settled on Mithras. He opened his mouth as if to say something, then closed it once again. His brow furrowed as he stared intently at the elf he had rescued. Once again, he opened his mouth, but as before it closed without saying a word. A puzzled look came over the man's face. He rubbed his hands roughly over the fire, and then grabbed his furs and immediately stood. His brow furrowed once again, but this time he spoke. With a thick accent and gruff voice, in Sossarim he said, "You can't stay here." With that and nothing else, he turned and exited the cave, leaving the stunned elf alone once more.
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