The cold mist enveloped him as his green mantle could not. Pushing himself up to a sitting position, Astraes gazed warily around him. Shivering, he pulled his mantle tight and began to chew its collar nervously. The fabric had frayed from the acquisition of this nervous habit. Now heavy with the chilling mist, the mantle did little to warm him or ease his growing fear. The glow of the morning sun had been veiled by the icy droplets of stagnant air around him. Any light or heat it might provide had been absorbed by the chill atmosphere.
Astraes closed his eyes tightly and then flashed them open. It was something his friend Alex had taught him to do. It helped you to see better in the dark. Beneath him was a soft peaty island upon which had slept the night. It was surrounded by the purple haze of fetid swamp water. Turquoise and lilac gasses emanated from the water creating an eerie vapour above the marshes. “Pasithea,” he was about to whisper to himself, but he’d made a pact with Alex never to speak the name of this place. To think it instilled a fear within him that almost made him cry. He shoved the threatening tears back stubbornly with the back of his hand, stood up and challenged the eerie quiet of the swamps with his voice.
“Pirates dun cry!”
His voice startled a nearby toad and it bounded away into the murky depths, croaking as it leapt. Astraes was now shivering from fear as much as he was from the cold and he quickly settled into a crouch, hiding in the grey-blue grasses that offered meagre shelter. He covered his face with his cape, hoping that when he peered out again that the scene will have changed. He was only four, and although in faun years that made him as old as the human boy Alex, he didn’t feel the maturity of those years now.
He wished Alex was with him. Alex knew how to turn fear into an adventure. Astraes took courage from this thought and determined to stand again and assure himself that this was just another pirate adventure, but the moment his head peered above the grasses he sensed the looming shadow of a winged being above him. He daren’t look up. Something that size in this realm had only one identity. “Asura” his mind screamed. He cowered in sheer terror. Astraes wanted to call for help, but his voice caught in his throat.
His head turned about in panic, looking for somewhere to run. As far as his vision reached, all he saw was how well exposed he’d be to the demon queen circling him. He thought it was his fear clouding his eyes as his view was gradually impeded by a swirling shadow which took shape around him. Was this Asura’s magic? Astraes tried to remember what he had been taught. He knew the songs of the trees, they might help him. But there was no living tree in Pasithea. He gulped back his desire to cry helplessly when a diminutive grey-skinned figure appeared. Her ice blue eyes peered at him intently through the inky blackness of the shadow. She pressed a single figure to her mouth, hushing him. Moonlight ogham engravings upon her skin glowed in the onyx drape and she beckoned him to follow her through the shadows. Transfixed, Astraes followed her silent command, his heart leaping, not knowing if he was stepping deeper into danger or if this elfin creature was to be his saviour. All he knew was that Alex had been wrong about what creatures were real and which were myth. This Shadow Elf was as real as he was a faun.
Based on “A Room With a View” challenge – Day 2, Writing 101 at the Blogging University