Please Stay


A short story inspired by the song West by Sleeping At Last. (I don’t have a link to it, unfortunately, but I know you can listen to it for free on Spotify!)

I hope you like it! And please, feel free to comment!

*・゜゚・*:.。.:**・゜゚・*:.。.:**・゜゚・*:.。.:**・゜゚・*:.。.:**・゜゚・*:.。.:**・゜゚・*:.。.:**・

Elvi looked back at the city that was now barely visible on the horizon. All she could see was the castle’s spires towering into the sky, but  the noise of the cheering people still rang in her ears, so she was unable to enjoy the silence of the abandoned forest path. Elvi brought her horse to a stop. She scanned the area, but she didn’t see him. Sighing deeply, she adjusted the red cape that was strapped to her shoulders, wondering whether he had given up on her and left. She was late.
“But it’s not my fault,” she mumbled to herself, looking back at the castle. “They detained me.”
“I’m not surprised,” a voice replied. “You’re Elvi, the dragon-slayer. I knew you wouldn’t be able to escape from them easily, so I planned accordingly.” Elvi looked up at the trees.
“Show yourself,” she demanded, playfully. Søren swooped down and landed next to her. He stood tall and ran his hand through his long brown hair. His scaly, auburn-colored tail flicked from side to side. Elvi’s horse skittered, so she dismounted and attempted to quiet her steed.
“Sorry,” he said as she petted her mare’s nose. “Horses don’t tend to like me.”
She looked at him.
“Hello Søren.” She smiled.
“Hello Elvi,” he replied, folding his big, leathery wings behind him. “Being a hero suits you well, I see. The color has finally returned to your cheeks.” He glanced behind her. “And that’s a beautiful cape you’re wearing.”
Her cheeks felt suddenly warm.
“I’m not a hero, Søren,” she said as he came to stand next to her. “I was just following your advice. You’re the hero, not me.”
“No, no, Elvi,” he assured. “Don’t say that. You did more than you realize. They couldn’t’ve won the war without you.”
Elvi sighed and looked away. No matter what he said, she would always feel guilty for accepting the praise and honor he deserved. But he would never accept any credit. He was too afraid to show himself to the people because of what he was. Elvi had promised to vouch for him, he was only half dragon, after all, and he had done so much for the Kingdom— but he absolutely refused to come out of hiding. She didn’t really blame him, though. Because of the war, the people now believed that dragons were soulless monsters.
And Elvi was afraid he was starting to believe that, too.
The silence between them was comforting, and she was sorry to break it, but she knew they didn’t have much time together. He would be on his way again soon.
“Where will you go?” she asked, looking up at him.
“Nowhere,” he replied, slowly reaching out his hand toward her steed. The horse’s ears went flat against it’s head and it snorted, so Søren lowered his arm. He winced, and then looked at her and said, “I will wander the edge of the land again. Perhaps I can ensure that our borders are respected.”
“Alone?” Elvi whispered.
“It’s for the best.”
They were quiet for some time.
“And you?” he said. “Where will you go?”
“West,” Elvi replied, looking at her horse. “Back to my family.”
“Alone?”
“Yes.”
He frowned.
“You shouldn’t travel alone,” he said. “What if something happens to you?”
“Nothing will happen to me. I’m a hero, remember?” Elvi smirked.
“Even more of a reason to be cautious,” he said as she turned and mounted her horse.
“I will be cautious,” she said, adjusting her cape again. “It’s only a day’s journey at most, anyway. I’ll be fine.”
“No, you cannot go alone.”
“What are you suggesting, Søren?” Elvi said, looking down at him. He hesitated before speaking.
“I am suggesting that going together would be better than you traveling alone, so I will do it. I will accompany you.”
Elvi was surprised
“You… will?”
“Yes. It’s only a short detour.” He shrugged.
“Well then,” she said, trying to contain her excitement. “Let’s go, shall we? We’re loosing daylight.”
Søren nodded and then spread his long wings. He jumped into the air, easily cutting through the flimsy branches above him as he flew into the sky. He was beyond her sight, but she could hear the sound of his flapping wings as she kicked her horse into a canter.

*

It was early the next day when the terrain finally began to slope upward. The journey had been so far uneventful, and Elvi hadn’t seen any sight of Søren since the beginning of it. She could hear him, but he hadn’t shown himself, not even when she called. He was staying away from her for some reason, and it was exasperating.
Elvi looked up at the tall evergreen trees, knowing that he was above them somewhere.
“We’re almost there!” she shouted, wondering if he could hear. “It should only be a few more hours!”
Silence was her only response. She sighed and kicked her horse from a walk to a canter.    By noon the land had leveled out again. The faint mountain path had slowly disappeared, and it was nearly mid-afternoon when Elvi realized she didn’t remember the direction she was supposed to go. She slowed her horse and looked around. None of it was familiar. She scowled.
“I used to know these forests better than my own home,” she murmured, straining her neck.
Finally, she stopped. Reaching into her saddle bag, she pulled out an old, weather-worn scroll. She unrolled the parchment. The map inside was marked by many lines and Xs, reminding her of every place she’d been and every battle she’d fought. She ran her fingers over her father’s name in the corner and then began to study the plat carefully.
A moment later there was a loud flapping sound, but she didn’t look up when Søren landed a couple paces away.
“What is it?” he asked.
“Oh! And now he speaks to me!” Elvi exclaimed.
“What?” Søren said, obviously confused. She huffed.
“When you said you were coming with me so I wouldn’t be alone,” she lifted her eyes to glare at him, “I was excited, I’ll admit. But you have taught me that there is a difference between being alone and being lonely.”
She lowered her gaze again.
“I… I am sorry,” Søren said after a long silence. “But… it was for the best. I couldn’t risk anyone seeing you with me.”
“Why not?” she snapped.
“You’re a hero, Elvi— a noble in the eyes of many,” he said, running his hand through his hair. “And I… well, I’m a halfling. What would people say if they saw you with me?” He stretched out his wings just for emphasis.
His words struck Elvi speechless.
“Now, what’s wrong?” he asked again, approaching her cautiously.
“I’ve forgotten the way,” she whispered, looking down at the map. They were silent for a time.
“We will have to wait for sunset, so I can find my sense of direction,” she said, rolling up the parchment again.
“What about your father’s compass?” Søren suggested. “It’s steady true north has never failed us before. Why should it fail us now?”
Elvi paused. She took a deep breath and blinked back tears.
Søren must’ve noticed.
“You didn’t lose it?” he asked, anxiously.
“No, no,” she said, reaching under her collar and grasping the silver chain. The compass appeared, but it wasn’t as glorious as it had once been. It’s golden exterior was now pale and dirty, the glass was cracked, and the arrow stuck.
“It’s broken,” she said, her voice cracking. “And we’re lost.”
And then she threw the compass onto the ground. It landed at Soren’s feet. He reached down and picked it up.
“No, we’re not,” he exclaimed, putting the chain around his own neck. “Not yet.”
He took a deep breath through the nose, which startled Elvi. He sniffed the air again, his nostrils flared and his eyes squinted.
And then he grinned.
“Aha!” he exclaimed, jumping into the air and unfurling his wings.
“What?” Elvi shouted in confusion.
“Humans! Your family! I can smell traces of them,” he explained, still smiling. “They lead this way, follow me!”
And then he flew forward, his majestic wings slicing the air.
Elvi kicked her horse and was quickly after him.

*

Elvi watched for anything she recognized, but it was a pointless effort. Søren hadn’t slowed for a moment, but the sun was sinking lower in the sky and Elvi was becoming anxious.
“Are we close?” Elvi yelled to him. “It’s dangerous to be out here after dark!”
Søren let himself fall onto the ground, landing with grace. He breathed in deep.
“Yes, the smell is stronger,” he said, closing his eyes. “But… there is also something else… and it’s much closer.”
“What?” Elvi asked after a minute of silence.
“I’m not sure, it smells familiar, but…” he sniffed again, and then opened his eyes wide. He whirled around to face her.
“Wolves!” he exclaimed.
Before she could respond there was a loud howl.
And then there was a snap to their right. They looked to see wolves silently emerging from the foliage, low growls emanating from their throats. Elvi gasped and reached for her sword, but then her horse whinnied and reared. Elvi screamed as she tumbled to the ground. She hit the ground hard and her scream was cut short.
Gasping for breath, she forced herself to move. She lifted her head, only to stare straight into the black eyes of a wolf. She wanted to scream but couldn’t. The wolf opened it’s jaws to strike, but then suddenly a dragon’s roar reverberated through the air. Soren’s tail came from nowhere, smacking the wolf in the face. He roared again and it shook the very ground where Elvi sat. The wolves silenced. They hesitated, but then the wolf that Søren hit began to growl again and the others quickly joined it.
Before they could attack, Søren turned and ran toward Elvi. He was quickly by her side, lifting her from the ground with ease. But the wolves were forming a semi-circle around them. Elvi clutched Søren tightly, her heart pounding in her chest as she stared at their sharp teeth.
“Hey,” Soren’s calm voice whispered in her ear. She looked at him.
“We’re going to be just fine,” he said. Her horse was gone, the wolves were closing in, but Elvi believed him. She relaxed in his arms.
“Hold on,” he whispered, leaning down. And then, he jumped into the air and spread his wings. Up they went. Up, beyond the wolves’ reach; up, beyond the tops of the trees; up, almost to the clouds. They soared on the breeze. Søren scanned the ground below them, meanwhile Elvi stared at the beautifully colored sky and breathed in the cold wind.
“Is that it?” Søren asked gently, breaking her thoughts. She looked down.
“Yes.”
He glided back down through the trees and landed in front of her family’s mansion. The gates were closed. He set her down gently, but Elvi stood frozen.
She hadn’t seen her home in so long, she almost couldn’t believe it was real.
After what seemed like an eternity, she walked up to the gate and rung the bell. And then she crossed her arms and closed her eyes.
“Are you all right, Elvi?” Søren asked. She looked over her shoulder.
“I’m fine. Thank you for rescuing me. Again,” she smiled, weakly. “Are you all right?”
He opened his mouth to reply, when the gates flew open with a creak.
“Elvi?”
Elvi jerked her head forward. A man and woman stood just inside the gates.
“Mother? Father?”
She ran forward into their open arms and they hugged her tightly. Soon joyful shouts filled the air and all of Elvi’s brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents surrounded her. They pulled her further into the courtyard where hundreds of hugs and kisses awaited. Happy tears were flowing freely down her face when she suddenly remembered Søren. She whirled around.
Over the heads of her family she saw him, standing outside of the gates. Their eyes met. He smiled and lifted his hand in farewell. And then he spread his wings and flew into the nearest tree. Her family looked in the direction she was staring, but they never saw him.
And then the gates began to close and Elvi was rushed inside.
But she couldn’t help looking back at her friend, who sat perched on the highest branch.     “Goodbye, Søren,” she said, but her adieu was lost in the noisy celebration.

*

Elvi was happy to be home.
In less than an hour her family was sitting down to a feast. As they all sat down at the long table, Elvi looked out of the large window across from her, surprised that the sun was still in the sky. With her family fussing over her she hadn’t had any time to think, and the hour had felt like an eternity.
The servants brought platters of delicious food to the table, but Elvi found herself unable to eat. And so, while her family was busy devouring the meal, she had a moment to herself.
It was solacing to have so many kind, familiar faces surrounding her.
But something wasn’t right. Something was missing.
It felt like half of her heart hadn’t arrived yet.
And it was because of him. She couldn’t deny it, and she couldn’t get him out of her mind. But she didn’t want to. She missed him already.
Looking out of the window, she searched the trees. The sun cast dark shadows over the forest, but she easily found Søren. He hadn’t moved from the tree. It looked like he was watching them.
And then it occurred to her that he had probably never seen a family before.
He was alone. He was alone and had been his whole life. No one had ever offered to accompany him. No one had ever offered to go out of their way for him.
She stared at Søren’s silhouette. And then she realized that with every minute she sat idle, she was letting him slip through her fingers.
Could she sit there any longer?
And then, Søren stood. Elvi gasped as he spread his wings.
“No!” she exclaimed. Her siblings startled, but she didn’t care. She couldn’t just sit anymore. Jumping to her feet, she didn’t even bother to excuse herself but ran out of the room as fast as she could.
“No, no, no!” she exclaimed as she opened the front door.
“Elvi!” her mother cried, appearing in the hallway behind her. “Where are you going?”
“Søren!” Elvi shouted as she ran out of the door. “I have to get Søren!”
“Who’s—?”
But she was soon out of earshot. Her bare feet slapped the cold, stone path as she ran to the gate. It was closed. Her heart pounding, she flung it open.
“Søren!” she yelled into the spreading darkness. She squinted her eyes, but the sun’s light was nearly gone.
She ran out into the forest, stumbling over roots and rocks.
“Please, Søren!” she cried, wondering whether he had left or was ignoring her. Elvi’s eyes adjusted to the dimness just to be blurred by her tears.
“Søren… Oh, Søren…”
But then, just when she had given up hope, there was a loud whooshing sound. She caught her breath.
“S-Søren?”
She blinked and wiped her eyes. A man stood in front of her. A man with wings.
She ran to him, relief washing over her as she threw her arms around his neck.
“What is it, Elvi?” he said, accepting the embrace. She released him, sliding her hand down his arm and grasping his hand.    “I want you to stay,” she blurted, staring into his eyes.
He was silent.
“Søren?” Elvi laughed, tears overflowing her eyes. “Didn’t you hear me? I want you to live here with us! I want you to join my family! Please, say you’ll stay.”
“I can’t,” he whispered.
Elvi’s heart almost stopped.
“Why not?”
He shifted weight.
“You can’t expect me to be accepted here. What would the people do when they found out? What would the King say? No, I can’t stay here, Elvi. I can’t stay. It’s for the best.”
Elvi trembled.
“Who’s best?” she exclaimed. “Yours? Mine?” She squeezed his hand, the hard scales on the back of his fingers cutting into her skin. “The people will accept you, Søren, if you give them a chance to. But you shouldn’t be alone. You cannot be alone.”
He was quiet for a long time. Slowly, he reached up and grasped her father’s compass that still hung around his neck.
“Then… what are you suggesting?” he said.
“I am suggesting that being together would be better than you traveling alone,” she whispered. “So I will do it.” She leaned in closer, “I will bring you home.”
He looked down, and she thought she saw tears in his eyes.
“I don’t want you to get hurt,” he whimpered.
“Hey,” she said, touching the hand that he still held over his heart. He looked up at her, his hazel eyes glimmering.
“We’ll be just fine,” she whispered. “Please, stay, Søren. Stay in the west.”
He stared at her, and then after what seemed like ages, he finally nodded. Elvi smiled and gently pulled him back toward the gate.
And he let her.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Katie Johnston
    Jun 19, 2014 @ 13:18:24

    asdfghjkl blubbering blubbering sniff <3

    Like

    Reply

  2. Gabi M.
    Jun 26, 2014 @ 15:32:44

    I read it while listening to the song, which is the best way! You are truly talented. Keep the stories coming :)

    Like

    Reply

  3. Angelina Zoe
    Jul 05, 2014 @ 16:25:54

    Hi Mary P.J. I’ve nominated you for the Liester award. Go to my blog for more information. http://atouchofrandomness.blogspot.com/2014/07/liebster-award-nomination.html

    ~Angelina Zoe

    Like

    Reply

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