This flashback was cut from A Threat of Shadows.
It was the original introduction to the elf, Ayda, that was later deemed unnecessary. It was also one of the very first scenes ever written in Alaric’s world.
There may have been a tear shed when it was cut from the book.
Ayda raced through the elven woods, the trees thinning as the ground dropped.
A great willow with branches spanning a wide creek whispered a familiar greeting to the elf as she caught her balance against its trunk. Ayda ignored it and continued through the woods. She glanced over her shoulder, searching for signs of the darkness. The woods spread out behind her, bathed in sunlight, but the branches of the smaller trees trembled.
She pulled up short at the edge of the forest.
Before her the hills were full of grasses, tiny animals and diving birds. Ayda’s mind swept across the landscape feeling the sparse flutters of life spread across it. So much emptiness.
Behind her the enveloping life of the forest whispered to her, desperate and afraid.
Her moment of hesitation turned into a minute. Then longer.
A breeze ruffled the grass. It skipped closer until it swirled tentatively around her feet, tinkling the crystals at the hem of her robe.
The noise caught her attention and she blinked. She looked down at what she wore for a long moment. She ran shaking hands over the shimmering silver fabric. With a quick tug she ripped off one of the thousands of crystals and held it up before her. The clear stone was smooth and shaped like a shade-lily bud. Her mother’s favorite flower.
A sob tore out of her as she fell to her knees, the crystal clenched in her hand. Tears streaming down her face, she opened her fist and fixed the gem with an angry gaze.
The little crystal lay unperturbed in her hand for a moment and then began to cloud up, as though it filled with smoke. The center of the bud bulged and, with a flash of light, burst into a tongue of flame.
With a shriek Ayda flung it from her hand. The flame fell to the ground and ignited the grass. The forest murmured uneasily.
She stamped out the flames and stared in disbelief at her unharmed palm.
Clenching her eyes shut, she saw again her father’s face. It was bright and pure compared to the darkness that approached from behind him.
“It was our only choice, Ayda,” he had said, both an explanation and an apology.
The darkness had drawn closer still and he had pushed her away, fear creeping into his face for the first time. “Run!”
Ayda’s eyes flew open as she stood at the edge of the grassland.
Shutting herself off to the call of the forest behind her, she ran.
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