Elise shivered in the dark morning. The sun had yet to rise and the sea wind was making the young woman cold. She tugged on her furs and looked over at her younger siblings. Both her brother and sister were sleeping peacefully, too young and naive to know what they had just volunteered for.
She started walking the deck to try and keep warm, and eventually ended up at the bow looking out over the dark ocean. She stared out east ans saw the sky turning orange as the sun prepared itself to rise above the waves. A dark and foreboding feeling over took her as she looked out over the waves. The water shimmered from the stars and moon, but in the distance a shadow dominated the horizon.
She felt someone step up beside her and she turned to see a hooded figure next to her. The woman did not look at her, but just stared out into the distance. The wind blew strong into their faces, and Elise grabbed her hood to keep it up and her head warm. The woman just let her cloak billow in the wind and her hood fell away, allowing her snow white hair to steam out. Elise saw that a glow was in the Elf’s eye as she continued to stare out to sea and at the shadow they were approaching.
‘Do you see it?’ she spoke suddenly that it caught Elise off guard. The young woman said nothing, more shocked at being addressed by such a legendary figure. ‘There!’ the Elf raised her hand and pointed into the distance, ‘The blessed isle. The island given by Soncho to the faithful!’
As she spoke the sun crested over the horizon and its rays illuminated the shadow making Elise gasp. There the winter sun shone upon the island of Howaito Shima. Elise had read much about the homeland of the Elves, but seeing it in person, and as one of the few Humans alive to say they had seen the island.
A strong wind blew the made Elise shiver uncontrollably. Snow began to billow around her as the temperature dropped. Looking up she saw no clouds in the sky and to her amazement icicles were forming on the rigging above them.
A hand came in from behind and pulled Elise back, where she instantly felt the cold retreat. Her mother threw her to her siblings that had woken up, ‘Stay there!’
Elise watched as her adopted mother shivered as she came up to the Elf sorceress. She spoke into her ear and the Elf calmed down. The wind died down and the snow stopped. Elise heard the sailors curse as they struggled in the ice covering the ship.
The Elf woman continued to stare intently over the bow towards Howaito Shima. Elise had know Kori Bomei-Kuttsuka for almost ten years, since she was adopted as a girl by her mother, but never had she seen her power on display like that. Kori remained at the bow while Catarina Sforno walked back to her children. ‘How are you doing? No frostbite?’
Elise shook her head as her mother rubbed her arms to warm her. She turned to look at her friend before looking back at her children, ‘None of us can know how she feels. To see the homeland that she has never seen before. We have all grown up with a home. She has never had a home. For over one hundred and fifty years she has lived as an exile among those who were her peoples enemies.’
Elise’s siblings looked at their mother with awe, and at Kori. The Elf had always been the kindly Elf aunt who cooked delicious meals and told amazing stories. Now they saw her for who she really was, an exile, a sorceress, an Elf of Howaito Shima.
Kori turned to Catarina, ‘See you ashore.’ and lept overboard into the icy waters, leaving her cloak behind. Elise’s sister yelp in fear but Catarina took the girl and hugged her, leading them to the railing to watch the Elf. ‘Do not fear. She is winter. The ice and water cannot harm her, the daughter of Soncho.’
They watched as Kori swam to the island and the sun illuminated the land. She staggered onto the beach and walked onto the grass, dropped to her knees and began to shake as she cried. Catarina turned to her children, ‘Gather your things, we will go ashore shortly.’
Catarina walked up to Kori as she buried her hands in the dirt of her homeland. She tossed her gear down in front of her, ‘You’re here now. Time to fight for what is yours.’ Kori stood grabbing her harpoon, ‘And I shall not leave, until it is free once more. Come, the Bomei are waiting for us.’ They marched into woods where Civil War for Howaito Shima was being wagged.