Monsters come in many forms, and not everyone knows a monster when they see one. After three hundred years of monstrous, feral elves plaguing the island nation of Selkirk, everyone believes they know what a monster is. Humans have learned to live with their savage neighbors, enacting a Clearing every four years to push the elves back from their borders. The system has worked for centuries, until after one such purge, a babe was found in the forest.
As Tallis grows, she discovers she isn’t like everyone else. There is something a little different that makes people leery in her presence, and she only ever makes a handful of friends. But when the elves gather their forces and emerge from the forests literally hissing Tallis’s name like a battle mantra, making friends is the least of her troubles. Tallis and her companions find themselves on an unwilling journey to not only clear her name, but to stop the elves from ravaging her homeland.
Tallis’s mind was racing as they went. There was something much bigger than anything they had anticipated at work here. She just didn’t know what it was. She was holding so many pieces of the puzzle and yet none of them fit together to make a whole picture, and yet, she was somehow in the center of it all.
As she walked beside her cousin, weapons at the ready, she whispered, “Why haven’t we come across more elves?”
Donovan gave her a strange look. “What? The ones we have come across haven’t been enough for you?”
“But that’s just it,” Tallis added quickly. “We’ve really only encountered the one and a score of deranged animals. Everyone says that the forests are crawling with elves when you get this far in, and yet we’ve seen blessed few. Doesn’t this seem, I don’t know, just a little bit odd to you?”
Donovan was silent for a long while. Tallis could not tell if he found her questions annoying because they were silly, or because they genuinely caused him pause.
Just as Tallis gave up that her cousin would ever respond to her, he said, “Ever since Aunt Lana died I have said that the elves were changing in their behavior. For whatever reason, they were going back to old camp sites and deciding to fight to the death rather than flee like they used to. For three years I’ve had to listen to my commanding officers and even my fellow knights tell me I was delusional, and I would be stripped of my position if I kept harping on about being vigilant against a threat they couldn’t see. Even you seemed reluctant to believe me when I said that danger was approaching. But now you see it, the elves are seeping across Selkirk like a wave that cannot be stopped until it has washed its corruption over everything we hold dear. I don’t find this behavior odd Tallis, I find it expected.”