"What's this one's name, Mama?" The girl would ask, holding forth the tiny creature she had caught in her hands.
"That's a caterpillar dear. One day it will wrap itself in a shell and it will begin changing into something beautiful, just like you will, sweetie." Her mother had smiled and tapped the girl on the nose, ushering her back outside to play.
On another day, the tiny girl found her mother weeding in the garden. "What is this one called, Mama?" In her tiny black hand the young elf girl held a small eight-legged creature she had plucked from its web.
Her mother gasped when she saw the creature and her violet eyes looked hard at her daughter. "That is a very bad thing, honey. You must never touch it or anything like it again, and tell mommy or daddy if you see it."
The young girl was surprised at her mother's reaction "But, he seems friendly enough, Ma-"
Her mother cut her off, "Never touch it! Never go near it, Ezranel. It has eight eyes to see you wherever you are and eight legs to grab you. Never, sweetie, promise me. Promise this to Mommy."
Ezranel had always admired how her mother's white hair shone in the sun. It seemed nearly to glow with the radiance of the bright orb above and highlight the beautiful contours of her ebony skin. She had told Ezranel that she would grow up and be strong like her mother, but wise and even-tempered like her father. However at that moment, Ezranel could only think of how the flames' light on her mother's hair reminded her of the sun. The pool of blood on the house's floor didn't register with her, nor did the shouts and course jeers from the pale elves outside. Ezranel had never known any other two-legged creatures in all her short life, but when these pale elves came to their homestead, they brought no gifts or friendship, only curses and torches. They had lived in peace for seventy years, but someone had deemed that that must end.
A crackling sound brought her watering eyes to the figure her father had carved, the elven woman in a dancing pose holding a sword like the one her father used to hunt. The black paint around her feet was beginning to crack and curl as the heat of the fire consumed it and Ezranel shed heavy silent tears. She once thought the figure was of her mother, but her father told her no, that it was the moon goddess, and it was by her grace that they lived as they did. Ezranel's body was beginning to resemble that of the figurine and her mother had begun recently to teach her to do the beautiful dances she performed each night. Ezranel wasn't very skilled yet, but now who would teach her?
The smoke choked her and refocused her senses, the fire was very hot, but she should be able to reach the tiny hatch her father had built into the back of the house. He told her that if there was ever danger in the house, she could leave through that hatch, and now was definitely a dangerous time. The pale-skinned elves did not see her escape. They did not see her running into the forest. They did not see her tears reflecting the moonlight as she sat curled up, clearing tracks in the soot on her face.
The cold sweat broke her from her reverie. She had slipped into her nightly trance again while staring at the fire. Around her her companions slept peacefully, the wizard standing off a ways, scanning the area. He had been the one to show her the most care in his own tough way since she had decided to reveal her face and skin to anyone. She reached for the white mask fitted in as the faceplate of her helm. Ever since she had returned to life, the memories of her parents had haunted her dreams all too frequently. Ezranel gazed up at the moon, waxing gibbous above her, and she stood and began stripping off her clothes, save for the symbol of the dancing elf she wore as a pendant. She picked up her enchanted scythe and walked to the mage.
"Mythiras, I'll take over the watch, get some rest."
He grumbled and stalked back to the fire. He had become the only elf that she had ever trusted in the decades since that terrible night, and she was glad to have him as a friend. Slowly she began the dance, the graceful steps that she used nightly to honor the moon goddess. Her world had become so large, but that was okay. She had found friends that kept things in perspective.