He was running as fast as his legs could take him. His arms ached from their sway, and his calves throbbed from exhaustion, but he couldn’t stop. There were too many lives to be saved, he swore.
Something is coming.
Yet, despite his will, he stumbled into the overgrowth under himself and instantly tasted the earthy musk of soil between his teeth. The thicker patches always made it difficult to run smoothly, and he hadn’t the time to tread carefully. They needed to know.
Something is coming.
Quell dug his nails deep into the loosened bits of dirt with a groan. Too much was at stake. Twenty minutes of running wasn’t all he had. There had to be more. Why would he be given the warning if he wasn’t to be the one who delivered it? No others were capable, he convinced himself. Living alone had its pros as a Half-Breed. He often saw what others could not. While he routinely kept his sights to himself, this one was intended to be shared.
Something is coming, it echoed.
Quell shot to his feet without hesitation and started his run again. There was no destination to be set, no goal for him to achieve, but he knew he had to keep going. Even if his feet blistered from racing bare, it had to be done. Someone else had to know. The Half-Breed did not have a care as to who, either. The importance was in his message.
Something is coming, it rang again.
With inconsistent huffs, Quell began to realize that his body was going as far as it could. His limbs were too numb to carry him farther at such a hurried speed. If he didn’t concede, the Half-Breed understood that he would collapse completely. That was far from acceptable, and with the absence of movement in mind, he slowed to a wobbling limp. His heart began to suffer at the lack of pace as the overwhelming tiredness sank its teeth into him.
He'd settled for tripping and skipping despite the frustration it brought him, because it was still an act of movement. It was half his mission, after all.
Something is coming, the voice reminded him.
“I know!” he cried out to the sky. “But what is it? What is coming?”
Silenccceeee, it hissed.
Quell went quiet but forced himself to continue forward. The others that dwelled in the village would need more information, but he hoped his frantic urgency would serve as enough.
He pressed on in a near-crawl toward the village he was meant to warn—the village that once served as his home. Though he had been outcasted centuries ago, he still felt a duty to them. They were the same kind, after all. So, there was an internal duty whether he wanted it or not.
To admit he’d ran to warn his people without hesitation would have been a lie. They’d spent days and nights torturing him for his differences. Instead of harvesting, cultivating, gathering, and providing for those that lived beyond their cozy forest, he wanted to create—disturb what his people considered to be a natural order of things. Despite his traditional upbringing, Quell held onto the belief that his people deserved more than the servitude they assigned themselves long before his birth—even his grandparents’ births.
Don’t forget, the voice murmured. Something is coming.
By nightfall, the Half-Breed reached the village. It sat as it always had with repairs made to the tiny houses he’d known so well. With great relief, he sighed. He’d finally made it, but it wasn’t the time for celebration. There was still the message to tell.
He staggered down the hill’s peak, skinning his shins and knees as he went, before he finally touched the bottom. Further exhaustion plagued him, but he had a duty to uphold. Dragging himself along the cobblestone, at the center of his village, Quell dropped to his knees heaving and coughing.
“It is here!” he cried loudly. “The time has come!”
He did not hear a shift or rattle in any home.
Something is coming.
“Something is coming!” he howled.
Still, not a rustle came his way.
Tears filled Quell’s eyes as he realized that no one would come to his aid or hear the words he had to offer. He’d made the day’s trek for dismissal. He hoped, so long as he persisted, someone would at least venture out to shut him up.
“Something is coming!” he screamed again.
Not even an echo of annoyance.
Quell shoved his feet back under his body. His only way to convey his sincerity was to bang on doors. It was all the Half-Breed had left!
Something is coming.
With that, he managed his way to the first door he saw. Messily, he banged and banged with a mustered strength. They had to know. Someone, somewhere had to be made aware of his message. Even as he recalled his mistreatment, he didn’t want his people to be wiped from existence. It wasn’t fair for him to live without the community, and it wasn’t fair to them to remain ignorant.
Though he suffered, the Half-Breeds were a peaceful people. They were meek providers and nothing more. They grew their goods and sent them off on wagons to the elves in nearby cities. Never an issue befell his people until he’d heard the voice.
Something is coming.
Again, he stumbled to the next house, tarnishing the freshly grown grass with his heavy stumbling and began another fit of knocking. “Please! It is coming. I will let you stay on my land. Though you have outcasted me and left me to live my days in a solitude you saw fit, I will protect and keep you safe. I will extend to you the nutrients in my soil so you may continue with your work. You may provide the Elves as you always have, and I will not utter a negative or argumentative word on the subject! I just want you all to fall into safety!”
Something is coming!
By the fifth home, Quell broke into a pit of hopelessness. No one would listen. None of his people were to be saved. A wailing mess blinded the Half-Breed’s senses. His forehead buried into the greenery at the side of another’s doorstep, his shins folded underneath his lower torso, his tears making the grass itch his cheeks in a way he knew would give him a rash, kept him from looking up.
“Quell Panra,” a deep voice called.
The Half-Breed’s tears paused at the sound of another voice. It had not been one of his people as the men of the Half-Breeds possessed mild-toned voices that never carried a commanding depth such as the one near him.
“The Half-Breeds succumbed to an illness long ago.”
Quell’s ears twitched, and he looked up with tears still flowing past his jaw. “What do you mean, Elf?”
“I mean as I say,” he replied. “The Half-Breeds of Falnra fell many centuries ago. You were there.”
Quell shook his head frantically. “That cannot be! I have dwelt among our wildlands for a number of centuries and heard their joyful chatter as a whispering echo from atop my hill. They harvest at six o’clock in the morning, gather at nine, and load their wagons for our drivers at noon so the whole village may get a restful sleep.”
“And that has long since passed,” the Elf explained. “You have lived atop your hill. That has stood true. However, your recollection has faltered into fantasy.”
Quell’s eyes widened. “Are you insinuating that I am mad?”
The Elf shook his head, “Not at all. I believe you are in a depth of mourning no one could ever begin to describe.” The Elf approached with caution but with a care that did not send Quell running for cover. “You have carried a guilt. And every year, on the date of your peoples’ extinction, you sprint your heart out down to the village, and you warn them of the deaths they suffered long ago.”
“What are you saying?” Quell spat.
“I am saying,” the Elf sighed, “there are no more Half-Breeds of Falnra.”
“You lie!” Quell hollered.
Sadly, the Elf shook his head a second time. “I am afraid that I have spoken the truth. The Half-Breeds of Falnra have fallen, except for you. The reason you live in your wildlands is not an act of abandonment. You ran to survive the fever under your father’s direction. Never were you an outcast, never did your people discard you. You have simply…survived.”
Quell found the anger fall from him as the flashes of his true past flooded his mind.
Every Half-Breed went from their happiness to a great level of suffering. The crops began to fail, shipments became delayed, and everything about his people died away at a painful slowness. It had been a fever that had taken his people, but it had never been given a name. The fever was just something that pursued his people until they were no more.
“I don’t want it to be real,” he started to sob.
“I am sorry to say that it cannot be undone. They cannot be willed back into existence. All that can be hoped for is your acceptance, Quell Panra.”
“I don’t believe I ever will,” Quell admitted. “I will never believe that my people are all gone. I will believe that they may return with the evolution of time.”
“Then,” the Elf breathed, “our conversation will carry as such for centuries to come. If it has not changed for this long, there is no hope for an evolution. Maybe, one day—”
“They will return,” Quell declared. “I will not accept your explanation.”
“So be it.” The Elf tuned on his heel. “I will see you next year, Quell Panra. Yet, I will hope in a way I have always. May I find you in your home on this day before your death.”