The first memory that Ellana could recall at first was being carried. She remembered the crunch of leaves and branches, the smell of the woods, cool air brushing her face. She recalled the soft fabric that had been wrapped around her, the sunlight warm on her cheeks, the warmth of the person carrying her close to their chest. She could hear his heartbeat and the slow and steady breaths he took. She remembered that in this memory, she knew who he was. The thought always brought both comfort and sadness to the forefront, but she could not recall exactly why.
She stirred and shifted her feet, moved her arms but found herself practically cocooned in fabric that smelled of old books and a slight spice. She didn't move much but it seemed to attract the attention of the man holding her. A low and melodic voice murmured something that she couldn't make out, and the arm holding her tightened slightly to tuck her in further against him. She was warm and felt safe. She recognized that voice.
Eventually the man's pace slowed and she began to smell the scent of a campfire. Voices, wary but marginally friendly, came from a distance but sounded so loud to her ears. Impossibly loud. Voices weren't supposed to sound so . . . big. She remembers trying to say something - voice a complaint about the size of the noise - but all that came out was a small garbled cry.
Her voice . . . What was wrong with her voice?
Her eyes opened and the brightness immediately had her scrunching her face, a noise that sounded suspicously like a distressed squeak escaped her lips. She tried to move her arms, her legs, but the cloth kept her limbs relatively still. The images that she saw were blurry, bright, moving and so incredibly large. The sudden sense of wrongness was so beyond intense that her next distressed cry was louder, drawing a soft string of words from the man holding her. She remembered trying to focus her eyes on him as she listened to him, still trying to free her arms. Finally, a moment came when her eyesight momentarily focused on his eyes.
Blue, gray, and violet. Soft and gentle in expression, so much sorrow underneath. Familiar eyes. She could recall them, but could no longer remember the name attached to them. And she had known it only moments before. His eyes looked different, so very different but still so familiar. She remembered finally freeing her arm and trying to reach for his face . . .
. . . and saw a tiny little hand reach out.
She remembered confusion. Panic and distress. She remembered thinking that could not be her hand. It was too small, far too small. And that hand . . . that hand shouldn't BE there. It had been gone. Her whole arm had been missing . . . before . . . there was pain and light . . . before . . .
She couldn't remember. She couldn't remember anything from before. And suddenly she was being rocked, the arm holding her shifting and moving gently. Soothing tones in her ears from that familiar voice and a gentle press of familiar lips to her brow. She should have been comforted, but she remembered only feeling the wrongness of everything. Something was wrong with her. She was small. She couldn't remember but she knew, beyond any doubt, that she should not be small. She should be bigger. She should be like them! She should be standing next to them. She had stood that tall before . . .
. . . hadn't she?
The rocking and soothing voice continued, but the words seemed to take on a different tone. The man was talking to two others, the ones with big voices. She couldn't understand the words no matter how hard she tried. She reached out and grasped for him. Her impossibly small fingers catched briefly on the soft fur of a pelt before it slipped away as she was lifted and handed off to another arm attached to different smells and a different voice. Cradled again against a different chest, rocked and gently bounced as one of the big voices softened and cooed in contrast to her confused and increasingly distressed cries.
She remembers seeing the blurry figure of the familiar man turning to leave and then pausing before uttering words that she finally understood. Words that she would cling to, remembered in that voice so hauntingly familiar that she would obsess over it as the years passed. A voice that brought her comfort and sorrow in equal measure, and for the majority of her life she would not remember why.
"Her name is . . . Ellana. I ask that you keep her name. It was important to her, and to those who loved her."
With the man's departure, her first memory ends.