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Shiravinal was just a little elf. A Low Court elf, one tied to her grove and with a little power of her own.

She was never going to be one of the great mages, or even a good knight. It wasn’t something that she was built for, and that was all right for Shiravinal. Her life was pretty good as it was.

The elf had the good fortune, in her mind, to have a school built by the local grove. Most of the low court elves enjoyed that fact. There were plenty of places to hang out and entertain themselves with the endless imagination of the humans.

Shiravinal was a little different. Most of the low court elves were spacey, more given to the entertainment of the moment than anything else. She, on the other hand, had found herself drawn to the school and the children that went there.

They were very young, the human children. The school next to her was what they called and elementary school. So it housed the youngest ones there.

Shiravinal liked to play there. She used what little magics she had to blend in. The adults would look past her, as she looked very young herself. And the children all knew she was something special.

She let them see things, magic in the world and harmless mischief in life. It was good for both sides of the group. Elves adored children, given how rare they were, and children loved to know secrets. Keeping the elf that sometimes came in and helped them with things when the teacher was busy, or distracted? A wonderful secret to keep.

And life was good for the little elf who found herself in what she could only say was her perfect life. What need did she have for the great powers of magic or strength that those of the High Court possessed? She had everything here that she could want or need.

Then came the day when all of that changed.

It was a good day, bright and shining. The children were happy, the sun was bright. The class was full of laughter and contentment.

Then the first shot rang out.

It wasn’t in their room, but all of them heard the screams as another shot was fired. The teacher, Miss. Grange, went white and pale.

“Come on, children,” she said, moving to the door. Flipping the switch, she looked at them. “To the corner.”

There were windows there, but it would take a few minutes to open them. Then she’d have to drop each of the children out, one at a time. There was also no way that Miss. Grange herself would fit through the window. They opened, but not that much.

Shiravinal knew what she needed to do. These were -her- children. This was -her- territory.

She only had a tiny gift, but she was determined to use it as best she could.

The elf could hear the human teacher gasp as she suddenly appeared as she truly was. No human was she. But this was no time to hide. “Hurry,” she said to Miss. Grange. “You must get them to safety.”

And Shiravinal poured her her magic. The shots were coming closer, and she could feel a thick pressure against her skin. In this room, one reason she had picked it, there was almost no iron. It was all woods and fabric. Natural. But the guns that were coming closer were no such thing.

It ached, against her magic, but Shiravinal pushed her power out anyway. The person who had come to hurt her children would not see Miss. Grange putting them out through the window. He would not see the teacher herself, trapped with no escape.

No, he would see an empty classroom. His chosen prey already gone.

It hurt, and Shiravinal felt something pulling at her insides as she poured everything she could into the magic. It had to hold up. While she couldn’t touch the man himself with the power, she could wrap everything in this room with it.

Behind her, Miss. Grunge was doing as asked. She was picking up the kids, slipping them out as quickly as she could. If Shiravinal looked out the window, she could see them running for the edges of the playground, towards safety.

Her bones ached, and she saw the face of the man who would kill her children. The feel of iron made her teeth throb, made pain stab through her skull.

Inside, she could feel her magic flex, fray. But she forced it to stay strong. She could feel it bleeding out inside of her, but pure will kept her focused.

She was one of the Low Court. Weak and flighty. But not right now. Right now, she would be the wall that her children needed to survive.

The man looked into the room. He opened the door.

A glance around.

He turned, and left.

Shiravinal almost wept as he walked away. But even as he move away, she could feel that aching, terrible pull of power pouring out of her.

She was a small elf. Nothing so powerful as one of the knights. One of the Magus Majors.

A hand caught her as she started to fall. She’d broken her magic, forcing it like that. Her spells should have never stood up to that amount of iron as those guns held. It cost her, the forcing of her powers, that way.

She could feel what she was seeping out of her. The loss of what was hers.

In the distance, she heard Miss. Grunge talking to her, a hand that was hot on her skin tapping her face.

Then she heard something else. The call of a horn.

They were on a grove. Of course one of the more powerful would have felt the childrens fear.

They would deal with this man who hunted children. But Shiravinal was proud of what she had done.

Everything went black and hazy for a long time. Then she woke up in what was obviously a healing hall Underhill.

She was a hero, now. A little low court elf who had torn her magic apart to save children. It was the sort of story that elves loved.

It hurt, having what little magic she have be gone. She’d never be able to leave Underhill again. The children she had given everything for would never see her flitting around the corners of the classroom. Never have her whisper secrets and answers again to them.

But they would live. That was the comfort that would keep her going.

Her children, those bright and messy mortals, would survive.

That was worth every bit of her magic.