Young Jeron Melve'len stood barefoot and bleeding in the snow and considered that moment to be the end of his life.
His body did not collapse, though the pain he currently endured certainly made him wish it. Deep lash wounds marred his dusky, grey-brown skin, still gaping and seeping with blood. All he wore was a tattered pair of trousers; an unrelenting chill seized his body in shivers from his feet to his pointed ears, a testament to his elf lineage. He had to hold himself upright against a tree just to stand; his knees shook with the threat of his weakness.
But he did not die, much as he wanted to. His heart beat fiercely against his chest; this and the facial expression of horror and remorse were the only indicators of his dismay. His lungs still drew sharp, shredding breath. His mind still functioned, reeling over the scene before him.
He stood at the edge of the forest, his silver hair and the white snow reflecting the eerily still, dim lantern lights of the village. The scene would have been tranquil - a small, sleepy village nestled cozily in the snow in the dead of a winter's night, the comforting, crisp scent of active wood fireplaces high in the air. Jeron's focus, however, lay entirely on what shattered the serenity of the setting. A robed and masked figure, long, unruly red hair bound back, grasping a staff pulsating with a sickly purple haze, stood over the body of Jeron's one and only friend.
Maura, a young human girl, was the only person in Jeron's life who overlooked the silver hair, pointed ears and dusky skin accompanied with the brown eyes and taller, slightly broader physique that marked him a half drow. Abomination. Most humans feared Jeron's possible connections to the sinister, conniving drow. Jeron, however, was born and raised on the surface, by his human mother, having never seen a drow in his young life. Many assumed Jeron was inherently just as sinister as his parental lineage would suggest, thus must be dispatched before he would grow up to be a real threat. Jeron had no skill to fight. Maura was a prodigy as an up-and-coming mage, marking her as different from the rest of the village despite being liked by most. She was able to identify with Jeron's isolation. She saw the boy simply as Jeron, the clever, witty, fun friend who so happened to also be part-elf. When Jeron's naiveté resulted in his recent capture by the village guards, Maura used her mage talent against neighbors and family friends to save his life.
And now she lay dead on the snow, lightless eyes staring out into oblivion, snow collecting unmelted on her scorched and battered body. Jeron, an outcast in society, could not imagine living life without Maura, the only person he truly cared for. To live from this point forward would be, to him, merely an existence.
Jeron wanted to scream his rage and anguish. He wanted to charge forth, tear out the flesh of the person that killed her, stain the snow red with that person's guilty blood. But he had no combat skills - physical, magical or otherwise. He had no weapon. He could barely stand and he knew that the cloaked figure was a powerful mage; Jeron would be dead before being close enough to touch the culprit. The only thing he was good at was fleeing, and hiding.
So, when his blood boiled and his lungs swelled to bellow his rage, he instead emitted short, ragged gasps, his breath misting the air in large, quick puffs. His legs, taut with the urge to spring forward to carry out his vengeance, instead drew him to step backward, shrouding himself in forest shadow. Each retreat backward was like a blow to his heart - he felt like he was betraying Maura. His guilt anguished him - what sort of friend was he that he was unable to protect her, keep her alive?
The direction of the masked figure's gaze turned Jeron's way; though he could not see a face, and though they were several yards apart, Jeron felt certain he had been spotted. A sort of artificial chill, different but no less jarring than the biting cold air, seeped through him; Jeron turned and stumbled in the snow, leaving blood and tracks behind. He did not want to leave Maura behind, her body exposed and untended to so, but every instinct of his being drove him to get away from that gaze despite the sensations from the binding cold, inflamed cuts, aching muscles, searing bones.
Jeron would have been undoubtedly easy to track if anyone chose to pursue him to finish his life. It would not be until many years later that he would finally learn why he was allowed to escape...