Not much action here... couldn't figure out a way to spice it up. Next part should be more exciting.
The sight of the once great forest brought a tear to Shenshen’s eye, and her heart went out to the Wolfrider. If something so devastating had happened to her home, she didn’t know that she would be able to hold up so well.
The three allowed Pike his look around, to see what had changed and what was left, but soon they had to get down to business. After a long time searching, they managed to find a very small stream of water, which Pike insisted used to be much bigger. They emptied what water sacks that held the dreamberry drink that they had stolen, and filled them up with water. Food was harder to find; not even Hotburr could sense anything, not even a mouse. Rayek became frustrated, despite Ekuar’s insistence on patience, and headed in the opposite direction from where he thought the Sun Village was in hopes of finding someplace that wasn’t covered in ash.
They traveled towards sun-goes-down for days, Ekuar riding on Hotburr to save on time, and found little. On the second day, they spotted a hawk, and Rayek used a rock and his powers to knock it unconscious. They shared the meal in silence, and continued on. Very little was said, except at the end of the day when they rested; Pike and Shenshen had made it a habit to tell stories before they slept. Since their exit from the Troll Caverns, this had stayed the same, and even Ekuar joined in on occasion. The elves from three cultures and histories found they had a lot to share and learn. And though Rayek would never join in, he would listen once in a while.
Soon they came across open grassland, which at least had some small game that the two hunters and the wolf were able to catch enough of to full their empty bellies. Even Shenshen was able to catch one ravvit, after many tries. But Rayek wasn’t satisfied. He was driven onward by and unknown force, though Pike suspected it was pride and the will to get as far away from the Sun Village as possible.
Once there was again food for the travelers, the training for both Rayek and Shenshen began again. They both insisted that now there was no absolute need to keep going, they could sacrifice a few hours a day for Ekuar to train Rayek in his powers, and Pike to teach Shenshen. Leetah’s sister was driven even more after their ”˜hunt,’ and didn’t want to feel helpless again. She wanted to be able to get her own food, and help the entire group.
Pike did as she asked and followed her and Rayek without question, but the further they got from Sorrow’s End, the more the worried they would not be able to keep their promise to Leetah, and be back in a year.
The compatibility of the group was lacking some as well; Rayek didn’t seem to care for Pike or his wolf, and only tolerated Shenshen, probably because he knew her. He seemed to only befriend Ekuar, though Pike couldn’t figure out why they clicked so easily. He and Shenshen got along wonderfully, so much so that when they slept, she tended to snuggle up next to him and Hotburr without so much as a second thought. She was cheerful and upbeat, which helped Pike stay his usual self when he wanted to scowl all day at Rayek. And he and Ekuar tended to get along just fine as well; Anytime Rayek stormed off after snapping at the Wolfrider, Ekuar would only chuckle and mention that he just needed some time alone.
So it really was just Rayek mucking it all up.
After a moon of traveling, Pike spoke up and asked why Shenshen was still following Rayek. “All you two do is argue.”
Shenshen let out what sound like a fake giggle. “We’re courting. He’ll come around.”
“Courting?” Pike wrinkled his nose. “You’re as bad as your sister. I just don’t understand why you Sun Folk don’t just say what you mean, and take what you want.”
She frowned at this. “It’s not that simple!”
He stared at her for a long time, and she glared back, but she didn’t answer. After a moment, she turned around, and left to go forage for anything useful. Pike just shook his head.
Another moon passed, and Rayek made a breakthrough in his magic. He could lift an elf, including himself, giving him the power of flight. Shenshen thought it was a wonderful thing and turned to tears, and for once, Rayek seemed joyful. To Pike, it was amazing, but nothing to make this much fuss about.
Rayek began testing his flight by lifting himself during traveling. At first, he could only do it a short while, but the more he flew, the longer it lasted. Finally, he started carrying someone, usually Ekuar or Shenshen, never Pike, with him to see how long he could do that, while the other two rode Hotburr. They made good time that way, and soon came to a forest.
It wasn’t the Holt; it was much wetter and denser and darker, but it was a forest. The moment Pike and Hotburr spotted the trees in the distance, they sped up to meet them. Shenshen who was riding with the Wolfrider at the time, was surprised at the burst of speed, but held on tightly.
The change was amazing. Once in the forest, Pike was joyful and energetic, and Hotburr couldn’t seem to stop running and jumping and playing in the leaves on the forest floor. His three companions had mixed reactions to the new surroundings; Shenshen was awed, but curious, and amused at the Wolfrider, Ekuar seemed at peace, and Rayek seemed cautious. He complained about the wet feeling it the air, and the closed-in feel of the trees.
“I don’t like this.” He said after a few hours, “It feels like there’s a living presence here.”
Ekuar laughed. “There were elves here.” He placed his hand on a nearby rock. “They were rock-shapers too.”
“Other elves?” Rayek looked around. “Like us?”
Shenshen clapped her hands. “Why not? The Wolfriders were out there, why not others?”
But Ekuar shook his head. “Whatever elves were here, are long gone.”
After that, the travelers were quiet and continued moving. Pike soon mumbled just loud enough for all hear, “Be careful. Remember the story of Madcoil? He was created from a pocket of old magic gone bad. We don’t want to find the same here.” At that, even Rayek kept a hand on his dagger.