Here are the elements for May:
-something with spring (cleaning/happy/life waking up)
All works must be related to Elfquest, whether canon-based, original character, alternate universe, or whatever. Writings must contain all the above elements. Art can either contain all the elements, or illustrate one of the writings.
Index of Previous Grab-bags
Effective! You made excellent use of your characters, Tymber.
"By any means" is a bad rule when you handle with a treeshaper The Wolfriders have observed well, drawn clever conclusions, play their aces well - and got two for the price of one! Guess it was not the last time we've met these schemers, tho.
A fun read once more!
I was scared for what might could happen in the story. But it's good that everything is okey for now. I was worried for Vineweaver and for Shadow in their fights. Can't wait to what happens next time. Too bad it's so long for June.
You can almost hear Branchsnapper think 'omg this does not go according to plan... not at all!' When Vineweaver starts his magic
Wonderful use of the elements, you scared me too, but it all worked out in the end!! Great job!!!
Knowing that this will have an sooner or (hopefully) later end is sad (not unexcpected) news.
But I'm pleased and more than happy that you bother to bring it to an end at all, Tymber!
Ehm ... in case you are planning something similar to your "alternate universe" story - they shall haunt you forever!
END IT ALL??? WHYYYYYYYY.... they should haunt you FOREVER!!!
*hugs Tymber* Sad to hear that your EQ interest is waning because of that incident. I was hoping it wouldn't affect it that much
*deep sigh* oh well... if you have to end it... end it well.
End it? That will be sad. I've always enjoyed your Stonehowl Holt stories.
My muse needs a lot of poking this month, I'm afraid... at least for the grab-bag. I did get a random story out, it's in my writings thread. And there's also other stories for old grab-bags that you haven't read yet, Tymber! So go check them out already
Don't stop to poke my muse, Tymber. If I try to continue on my story now, then perhaps I can post my story early.
Continue to poke the muse, Tymber.
*shivers* Very beautiful portrait of that horrible scene!
(thanks for the poke. Embala has also delivered some good pokes to my muse through PM, I think muse will want to cooperate now )
*shivering* You described it all so well. The elements actually fit with that horrible scene from Elfquest. Good job, Tymber.
I hope to be done with my story soon. Perhaps I will be done before the weekend ends? So, could someone or everybody continue to poke my muse here?
And after that we needs something a little more light!
“Wake up, lazy head!”
Said Krim, full of joy.
But Pike just mumbled
and grumbled a lot.
“Wake up!” Krim repeated,
“Or no more dreamberries!”
This thread Pike couldn’t
just let ignored!
He jumped from the tree den,
only to be
met by the laughing face of his lifemate.
“That wasn’t fair!”
He said, quite begrudged.
“You know how much those berries mean to me.”
“Yes.” Said Krim, “that’s exactly my point;
you eat far too many of those violet berries!”
And Skot heard
his lifemates argue
and decided it was time
to give them a lesson.
During the Death Sleep
he had seen
Leetah make a storage of nuts.
Now he went there and grasped a back
packed to the prim of lovely nuts.
Then he returned and emptied to back
over the two elf down below.
The branch broke!
Sending Skot falling,
Landing on top of both Pike and Krim.
And there they lay laughing
and giggling with joy
for though they may argue
one thing holds true;
the love these three elves share will always survive!
You described it all so well!! It's a very beautiful.
( Thanks for the muses...I need them ^^)
^.^ Wonderful new submissions!
I got 3 (! ok 2 from Embala ) vague ideas slowly moving around in my head at the moment, but there's a lot running around up there right now too. Trying to calm it all down, get some stuff out of the way, so I'll hopefully get to writing soon... *fingers crossed*
I think it looks wonderful!!
ehhh...sorry, I might be blind, but what's the difference between this and the original?
None, that's why I asked if it counted
weeeellll.... I do believe it's less gray, more clear lines!
not by much...What did you change Startear?
I cut it out because I wanted to have it in a banner, but it refused to cooperate, and suddenly I saw the arguement prompt... I'll try the banner again
New banner? Well it fit perfectly with these two!
I am still struggeling... but I managed to do this...
This was excelent as well... I love photobucket
Awesome color on that!!
Yes, it was. It looked more... natrual in a way. Especially the eyes and such.
Heres the story from me. Thanks to Tymber for poking my muse. So... I hope everyone will enjoy.
Journey To The Past
Louros tossed and turned from side to side, pulled the blanket over her. She was half awake and half asleep. With one hand she searched after her lifemate, searched for his face to caress him and feel his strong arms hold her around her body. But she couldn’t find him.
“Lifemate?” she murmured before she turned over to the side and discovered that the other side of the bed was empty. She looked after him around in the chamber and she realized that she was alone. She lay down on the bed again to try to sleep again, but she couldn’t sleep. Something wasn’t right.
She lay quite still, trying to listen after the footsteps from her lifemate, but she didn’t heard any steps at all. It was quiet, too quiet.
She didn’t like this at all. She rose up from the bed and dressed herself in a green dress before she went out of the chamber. She had to know what happened now.
She moved through the hallways as she tried to look for what possibly happened. She didn’t find out something while she walked in those empty hallways. She didn’t discovered the eyes that followed her from the shadows.
She didn’t like it as she stopped for a moment. She didn’t like that silence that was around her. She didn’t want to be alone at all. Everything felt so cold. She was going to move forward, but then a hand covered her mouth and grabbed her arm. She tried to struggle herself free, but it was useless.
I have to get Louros and make sure that we’re getting out of here.
His left shoulder still hurts while he ran without to stop. But it wasn’t easy because of the pain and the blood that flowed. He had to bind the wound before he and Louros were in safer areas. It wasn’t safe for them now to wander around inside of The Shadow Mountain since The Dark Prince discovered what he had done only few minutes ago.
He recognized his surroundings and soon he was outside his chamber. He began to feel dizzy as he ran. The bleeding had to be stopped soon.
And once he reached the door, he tore them up and looked toward the bed. It was empty.
“Louros?” he whispered, fighting against the vertigo. He began to look in the chamber, but he couldn’t find Louros. The only thing he found was his dagger.
I need a weapon if I’m going to find Louros.
He turned and ran out of the chamber. This time he wouldn’t dare to try to send to Louros, so he had to do something else. He looked from right to left once he was out of the chamber. There was no one in the hallways.
He went three steps in the hallways before, unexpected, he felt a foot at his chest and he was sent straight into the wall. The surroundings spun around his head as he tried to regain his balance. He tried to walk a few steps before he was kicked in the side as he staggered backward and landed on the cold floor made of stone. He looked up at a ninja and reached for the dagger that lay a few meters away from him while the ninja jumped toward him. He was barely at his feet and blocked the Katana with the dagger, but again he was kicked in the chest and he rolled backward in the hallway.
He nearly lost his breath as he lay on the ground. He could almost hear the running feet coming toward him as he tried to stand up again, but collapsed. Panting, he rolled over on his back and then the ninja approached him. He held his legs up and kicked the ninja in the stomach when he was close enough. The kick sent the ninja back and it gave the elf time to stand up. He looked after his dagger while he barely ran. A glimpse of something shiny meant that he could it faster than he had imagined.
He saw the ninja who tried to stand up again. He decided to knock the ninja down so he could look for Louros and try to get away. With all his strength he tried to attack the ninja. His dagger gave some wounds during the battle, but the ninja lifted up his fist and hit the elf in his face and the pushed him away toward the wall with a powerful blow. The elf began to see stars blink in his eyes, but the pain in his left shoulder was enough to know that he was still alive.
As he regained his breath, he tried to listen for the running feet of the ninja as he stood up. The stars disappeared and he could barely see the ninja who approached him quiet quickly. He raised his right fist and after a few seconds he hit the ninja in the face and sent him backward. He looked down at the groaning ninja as he regained his breath.
He knelt down and picked up his dagger and tied it at his belt. But then, one powerful kick behind his back sent him forward and he rolled on the floor until he lay still. He had almost been unconscious, but he groaned and placed his hand at his head while he tried to look around. He looked up to some steps and the boots to The Dark Prince. Slowly he looked toward the leader of The Dark Ones.
“Nice try,” The Dark Prince said as he looked down.
“But you won’t stop us!”
The Dark Prince stepped to the side.
“I guarantee it!”
The Dark Prince looked up the stairs. The elf who lay on the floor could hear steps down the stairs. He saw a pair of black boots and the edge of a green dress. As he looked up, his eyes widened. She was bound together while the ninja covered her mouth with one hand and hold a Katana in the other. Her violet eyes showed that she was frightened. He rose up, but he felt weak.
“Let her go,” he said.
“You’re not the one who gives orders here,” The Dark Prince answered cold as he looked down at him. The elf tried to get his dagger that hung at his belt.
“Don’t move,” The Dark Prince shouted and pointed toward Louros.
“Or else it will go bad for your lifemate!”
“You wouldn’t,” the elf replied. He held his hand quietly, ready to grab his dagger.
“Really?” The Dark Prince answered and raised an eyebrow. The ninja who guarded Louros placed his Katana near her throat.
“If you touch your dagger, it’s goodbye to her!”
The Dark Prince actually threatens him. His hand trembled as his fingers almost toucjed the dagger. But when he saw the Katana almost touched Louros pale skin he drew his hand away. His body trembled as The Dark Prince thought that he had won. Suddenly the elf looked up to The Dark Prince and stormed towards him. The Dark Prince was prepared and sent a black sending to him. The elf screamed and slowly he fell at the floor in front of the feet to The Dark Prince.
Louros tried to scream when she saw her lifemate fell on the floor, but the hand in front of her mouth prevent that no sound came from her mouth.
“Get him away,” The Dark Prince ordered as he looked down at the unconscious elf. Two ninjas went to the elf and grabbed each arm and dragged him away. Then The Dark Prince waves away Louros and the ninja who guarded her and saw that she was pushed up the stairs. The Dark Prince was left alone with a deep silence.
It wasn’t the clammy heat under the blanket. Not the mild night air that blew across the window. Not the uncomfortable position that constantly shifted position.
No, it was the breath. The deep sighs and irregular that made his heart to beat faster. The breath was a revealing if one’s sleep was peaceful or scary. Optarhs dream that night was clearly a nightmare.
It was darkness everywhere. And one lonely elf that fought against a ninja. The elf fought to survival. His blood ran everywhere as he screamed of pain. Then he saw him. His skin that had a corpse with a touch of cool blue, his golden hair was dim as his eyes and was filled with hatred. His pointed ears that weren’t normal as the elves, a sharp notch ran from the tip of the ear to the earlobe. And the dark red-purple mask on his face.
Then it was like he saw through the eyes to the lonely elf and looked up against The Dark Prince. His eyes almost glowed and sent a black sending against him and everything went black.
Optarh gasped once he opened his eyes while the sweat ran down at his face. His hair stuck to his forehead as he looked around. He moved his hand gently under his pillow and pulled out the amulet. He stared at it before he shoved it under the pillow again and moaned as he fell against the pillow and slept uneasy again.
Erla lifted up her head and looked at her beloved who slept uneasy. Gently she stroked the hair away that stuck on his face.
She pulled away her hand when Optarh moaned, afraid that she had awakened him and held her breath. She let out a sigh when he didn’t wake up. But she was frightened.
What do you need to get peace?
She sighed. She knew all too well what it was.
It’s still the past that’s trying to get you down. But what will make you to forget it? Only, just only for a while?
Xin-Jing and the other entire student at her age bowed their heads to greet their teacher. He was one the tribe’s elders and he was one of the best warriors who actually had fought with chief Optarh during the first war for hundred years ago.
His blind eyes were a mystery for the students. It was said that he had lost his sight during a battle. Others said that it became of an accident. What was it actually that had caused his blindness? The young students didn’t know, but for Nuka it was only a distant memory.
“All right, my students,” he said turned his head toward the students.
“Today our training shall focus on combining two essential disciplines.”
He turned his head when he heard footsteps. He recognized the steps to Optarh, so there wasn’t danger. He turned to his pupils again and continued the practice.
“The way of balance. And the way of invisibility.”
None of the elves had time to blink before Nuka suddenly jumped as he held around his Cane and slapped a hand to one of the students called, Jarina.
“OW!” she shouted as she waved her hand. Although Nuka was blind, it was easy for him to discover notice when one of the students went their thoughts other places and not in their lessons.
“Jarina. The way of invisibility also includes the way of silence!”
Then their practice began. Optarh looked thoughtfully at the young students who used all their techniques they had learned over the years. And listened to what Nuka said to the students.
“Mind your footwork!”
They’re preparing for war. They’re young and already preparing for war again. Just as we always have and perhaps we always will do!
“Now you were too clumsy!”
Optarh let out a heavy sigh while he still thought. One of the things he didn’t want them to do, was to like and love war. He couldn’t permit that.
“Don’t be too noisy!”
This must end soon.
“That was a poor choice!”
But the wise warrior doesn’t seek out an enemy he doesn’t fully understand!
“Do you actually wish to avoid my Cane? Now, try to attack me!”
The next move has to come from the enemy!
Loud groans from the students got their chiefs from his thoughts and he looked at them on the grown. If it should become like what he saw now, these students were certainly not ready for war after all.
“Oh, Puckernuts,” he heard one of the students mumble.
“Again!” Nuka shouted to them.
“The Dark Ones wouldn’t care that you lay on the ground.”
This time the students did the best they could. Punches and kicks belonged to the training and even a fall sometimes.
If they’re too become true warriors, they must work harder!
Optarh turned his gaze on the wall that had almost been destroyed and looked at a groaning Xin-Jing stand up. As soon she saw Nuka coming slowly toward her, she bent her head as if she would get a reprimand. Nuka stand in front of her before he started to say something.
“You began to hesitate during the practice. Why?”
“I’m sorry,” Xin-Jing said low and lowered her gaze down.
“It was just… a feeling.”
Nuka waited while almost leaned against his cane.
“Like someone shouted that I had to be careful,” Xin.Jing said and lowered her shoulders. It looked like she was ashamed.
“It was your maternal instinct,” Nuka said slowly.
“That was where it went wrong. You were trying to protect yourself and your unborn children under the fear.”
Xin-Jing didn’t lift up her gaze at her teacher.
“And that is not a warriors way,” she said quietly.
Nuka didn’t answer. He placed a hand on her shoulder.
“You have to work with it and fight against the fear you have. A warriors balance must be one with body and soul.”
“Yes, master,” Xin-Jing answered after a while.
Optarh looked at Toron, Sturkas and the rest of the seventeen elves in their group. They had been out on their guard duties in the forest. He could see that they had been in a little fight.
“We found a small group of The Dark Ones that lurked around,” Sturkas said eagerly and had a special glow in his eyes.
“They were many, but we took care of them!”
Toron coughed and looked towards Sturkas.
“What Sturkas is actually trying to say, is that we fought well,” Toron said.
“We fought well,” Sturkas mimicked low as he made faces. Toron sent him one gaze and Sturkas was quiet.
“They didn’t follow you?” Optarh asked after a while.
Toron shook his head.
“”No, my chief. We made sure that they didn’t follow us!
“Very well,” Optarh said after a while.
“You can go and rest now!”
Toron and the other elves bowed their heads and went away from him.
“You know we should do something soon?” said Arthels voice behind Optarh. He turned slowly and met Arthels green eyes.
“If we continue like this, then The Dark Prince is going to do something unexpected.”
“That’s why we’re waiting,” Optarh said slowly.
“We must wait for the next move!”
“The next move. The next move,” Arthel mimicked before he shouted.
“That’s all we do. Wait for the next move!”
“Arthel,” Optarh said slowly. He tried to find the right words so it wouldn’t be an argument. But the calme words wouldn’t seem to help now.
“Why don’t we go out and try to find out where The Dark Prince actually is, and then get the war over? Or use magic?”
“No!” Optarh Shouted and bowed his brows.
“I won’t allow it. Don’t even think that we’re going to use Hawkeyes magic. He can’t control his magic yet.”
“But, Optarh. The Dark Prince actually wants his magical powers. We should use it back toward him!”
“The first time I asked him to help us against The Dark Ones, he only pushed himself too hard. It’s wrong to ask about it again. He isn’t ready.”
“Here it goes again,” Tathar said while he crossed his arms over his chest and looked at the argument in a long distance.
“This waiting makes Arthel going crazy.”
“Arthel just want to go straight on, without too think,” Sharika said slowly.
Topaz just listened to the argument. She didn’t dare to say something to all this. She felt so small, uninformed and afraid. She was afraid to say something wrong, that they all would look at her as an unworthy chief after her father. She felt that she had so much responsibility among the other chiefs. And the only one who seemed to understand her problems best, was Sharika.
“I know how you feel it,” Sharika said to Topaz and stood by her side.
“There were also many challenges for me when I became chief over my own tribe.”
“I noticed it when father died,” Topaz said slowly.
“But it’s not about that. It’s about this The Dark Prince. I don’t know who he is and the story behind it all!”
Sharika raised her brows before she went away and waved Topaz after her.
“Follow me, sister!”
Topaz looked confused at her, but she rose up from the bench and followed Sharika.
The two leaders walked through the village and past all the elves that made their daily duties. Topaz didn’t knew where they went since the village was so big. It was bigger than her own village.
“As a chief, you need to know about the history of everything,” Sharika said slowly as they walked towards one of the largest buildings in the village. One elf guarded the door and immediately opened the door to let them in without a question.
“But now you need to know the most important. The story, and the reason for this war. Who The Dark Prince is. And a part of Optarhs past.”
Topaz didn’t know what to say once she saw the walls. There were images created by stones. Forms and shapes of elves. It was the beginning of the elves history.
The first picture showed elves who tried to conform themselves, looking for a safe place to live. And with the time, they all lived in peace and it became more elves by recognition.
The next sections showed a bloody war. Elves that fought against The Dark Ones. The ninjas looked like humans. But the figure that made her blood freeze to ice while her golden-brown eyes widened. It was a figure of The Dark Prince who fought against Optarh.
“The Dark Prince hasn’t always been like as he is now,” Sharika said and looked down to Topaz confused face.
“He was actually an elf, called Anhor before he changed. No one knows how it happened, but we have guessed that it might be ancient magic from The High Ones who made it.”
Topaz didn’t know what to say while she got many questions in her head. The Dark Prince was an elf before? Why did he change from elf to something unknown? Wasn’t there no one who could do something about it?
“None of us know,” Sharika said as if she had been asked these questions. So after a while, she went moved slowly away to another place and Topaz followed her. Sharika didn’t say anything as they went in the hallway. But finally;
“It wasn’t just Optarhs daughter’s disappearance that gave Optarh lasting wounds. There were also another elf that was… close to him who betrayed him and went over to The Dark Prince after the war!”
Topaz didn’t realize it once. What was it Sharika meant? The high elf went to the side so Topaz could go closer to the wall and see for herself. The entire wall showed a picture, the shape of two elves that touched each other’s hands. They looked like spirits. Her eyes widened and she backed away from the wall.
The sun was getting down, the sky had a warm orange color and almost pink clouds that went past the sun. The fresh cool air caressed Hawkeyes and Xin-Jings faces as she lay down by his side. None of them said a word to each other. There was only silence. Although there was some wonderful and just enjoying the silence, it bothered them a bit too.
“Have you ever felt it like that, once you get to know something, it feels like you’re split in two?” Hawkeye suddenly asked as he looked up at the sky. Xin-Jing lifted her head.
“What do you exactly mean?”
“What I mean is,” Hawkeye said and searched for the right words in awhile.
“Have you ever wished that you could just live a normal life?”
“Is something bothering you?” Xin-Jing asked after a few seconds. Hawkeye sighed heavily.
“Sometimes I wish that I wasn’t a magic user at all,” he said slowly.
“And that I just could live a normal life as before.”
She could see that there was something more. She waited patiently for him to continue.
“Almost through my whole life, I thought that I was an normal elf. But one day, I discover that I have magical abilities. And then I get to know that my mother and father, almost everyone knew about it. And they never told it too me,” Hawkeye said and gathered his knees under his chin as he sat up.
Xin-Jing didn’t know what to say.
“Why didn’t they tell it?” he asked suddenly.
“Maybe I could have been prepared for everything.”
“I don’t think that would have helped much,” Xin-Jing said.
“If they did, just suddenly, it would have scared you and everyone would try to make sure that you were safe all the time. Just the thought that someone wants you because of the magic would surely have destroyed you.”
Hawkeye said nothing as he lowered his gaze.
“You’re probably right,” he said slowly.
But I would like to know how much mother and father knew. How long have they known that I had magical powers? he thought as he lay on the ground again. Xin-Jing did the same thing and held her arms around him as they both closed their eyes.
“Maybe you’ll get an answer for it one day?” she whispered to him.
“Maybe,” he replied sleepily. Soon Xin-Jing could hear him snoring low. She could also have fallen asleep if she hadn’t heard the whistle from some other elves. She looked down at Hawkeye and out towards the forest. She searched for her Katanas who lay nearby.
The moons shone down from the trees while the stars blinked. The white cold was on the way to melt and the new green would awake from the long sleep.
But this night was not quite as other nights. You could barely hear the sound of footsteps through the woods and the low moans from a woman.
Lavender’s black curly hair stuck at her sweat forehead. Her brown eyes were almost closed all the time, but she could open a few times through the pain. She felt so heavy because of her big belly while her lifemate, Lohtar carried her in his arms, and their oldest son on his back.
The red hair to the two year old boy was combined to one with Lohtars fiery red hair. And to his wonders the little boy didn’t awaken from Lavender’s groaning.
“Lohtar,” Lavender whispered and groaned again. Lohtar hushed at her as he tried to calm her down.
“We’ll be there soon. Hold on beloved.”
And soon they arrived at a forest clearing. The light from the moons seemed so stronger now. Carefully Lohtar lay Lavender on the ground.
The pain was stronger and she moaned as she held one hand over her stomach. With the other hand she held her lifemate’s hand. She noticed that Lohtar almost started to be scared.
“Our little one is special,” she whispered to him.
“Only The High Ones know how these magical powers survived. That what’s makes him special.”
Lohtar thought that it was strange. The history from the elders said that because of one fight between elves under a war, it exploded and died. A part of The High Ones powers had died. But strangely, they had all been wrong, it had in the time just been asleep and now it would survival in a little newborn body.
“It’s all strange,” Lohtar said. Suddenly he smiles.
Then he took out a blanket while he helped during the birth. He didn’t care what the others in their tribe would say, and he knew that Lavender didn’t want to bother it. She only did what she felt was right. The child came from nature and would always be part of nature.
So they were both silent, except the breath from Lavender and the sleeping little boy who lay beside his mother. Their patience would soon be an end. Lohtars eyes widened and held the blanket ready.
The weak sun rays made it through the leaves in the treetops figures, illuminating the forest’s shady background. The warm sun colored the deep blue, cold sky to a warm orange sky. Birds in the Distant, just awakened from their long sleep, began singing praises Their two a new day and a new chance to life.
The new green had come; just like that a tiny little boy was born once the sun showed. The cries from the newborn boy could be heard all over the woods and was a long-lasting echo.
The newborn boy with the black hair was placed on his mother’s breast. Lavender stroked her hand over the little head and looked down at the bright blue eyes. Just like his father’s eyes. She began to whisper to the screaming little boy.
“Little one, you’re born in the first day of the new green as your powers have returned from a long sleep.”
The little boy continued to scream.
“Don’t be afraid, little Hawkeye. Little beautiful magic user. We’ll protect you, no matter what.”
Hawkeye opened his eyes and sat up in a sitting position. He grabbed his head as he thought.
Mother birthed me in the woods? Why?
“Nature has always been a part of you.”
The memories from when Optarh told him about his powers went back.
“They wanted you to have a happy childhood without worries and thought that knowing this would only be a burden for you.”
It was true. His mother had whispered to him that they would protect him when he was born. She and his father had only done what they thought was the best. He began to understand. They did what they thought was the right thing and then they would have told the truth when his powers where shown.
They just tried to protect me.
“You just need to accept your part of nature.”
And that’s what I’m doing. I’m a treeshaper, but not a normal treeshaper.
He went his eyes down at his side, but discovered that Xin-Jing wasn’t there.
“Xin-Jing?” he asked into the air. He didn’t get any reply. It was then he saw that it was getting darker. How long had he slept?
He turned his gaze toward the woods when he heard noises. The sound from a fight.
Oh, High Ones, he thought as he walked carefully and hide himself behind one of the biggest trees. His eyes widened. Xin-Jing and the other elves were in a battle against The Dark Ones. Like last time, it was few ninjas.
She saw him from a distance and kicked a ninja to the ground as she jumped toward him.
“Get away from here. You’re not safe here,” Xin-Jing cried.
“I’m not leaving you alone,” Hawkeye cried back.
“I have the others here. Run, before I have to chase you back to the village!”
Hawkeye didn’t like it, but he turned and began to run. He was tempted to look back as he ran, afraid if something would go wrong for Xin-Jing. He didn’t hear the movements in the branches over him, but Hawkeye stopped once a shadowy figure had jumped in front of him just some few meters away from him. Hawkeye didn’t know what to do when he saw the ninja, he was frightened, he couldn’t think clear. But the ninja didn’t do anything. It loooket like that the ninja just gazed at him.
Hawkeye tried to take some steps backward, carefully while he looked at the ninja. He caught another shadowy movement in the corner of his eye and turned his head, but too late. The last thing he remembered were the blows from a Bo Staff and that he landed on the ground. He groaned as he looked up at the two ninjas before everything went black and the feeling of falling into darkness.
Xin-Jing felt the blows at the same time and turned her head. She saw that Hawkeye had fallen to the ground and was lifted up by a ninja. It was like her heart had stopped as she stiffened.
“No!” she screamed as she suddenly started to run towards the ninjas. Suddenly she was surrounded by The Dark Ones and she fought alone against them. During the battle she stiffened, she began to hesitate and started to tremble. It was like she wasn’t in the world anymore. Only The High Ones could know if she actually heard the voices of children, shouting at her;
“Mother, be careful!”
The blow at her face was quick and unexpected. Stars blinked at her eyes before she felt the kick at her back and she fell to the ground. She didn’t know what to do; she felt so frightened and sent a scream before everything went black for her.
Optarh, Arthel, all the chiefs received the scream, totally unexpected. So did Alborn, Toron and Sturkas and grabbed their heads during the scream.
“Xin-Jing?” Alborn whispered and ran out of the village immediately while he cried out her name, over and over again.
The sight he saw in the forest made him to stiffen when once he saw the unconscious warriors who lay groaning on the ground. But it was Xin-Jing who got his attention; he ran toward her and lifted her in his arms. She had some wounds and blood flow from her nose.
“Xin-Jing? Xin-Jing?” he said and tried to shake her a little before she barely opened her eyes. They were filled with tears.
“They… took him,” she whispered.
“The Dark Ones took Hawkeye.”
Alborn stiffened as he held his daughter in his arms.
“I failed, father,” she whispered again.
“I tried to stop them, but I failed.”
Oh, High Ones, Alborn thought.
The nine chiefs are not going to like this.
He held his daughter closer to himself and Xin-Jing started to cry into his chest. Alborn didn’t like that they had to tell what had happened. But they had to; even that it was one of the worse things to do. In this case, it wasn’t good at all.
uh oh.... iz not good! not good at all!!
*pokes Cleopatra's muse a lot* go write more!!!
I'll join the poking if you poke my muse a bit more... Still need to get working on my story of this month, after that I'll start thinking about next month!
Yay! I finally got a chance to sit down and write! And my muse cooperated too, so here's:
Ember had found her first wolf-friend! Enjoying the sight of the young cub, and thinking back to her own first wolf-friend, Moonshade heard Leetah talk about missing Cutter so much.
"It's your own fault! Your place is by your lifemate's side! You should have joined him on his quest!"
Leetah does not seem to listen, and turns away. Instead, Nightfall captures Moonshades attention.
"That's not fair! If YOU had cubs as young as Suntop and Ember, would you abandon them to follow Strongbow on a dangerous journey?"
"I would - if Strongbow were chief! You know as well as I that a chief's cubs belong to all his tribe!
There isn't one of us who wouldn't gladly have helped to parent the twins -- if Leetah had gone with Cutter as she should have!"
Still angry, Moonshade turned to her lifemate as Nightfall went after Leetah.
"She should have gone with Cutter! It's The Way! Oooh, puckernuts! This folk does things so different from our ways... How long can we stay Wolfriders here?"
Silent as ever, Strongbow put an arm around his lifemate. **Have faith in Cutter, my Eyrn. He will fix things.**
Back at the cavern where they lived, Moonshade fell down on their sleep furs. "It's just... They will never understand the Way! Even after all these turns of the seasons, they just can't understand... Almost like humans!"
Hugging her son, Moonshade shook her head. "I hope he won't turn into one of them... Always stay with us, stay with the Way, my sweet cub!"
Did I accidentally unsubscribe from this thread? Because I didn't get the alert...
Anyway, sweet snippet Fae. I like how Moonshade wants Dart to stay forever, and how you nailed Strongbow
Cleopatra Love the story!! please write more!!
faeriegirl Wow! you wrote moonshade very wel ^^ love it!
^.^ Glad you liked it!
Good story, faeriegirl. It was good to see what Moonshade thought before they went to find Cutter.
WolMoonSky, I could probably have write more, but... I'm stil tied in the chair by Xin-Jing here.
Xin-Jing: *pokes Cleo*
Xin-Jing: *continue to poke*
Cleopatra: Xin-Jing! Stop! Please!
Xin-Jing: Not before I get Hawkeye back.
Cleopatra: And you will get him back. But I need more elements for the next month.
Xin-Jing: Can't wait that long. *pokes again*
Cleopatra: OW! Can somebody help me here?
*scolds Xin-Jing* She can't write if she's tied up, silly!!
Cleopatra: Thanks faeriegirl.
Xin-Jing: *gets some rope ready to tie faeriegirl*
Cleopatra:*turns and see* No, nonononono! *grabs Xin-Jing and lock her in a closet* Now I can get some peace. *hears Xin-Jing bangs on door* Don't mind it, faeriegirl.
Maybe... just maybe... I could get another story out soon but I'll have to reread an issue carefully, to make it work
Take the time you need. But isn't more stories from the others here soon?
*considering to poke the others muses*
Well got caught up here.
Great story Tymber. Love the short on Madcoil as well. It is interesting revisiting an old known story.
Great Poem Ember! Love the interaction between Pke and Krim. Of course Skot helped out as well.
Cleopatra good story.
Love the pic Startear.
Fae love the take on Strongbow and Moonshade. All that worry about the way and Dart did his own thing.
*pokes Tymber* Go read the other submissions, you!
Glad you like it, G0lden ^.^
Then I'm not going to poke your muse, TrollHammer. Take the time you need.
Golden, thank you.
Redhead Ember, a very sweet poem of Pike, Krim and Skot. It was perfect.
Startear, the colorings of the picture is awsome.
Yay, more story!
Unbeknownst to Cutter and Skywise, Leetah, the cubs and the Wolfriders have taken off to find them. Unbeknownst to them, Cutter and Skywise have gone to a human village with Nonna and Adar, where they were honored with a feast, with lots of meat, fish, fruit and nuts, in other words everything the village could offer. The high place the elves were standing on was decorated with strings of spring flowers.
Envious, a grey-haired man watches it all from the bushes. He has no name, for chief Olbar has taken it from him as punishment for a terrible crime. Though he barely remembers what he did, he would do anything to get his name back... And Bone Woman knows it.
"You see, Thief? Olbar is seduced by the dark magic of the beast eared ones! He will bring evil on us all in his weakness! But if I were to deal with these demons - ah! how I would make them bow to me! That charm the white-haired one wears about his neck -- it is the source of all their power! I'm sure of it! With that magic stone -- I could work wonders!
Get it for me Thief! Steal me the demons' talismand and I will reward you! I will give you back the things you want most - your place in the tribe... you warrior's spear... and your name!!"
Now that got his attention!
"My naaaame... I'd kill to regain it!" And so the pact was sealed. She smeared a special potion on his skin so the wolf-guards would not scent him and warn the demons. Thief slowly crept through the bushes, his eyes fixed on the magic stone.
He heard Olbar try to stop the demons from going away, but their wolf-guards quickly halted him.
At the moment the white-haired demon passed him, Thief quickly reached out to grab the stone....
and got his thumb cut off! The demon was quick, much quicker then Thief had thought...
Thief never knew where his thumb fell, as he ran off into the wood clutching his wounded hand, barely noticing the screaming and yelling behind him, but feeling the snapping of the wolf-guards teeth at his heels all the more!
More yay for productive muse on a day off! *does happy dance*
Now, this snippet is the follow-up of Shadow Pact as well as a story on it's own. Enjoy! ^.^
Arriving at a secret meeting place deep in the forest, Bone Woman tends to Thief's wound. Now, she promises to make him chief instead of Olbar if he succeeds to steal the talisman. Thief isn't stupid, he knows the Bone Woman can't be trusted. So he threatens her to make her swear on the promise. Once more, she smears the potion on his skin. "Now go! You will find the demons near the river!"
Oh yes, he will find them near the river... and he will kill them if he gets the chance! And when he has destroyed them... if that talisman is really that powerful... maybe he'll keep that magic stone for himself!
Arriving at the death water, Thief noticed the wolf-guards leaving. Good! They would not be around to protect their masters now, the kill would be easy! Though he had to be quick, for the demons looked like they were making ready to descend the cliffs. Now, the frost-haired one would pay for maiming his hand!
A deadly stone for the demon - and a magic stone for him! The sling whirls around and around, then releases it's missile - which strikes unerringly home! The demon falls! The other demon turns around, knife drawn - but another stone is already on it's way. Puckernuts, he manages to shield his head with his arm! Well, Thief still has his big wooden club to finish the job, and he lunges forward. The demon evades his club, and swings his knife in return. Thief feels superior, for the Bone Woman's medicine has given him speed to match the demon's!
"Soon I will have all your powers and you will lie as still as your companion!" Thief laughs.
The demon answers him with rage. 'You like to kill, do you, human? So do I - when I must! You are meat to be wasted! Your blood will fall on bare rock, and nourish nothing!"
Now, Thief bellows with laughter. "You would stick me with your single spine, little quill-pig? I could wear you in place of my lost thumb!
Are these the mighty spirits I was taught in my youth to fear? Bah! The legends lie! You can die! You have blood, and it flows as red as any beast's!"
Thief can not be afraid of the demon. He towers over the child-like figure, and raises his club high for the final strike. He feels his life returning to him. "Before this day is done, I shall be the greatest chieftain of all!! And I will have a new name, they will call me - Spirit Slayer!"
Bringing his club down, Thief suddenly stops mid-motion. The demon's knife is buried deep in his chest, almost all to the hilt. Thief feels his life fleeing away, blood starts to drip out of his mouth as well as his chest. "You...! you've killed me!"
He never heard the demon's answer, as Thief staggered back - toward the edge of the cliff. He falls! Instinctively, Thief flings his arms out, trying to find a hold. Thank Gotara, he finds it! And, within reach, there is the magic stone! With his dying breath, Thief grabs the talisman. The white-haired demon won't let go! Thief feels his last strength leaving him, and loses his hold on the cliff.
The feel of the magic stone in his hand comforts him in those last moments, now he will surely be reborn as a great warrior! Thief never felt his lifeless body releasing the stone, nor the touch of the rocks at the bottom of the death water.
Startear's muse: COME ON! *jumps up and down on Startear* Winterleaf! Skyfire! Strongbow! Winnowill! Redbark!
Startear: No! We have an essay to write!
Startear's muse: WINTERLEAF NEEDS YOU!
Startear: A Matter of Souls needs YOU!
Startear's muse: YOU WILL WRITE ABOUT EITHER ONE OF THE CHARACTERS i HAVE LISTED OR I WILL BE FORCED TO MAKE YOU READ BAD LURRY!
*Startear falls unconcious*
Good luck with that essay, Startear... you'll need it with a muse like that
WOW. Good stories, faeriegirl.
^.^ Glad you like them!
alas- poor theif!
Indeed... but he did bring it on himself!
Stupid, stupid, stupid internet!
It made me believe that i had reviewed your story Tymber, when I didn't just yet. Even though there are huge gaps, because I'm still not entirely up to date with the Stoneholw Holt, I really liked your story. I really like the lack of violence, though it's a challenge. A very neat story
*wipes brow* At long last... finished!
The door to the Altar room shut behind Ekuar, its sound ringing through the passage like the church bells in town. Sound waves rolled off the walls and hit solid objects, collided with the corners on each side. The old priest moved down the passage on muffled steps as thoughts consumed him. How many years had passed now? By watching the cloister's occupants, it had been several. By his feeling, it could have been just a few days. There had been no change in the cloister's dynamics the past years, except for a few mishaps that had lead to even more private lessons. His last student had started out with confusion, doubt, fear... and an interest so great that it would be fatal was it not fed with nurturing knowledge.
Close your eyes, my child, and open your heart.
He rounded a corner, the confused and hurt eyes haunting him.
Believe in yourself. That is how it starts.
Locked up feelings, blame, confusion. The child rarely acknowledged him after he had found the secret scroll. He most likely felt betrayed, Ekuar understood very well. But he also felt a strange wave of worry overtake him. He and Mrs. Winnowill, along with maiden Aroree, were the main raisers of little Redmark, though he and Aroree had generally done the most. The two adults, although different in as many ways as night and day, were strangely enough the closest of the cloister's occupants.
This they would never admit.
He and maiden Aroree had taught Redmark to walk and talk, though the last had been deeply influenced by the abbess. And young Skywise had, in a most unwanted way, taught him how to swing through the branches in the cloister garden. They wold teach him more as he got older. But he was still closest with the abbess, although he had not nearly spent as much time with her as with the others. What he found interesting in her was a question he doubted he would ever get the answer to. But while he was not nearly as close as they were, he still felt sorry for the child. Worried for him.
Oh, Redmark. The old priest sighed deeply. Why do you keep it inside? You are a child.
Redmark was running, trying to outrun his fears.
You can be afraid.
As Skywise would say; do it the children's way; the hard way.
Then he heard footsteps approach and lifted his head, wondering who was walking around in this part of the cloister at this time. The nuns? The novices? The children? He blinked. No. It wasn’t any of them. It was Mrs. Winnowill, the abbess. The woman stopped before him and stared, as though considering him. Ekuar waited for her speak. The two of them, calm and collected, made this perfect tension into a war of looks. They waited for the other to show any sign of weakness. Winnowill's mouth twitched; apparently, she could see this sign as she ever could, always looking for a way to cut anyone else down a notch or two. But instead of uttering a single word, she nodded. Acknowledged his presence. And he returned the nod.
Then they moved to go on, but when there was a distance of about three feet between them, they stopped. Loud yelling and screaming echoed in the passages, the high-pitched voices of children. Inappropriate words, curses, swearing. The abbess and the priest locked eyes, both seeing flashes of confusion and terror go through the two of them. A silence stretched between them. Then, as one, they bolted towards the garden.
The shrill voice rang through the garden, hitting the frozen statues of a group of children. Aroree stood in the middle of them, a frightened look on her face, while she desperately tried to pull two boys from each other. But no matter her attempts, she couldn't get close enough. Soft long hair hung past her shoulders, a yellow-white cream color that made nearly no contrast with her pale skin. It bounced slightly as she stepped back and forth, trying to grab the boys. Her blue eyes, large and rounded in terror, were accentuated by the long blue dress she wore, though it was darker in color.
“Stop! Please stop!”
One of the boys she yelled at had short brown hair that hung just past his round ears, and eyes glinting with anger. He raised his fist and let it connect with the other boy's face, watching in satisfaction as he cried out in pain. But the feeling was short-lived as he felt a hand grab his shirt and pull him up, only to drop him again so that his head connected with the ground. The other boy growled at him, his eyes burning and radiating with gleams of hatred. His hair had been a light color. Now the snow-white color peeked through grime in a few places.
“Please stop it!” Aroree cried.
The white-haired boy raised his fist and struck the other's face repeatedly while yelling something no one understood. The boy on the ground screamed and grabbed his cheek, feeling warmth spread as it started to swell. He roared and pushed the other boy off of him, then jumped to sit on his chest and reached for his throat. The one on the ground brought his legs up and kicked the other in his stomach, sending him flying before he flew after him and they continued rolling across the ground.
Across from them, three other boys stood next to two girls. The youngest girl was sitting on her sister's arm, thumb in mouth. The fair-skinned boy kicked out with his foot and watched as it connected with the other's face. A crunch and a grunt told him his nose would be bent the other way for a while. Blood began to seep from it and he started clawing at him with his hands. He was causing some damage, as he felt the other's hand turn warm and wet where his nails dug long gashes. They yelled and returned to hitting each other as hard as they could, kicked and bit and even started to pull on each others' hair.
“Stop it!” Aroree cried.
“You can get hurt! Stop it, I say!”
But the boys wouldn't listen and she could do nothing but watch as their attacks became more savagely. The dark-haired one pulled at white hair and the other boy kicked out while trying to get his hands around the other's throat. Aroree held up her hands, mouth opened in a silent scream, when a black and brown blur bolted past her. She glanced up, eyes rounded in terror as she saw Mrs. Winnowill and sira Ekuar break through the group and grab one boy each, pulling them away from each other.
“What are you doing?” Winnowill shrieked as she harshly grabbed the dark-haired boy's wrist.
Ekuar picked up the white-haired boy that under all the dirt and grime could be known as a seven summers old Skywise. He gave off the air of a trapped animal, ready to lash out at the slightest of contact. And what's more, the priest noticed, he seemed to be fully aware of what he had just done. There was no sign of regret in his eyes, and where they used to be laughing, they were now mat and dull. Streaks of sweat ran down his dirty face. The catchy smile was replaced with a pout and blood seeped from his pursed lips.
Hate was in Skywise’s blood, Ekuar understood, anger under his skin and the need to protect carved on his bones.
He turned to glance at the other boy, the human, a barrack boy. His nose was bent leftward and swollen, almost twice as big as usual, and red. He winced. If he had touched it, it would not have surprised him if it was warm too. Blood ran from it and one of his eyes were black; it would be swollen shut by the end of the day. There were abrasions on his cheeks and black spots around his mouth, along with deep gashes on his hands. Add to the mix all the cuts and bruises on the rest of his and Skywise's body, he would not have guessed they had been fighting with another child.
“Why are you practicing violence in the home of the High Ones?” Winnowill spat.
Neither of the boys answered. It could have been pretty funny, actually. The abbess and the priest stood there with one child each in their arms, while the children seemed to be doing all they could to get to the other one. The human was held back and his face turned a darker shade as he glared at Skywise. The latter was grabbed by his tunic, probably to prevent him from rushing forward and strangle the other boy, and instead gave his look right back. His pupils decreased, refusing to take his eyes off the other boy. Wide, gray as steel-ice, perceptive. Hard as swords and just as cold, not at all reflecting the season of new-green.
If looks could kill, they would both be long dead.
Winnowill yanked hard on the boy's arm.
Skywise still did not take his eyes off the boy, but he did lift his arm and pointed an accusing finger at him.
“He called Redmark a thrall!”
There was a collective exhale through the garden and the words hit Winnowill with such force she nearly stumbled backwards. No, this wasn't true. Not her sweet little Redmark. She couldn't, would not believe it. Would not have it, that her little one had been overtaken by such an awful word. Time stopped, her senses were numb, and nothing mattered anymore.
“He is!” the other boy retorted.
Skywise stepped forward, only to be dragged back by Ekuar.
“No, he's not!” he yelled, shaking his fist.
“Yes, he is!”
“He is!” the human spat.
“He's just a stupid thrall!”
Skywise forced Ekuar with him as he took a step forward, fist raised.
“And you're a son of a harlot!”
“That is enough!” Winnowill bellowed, having found the ability to speak again.
“This is a sacred place and I do not want any form of disagreements. You should be ashamed of yourselves!”
The boys glared at each other. She placed her hand at her hip, getting their attention.
“Do you know what I think of this?”
Before any of them could even think about answering, the little girl on her sister's arm released her thumb and opened her mouth.
“Stupid!” she said, hugging her doll close.
If she was referring to the fight or if she meant the boy, they did not know.. The latter shot her a glare, but quickly turned back to the abbess when she talked to him. She turned to the boy by her side, her eyes gleaming with anger.
“Why did you use such words about someone you do not know?”
The boy sent her a scornful look.
“Ma said so.”
“Oh, so your mother told you so,” Winnowill said, her voice literally dripping with sarcasm.
“Do tell, if your mother said it was unhealthy to breathe, would you stop breathing then?”
The boy glowered at her, then dismissed her words with a wave of his hand.
“He's a thrall and that's the truth.”
“Do you want my truth?” Winnowill sneered and leaned in closer.
“I allowed you to stay, but I can throw you out with a blink of my eye.”
The boy blinked and took a sudden step backwards, only to be pulled forward by the abbess again as she took a step closer, getting even closer.
“Your are living on my mercy,” she said slowly, voice low and serious.
“Do not push my generosity.”
The boy swallowed, tried to pull away, stiffened. Winnowill held him still.
“This is the home of the High Ones, a place of giving.” She tightened her grip, forced him to hold her look.
“And I am giving mercy, so be grateful! It will not happen again!”
Then she righted herself and let go off the boy, nearly throwing him away from her, and turned to the other barrack children. She pointed to the barracks.
“Go,” she said.
“Take your friend with you and leave. I do not wish to see any of you out here the next days.”
The group was gone before she could blink twice and she turned to the remaining elves. Three pairs of eyes stared at her. Silence stretched between them and her eyes slowly widened. Three pairs of eyes... three elves; sira Ekuar, Aroree and Skywise. Three...
She glanced around the garden.
“Where is Redmark?” she asked, fear gripping her heart with its deadly cold fingers.
Aroree and Skywise shared looks, shrugged.
“I do not know,” the novice said, her eyes trailing the ground.
“He ran away.”
Winnowill jerked. Ran away... oh, High Ones. Her little Redmark, who was so young, so innocent... so vulnerable. Stifling a groan, the abbess forced her eyes closed and dragged a hand over her face, before turning to the priest.
“Take Skywise to the herbal room. Make him some paste for his wounds while I go look for Redmark.”
Ekuar nodded and watched her leave before he guided Skywise and Aroree to the herbal room.
Usually the play area in the garden was loud. Really loud, at least at midday. With usually four young children playing together in it, it was no wonder. One would know one was coming close to it when standing in the lower bailey. It was an everyday occurrence to hear loud yelling, laughter and shrieks, and the children would often rush from the garden to the stables, and back to the garden again. There was never a moment of peace when they were around, just playing all day long.
Today though, the garden was vacant of children. A few birds could be spotted on high-hanging branches and outside the green grass, horses were being led by their riders. But this place of sounds was now filled with the same silence that had settled in the library. The few people that were allowed so close to the garden that they could peek inside, glanced briefly at each other as they passed. There was no sound at all. Strange.
They continued on their way and did not see a little figure crawl out from behind a large tree, a fist on his chest and the other on the ground. Young prince Cutter was crouched as his eyes trailed the ground and he righted himself, using his free hand to pick up what seemed like small brown rocks. Content with what he had found, the boy stood up and wiped dust off his blue tunic. He scuttled across the garden and made a break for the large door on the other side, tearing it open and rushing inside. It slammed shut behind him.
The young prince took a route that led him past the kitchen, where one of the cooks stood by a large fire. She pulled out a tray, its stoney surface decorated with golden spots. Its delicious smell filled the kitchen and she looked up at the sound of approaching footsteps. Upon seeing the prince, she smiled.
“Beesweet cake?” she asked as she moved the tray away from the fire.
The light-haired boy rushed past them in a half-circle.
“No time!” he called over his shoulder.
The cooks shared glances and smiled before they returned to their tasks, and Cutter continued on his way through the castle. He ran up the stairs and between a couple that was on their way down, through the men's hall and the writing room, never decreasing his speed. He breathed in and out, rounded a corner and spotted his goal. A smile appeared in his face and he sped up, watching the purple blob becoming bigger and bigger as he came closer. It suddenly turned into a dress and he skidded to a halt in front of his cousin, breathing heavily.
“Hello, Crescent!” Cutter said, his voice light.
The girl looked up at him, eyes large and violet. She blinked.
“Hello, Cutter,” she said, her voice lowered and hollow, and she reverted her eyes to the opposite wall again.
The prince frowned. Strange. Crescent was always happy when she saw him. At least when he hadn't played a prank on her, which she usually gave him back for. But her eyes didn't hold that tiny glint of anger she got when she was mad, which meant that he was safe.
“I, uh,” Cutter reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of what he had collected in the garden.
“I brought you some nuts.”
He held them out for her to take and she accepted, but she did not eat them. Instead she laid her hands in her lap, rolling the nuts around with her fingers.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
Yup, he was not the problem. But what really bothered her was.
“Uhm,” Cutter scratched his head.
“What is wrong?”
Crescent glanced up at him again, blinked. Her long, black eyelashes quivered ever-so-slightly.
“Mother is still in there,” she said.
“Father and grandfather too, but I am not allowed.”
She blinked, eyes trailing the stone floor.
“I am worried. What if something goes wrong?”
Cutter blinked, scratching his head again. High Ones, consoling girls was not what he did best. Actually, he was not good at consoling anyone. Not at all. He was awful, totally unskilled. At least that's what his friends said, those who dared to speak their mind. And they were right. He wasn't used to people falling apart and crying, especially not Crescent. She was his one summer older tomboy cousin, rough and tough and always one to voice her opinion. She just didn't cry. Now she did, almost. It made him feel uncomfortable.
“Well,” he tried.
“Aunt Moonshade has been through it once before. She got you. And that turned out well.”
Great, she didn't even blink.
“And grandfather always says that if we want to succeed in something, we must try again and again because practice makes perfect.”
Where was he going with this?
“So... since this is the second time, it means that it must be a bit easier. Right?”
There was silence. Crescent lifted her head and looked up, and for a second, Cutter wondered if she was going to hit him. She sometimes did if he upset her.
“You really think so?” she asked instead, her voice gaining a lighter tone.
“Sure I do!” he said.
“I am sure they will come get us any moment now!”
And just as the last word left his lips, the door across the hall opened and the king stepped out, a small smile on his lips. He said nothing, just held the door open for them and his grandchildren rushed past him, two blue and purple blurs. He followed them through the next door and stopped behind their frozen figures. In a large bed close to the window, Moonshade lay propped up with pillows. In her arms was a pink bundle of wrinkles, which her soft gaze rested upon. She glanced up at her daughter and nephew and smiled brightly.
“Crescent,” she said, and her daughter was by her side less than a second after.
“Come meet your new brother.”
The girl stood by the bed, eyes on the pink thing in her arms. Soft brown baby hair covered the big head, much bigger than the rest of his body. His sharp ears were smaller than hers and the things on his hands looked more like sticks than fingers. She knew he had their father's brown eyes, the way he kept them shut told her so. It was the same way their father did when he was content with something. Crescent stared down at the infant, at the pink thing. At her brother.
“A boy?” she said, a skeptical edge to her words.
She stared up at her mother with a dejected look.
“You can do better than that!”
One-Eye stood next to the large bed, his hand on Clearbrook's shoulder. Little Nightfall found it difficult to believe that someone could have a smile that big without his face tearing apart. Yet here her uncle stood, his face not split in two, and he looked down lovingly at the tiny bundle in his wife's arms. Clearbrook smiled down at the infant, ran her hand through the soft baby hair. Pale silver locks framed the pink face, long black eyelashes quivered slightly. The young mother let her head fall slightly backwards, a smile on her face. A girl! They had a little daughter!
Then she frowned. What if One-Eye had wanted a boy? She glanced up, slightly scared of what she would find, only to see a grin so large it threatened to split his face in two. His eyes were full of fatherly affection.
“She is perfect,” he whispered.
“You did great.”
He wanted a daughter first. He had said so back when they were children. Lovingly affection filled her heart and Clearbrook looked down at her sleeping daughter again. It had been a difficult birth and she was exhausted. Their girl child shouldn't have been born yet, and thus she was a little small. Delicate, fair skinned and smooth. She had no problems with breathing, the midwives had said. And when the castle doctor arrived to check on mother and daughter, he had ascertained that she would soon grow to normal size. But they would have to keep her warm during winter, as she was a little frail. Now there were smiles on everyone's faces and all eyes were upon the child. Nightfall stared down at the little bundle, her golden brown eyes large and shiny. Clearbrook lifted her head and looked up at her, eyes weary, but filled with happiness.
“Would you like to hold her?” she asked.
Nightfall squealed and clapped her hands yes, climbed onto the bed and grinned as Clearbrook handed her the newbown. Her aunt smiled as she got the infant in her arms, watched her niece hold her as carefully as she could. Nightfall stared down at the bundle and her cousin blinked her eyes sleepily. Squealing with delight, she held the infant up to her shoulder and hugged her. Tiny fingers gripped at her rich, golden curls. From behind, she could hear her father whisper.
“She has your eyes, brother.”
Nightfall glanced down to see. True. Her visible right eye was as brown as her uncle and father's. The newborn girl let out a soft whine. Her older cousin sighed deeply and moved her to her right shoulder.
“No, she has not,” she heard her mother whisper.
“She has Clearbrook's eyes.”
Nightfall frowned and glared over her shoulder. Couldn't they decide on what eye color she had? And where did they get another color from? She glanced down. Her eyes had the same color as... Clearbrook? Her eyes widened as she looked into a deep blue orb, sleep evident. Nightfall held her out from her chest to look. Sure enough. Her right eye was brown like her father's, but her left was as blue as her mother's. Wow, two different eye colors! She beamed. Her cousin was so special!
“She has uncle and aunt's eyes!” she giggled.
A soft sound escaped the newborn girl's lips, sounding much like a giggle. The first real sound she made, the fragile little thing.
He was right where she thought he would be, in his secret garden spot. Hidden between the barracks and the cloister wall, one would have to go all the way around the buildings just to be able to catch a glimpse of it. Concealed behind a wall of leaves, his secret spot. His very own. The natural curtain was pulled aside by her porcelain hand...
… and there he was.
Redmark opened his eyes as he sensed someone's presence very, very close to him. He looked up into the wide, dark, perceptive eyes of the cloister's abbess. Mrs. Winnowill. He lowered his head, eyes trailing the soft blanket of grass. Winnowill sat down beside him without a word and cupped his shoulders with one arm. His hands became fists and his shoulders began to shake. He leaped into her embrace, flung his flimsy arms around her. Tears fell from his eyes, hidden by the hem of her dress, and fell to tear-filled earth. Holding the weeping child close, she crooned soft words into his small pointed ear.
“Easy there, little one. Everything will be alright. Shh...”
Winnowill gently picked up the small boy and placed him on her lap, wrapping her arms around him and rocking him like the child he was. As she rubbed his back reassuringly, she could only wonder what had really happened back there. And as she allowed Redmark to absorb her words, his lips parted and he began whispering, so softly his words were nearly stolen by the tiny breath of air that brushed past them.
The former youth and cheer that Redmark's voice once held could not be faked; it had dropped to a husky whisper – he was the phantasm of another person.
A shadow fell across them and they looked up to find a group of children looking down at them.
“What's so fun with just sitting around doing nothing?” the oldest boy said, his hands on his hips.
“Come play with us instead.”
Redmark shot Aroree an asking glance, watching her slowly shake her head. She recognized them as the barrack children, those who lived inside the cloister's walls. They were no good, better to stay away from them. Skywise, on the other hand, seemed to be considering the invitation.
“Why?” he asked.
“'cause we know where to play the special games,” the boy answered.
“Come, join us outside.”
Redmark froze and turned to his white-haired friend, trying to catch his eyes. They were not allowed to go outside the cloister's wall, it was strictly forbidden. Skywise could if he wanted to, as he did not belong to the cloister, but not Redmark or Aroree. This was one of the first things Skywise had been told, that if he wanted to play with the others they would have to stay inside the walls. He accepted this, finding more fun inside there than he had thought possible. Now though, being invited to come play new and special games... would he be able to resist?
Skywise stared at the group of children for a long moment, seemingly considering their offer. Then, with a shrug and a wave of his hand, he dismissed it.
“Nah,” he said.
“That's no fun. T'is better here.”
Aroree and Redmark exchanged glances and small smiles. Their friend didn't want to leave them behind. The boy that had asked them the question, raised his eyebrows and stared at the white-haired elf. They wouldn't play outside?
“Come on,” he said.
“It's no fun to work.”
That caught Skywise's attention, who jumped up immediately, crossing his arms while raising an eyebrow.
“Why are you so eager to play with us? We don't even know you.”
The boy shrugged.
“You seem like a fine guy.”
“And they?” Skywise gestured to his two friends.
The human dismissed his question with a wave of his hand.
“Does that matter? You wanna play or not?”
Skywise blinked, seemingly deep in thought. Then he shrugged.
“Sure,” he said.
The group turned to leave but before the elf could follow them, he was stopped by Redmark whose hand was clamped tightly around his wrist.
“But you cannot,” he said.
“We are not allowed to go outside.”
Remembering dawned on the white-haired elf as he locked eyes with his age-mate and he gave a brief nod. He wouldn't go. A smile spread quickly over Redmark's face and he released the breath he had been holding. Then the sudden silence was broken by a voice so cold the elves had to suppress a shudder.
“Who said you could come?”
All eyes turned to the human boy, his arms crossed in front of his chest. Instantly, Redmark's smile disappeared. Skywise spun around, shock and indignation evident in his rounded, gray eyes.
“HEY!” he yelled.
“What do you mean with that? If he can't come, I won't!”
The words left his mouth like shards of ice, piercing the air only to shatter on the ground in silence.
“We don't want to play with thralls.”
Redmark flinched, as though he had taken a physical blow. Aroree's eyes flew to the younger boy, whom she with the years had started to consider as her own brother. Little Redmark, with his feelings always written upon his face. His spirit, always flaring out like a physical force, quieted abruptly and his eyes dropped the happiness he worked so hard to maintain. Her other 'brother' froze, something clicked in his mind as the statement registered and his fingers twitched at his sides, as if trying to break free from his will and snatch the words out of the air.
But the damage was done.
“You take that back!” Skywise yelled, taking a step forward while shaking his fist.
“Or else what, nobleboy?” the boy said, his voice drained of feelings.
The last word was spat out like it tasted bad, as if it was venom in his mouth. Aroree swallowed hard, trying to say something. In all the years the three of them had been friends, they had seemed content with just knowing the others' name. Their background didn't matter and though they had heard rumors, they had never discussed it further. Aroree tried to get her mouth to stay closed, but it didn't seem to be working properly anymore.
Not with Redmark's eyes showing so clearly what he felt.
Her little friend, who always saw fit to help others and befriended strangers like rich women changed clothes, who never admitted to being afraid, suddenly seemed much more vulnerable. How that was even possible, Aroree did not know. Why wasn't he in the human's face, screaming denial? Why wasn't he standing up for himself like he always did? The young novice felt the beginning sparks of protective anger take root in her stomach as she recognized pain.
Skywise's hands became fists, twitched, opened and closed as he growled, blinking so rapidly that it seemed like he fought valiantly to comprehend what had just happened. In all the games they had played, even the ones that escalated to blows, such foul words were never broached. Now they had, and his friend was the victim. Gone was the carefree, fun-loving nobleboy. He may not be the brightest, but someone had hurt his friend and in doing so, had hurt him as well. He growled. No one, no one, dared to speak poorly of his friend! Skywise was angry, and now there was no holding back. The human boy just scoffed and turned around, signaling to his friends that they would play without the elves.
With his back turned, he did not see Skywise's face scrunch up in rage before he shot forward and tackled him.
“We don't play with thralls.”
It could have been one of the reasons for why Redmark was left at the cloister, the most believable. Being the child of thralls, he was doomed to a life where he would serve others and be treated like he was not worth a life. It would have killed him. And no parents wished such a destiny for their children. His parents would have understood this and left him at the stairs of the cloister to give him a better life than he could get if he stayed with them. It was very believable, could have been the reason.
But it was not.
She had seen that when Skywise told them what the barrack boy had called Redmark, Ekuar had shared her thoughts of how wrong the boy was. How wrong they were until that fateful day when they learned of his talents. There was no way he could be the child of thralls then, not with his gift. Only those of noble blood had such gifts. But there was another solution to this; that one of his parents had been a thrall and shared a night with the master or mistress. Such one-time-events often ended with children, sadly, and they often disappeared without a clue.
Yes, she mused. This could very well be the truth. That Redmark's mother gave birth to him in secret, that his father was indeed of noble blood. Or vice versa. And if she did not want her son to share her destiny, if his father would have none of his illegitimate child, the cloister was a natural choice. It could also explain the expensive blanket he was wrapped in, that in this moment was locked away in her own chambers. Yes, she thought. It was very believable that Redmark was indeed the child of a thrall.
But he should not be held responsible for his bloodline, should not have known of it at all. He was in the cloister now, and like everybody else, he was a child of the High Ones. No one could take that away from him. For he had survived. He was alive. And no one could accuse him of having no life.
It took several moments for Winnowill to compose herself. She had nodded her head several times during Redmark's tale, but there was now a tiny flash of anger dancing dangerously in the corners of her eyes.
Poor little thing, she thought. It is so hard for him to be without a soft home and a real family. Children are such social creatures, they should not be forced to stay here. Children should be laughing, play in green grass and fresh air.
She glanced down at the child in her lap.
I wonder how he can bear to be away from all this at all.
Redmark sobbed. He wondered why he should feel so tired. He had not run that far, from where they had been playing in the gardens. It was a fair distance, but not to account for the absolute exhaustion he felt right now.
“Why?” he choked.
“I never... not for a moment... never-”
His throat constricted around the sentence, cutting him off before he could complete it.
Winnowill silenced him with a finger to his lips, hushing him. She cupped his head, looked at his tear streaked face. Tiny red marks shaped like slits appeared under the veil of tears. Usually they were pink or light brown, not seen by anyone. Now they stood out in great contrast to his pale skin, accentuated by his flaming red hair. They were reminders of how difficult his short life had been so far, how she had not been of help. For he had been this sad before and it was her fault. Because she was not there to prevent it.
When she looked into his eyes, she saw the pain marring his features. Wishing she could do more to erase his grief, Winnowill embraced him gently. Words were not necessary to convey her small offering of comfort. Redmark lay curled up in her lap, his eyes swollen and raw from crying. He could have stayed like that forever. Nothing mattered anymore anyway, and he felt weary. Yet he knew that he had to move on, that he couldn't be stopped by just a statement.
But was it just a statement?
That day, tiny sparks of self-doubt began to take form. Sparks that with the years would be fed with lies, rumors and accidents, slowly grow to a hungry, hollow, burning fire. Blood would be shed, lives would be taken and secrets come forth. And in the end, the very fire that kept him alive would be endangered in a battle with the rushing water of life...
… and truth.
That was...... beautifull Tenderfoot!!
This was very good Tenderfoot! It makes me really ashamed that I haven't read your stories before now *blushes* Man I am going to do it now!
Amazingly written Tenderfoot!
But... how can One-Eye and Clearbrook's newborn be their daughter when Dart just got born? Where's Scouter... and Dewshine...
Also... you mentioned four children playing... Cutter, Crescent, Nightfall and who?
Very good indeed, Tenderfoot!! Love it!!
And Startear, prepare... I have secretly copied all these stories into Word for easy rereading, and it is 272 pages long at the moment... But it's a worthy read!!!
...and wonder about Redhead's questions a bit, too... But I'm sure you'll have your reasons!!
It's great. Poor little Redlance is so sweet and sensitive! Very much what you'd expect of traditional Redlance as a little boy. I love love love this version of Aroree! And I like that Winnowil is not the villianess here- you can feel that she could be, but she is just this side of good.
And it seems as if Skywise still has the loyal, best friend instinct- but he's attached to Redlance now, rather than Cutter. Tho he doesn't seem to be his clever self in this story. (Say- are Cutter and Skywise going to meet?) I hadn't gotten the impression he was noble earlier- due to the bad behavior! But maybe he was just young and upset.
Oh- Crescent. That made me laugh! I guess the baby is Dart?
I can't wait till next month's installment.
WOW ... your snippet about Madcoil's attack made me shiver indeed! You have drawn this scenes in words - the suspense when entering this "poisoned'" region ... the shock of the brutal attack ... the endless moment when Rain was killed - you described it very colorful, very vivid, very beautiful ... and made it much more frightening this way. Even if there weren't pictures already - the reader is a captured by the pictures you have woven.
Don't tell you havn't had fun writing this, Tymber - it's obvious!
I love "Life above, Life below". It's dark once more ... maybe a bit too dark - but it shows that the Wolfriders' live isn't so romantic all the time. It's a struggle ... a life you can only enjoy when you are able to accept The Way.
You had fun for sure with this grab-bag, Tymber!
This poem made me giggle, Redhead. Mumbling and grumbling Pike ... the argument about the dreamberry consum ... Skot's prank gone wrong - but all ending up with fun and love and enjoying life.
Light and joyful it is the total contrast to Tymber's poem - and a perfect complement. This was FUN, Redhead!
*hmmm ... wondering* There's something discussed which is no longer here - the biginning of your picture editing, Startear? I like the b/w swoped photo of the hostile siblings. The colorful one has it's appeal, too - although red isn't my color of choice. I don't get how this is related to this grab-bags elements - any help?
Arguement, threat, survival... but else, I'm a fail on this one
Muse in overtime indeed!!
And muse has found like 5 canon moments which might fit into the June element, so watch out! (but then again, I'm starting on my thesis this month, so would have to begin soon, lol.)
Glad you liked it! ^.^
I must apologize, I'm having a heck of a time trying to get what I was going to submit for this month done, and didn't have much time to write. I'll be back with my origional idea sometime when things calm down around here. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy another story from the Hail series. It's a little rough and I haven't got names for Hail's parents yet. Also, you probibly will want to read the "first" story (written second, btw) in the thread "TrollHammer's Story Forge"
“My King! I have news!” Even though all knew the risk of disturbing the King unannounced, the panting Troll burst into the throne room anyway. It was clear that either he’d be no big loss if the interruption resulted in his death, or the news was indeed important. “I would like to request a private audience. I believe you would want to know this and consider it without spreading rumors….” The Troll was held by the King’s guards.
He was none too pleased, but knew this particular Troll, and knew that Farscout was not given to flights of fancy. He could be quite shrewd at times, but not a threat and had never been known to lie about important any of the rare tidbits of information he’d brought before Guttlekraw. After a moment’s pause, he muttered. Two guards will remain, the rest can stand outside the entrance. Farscout, you will kneel at the foot of the dais and come no further if you value your life!”
The diminutive Farscout seemed to slink to the foot of the stairs. He knelt and waited for the King to allow him to speak.
Once the room was clear, the King demanded that Farscout explain himself. Guttlekraw would be sure to never show any sign of weakness. Farscout explained, “I bring news of a Troll that is working with the enemy, aiding them in constructing devices, and an encampment that is primed for attack!”
Guttlekraw settled back in his throne and pondered this for a moment. “Are they attacking us soon? Who is the traitor?”
“The tall one is the traitor, the one who fixes things, and it seems that there is only one Elf that knows of our passages.” He went on to describe what he’d witnessed, what was said. He summed up by saying “I don’t know what the Elf wanted the harness for, but as Elves have no need to climb anything I assume that he is taking it back to his kin to build more, so that he can bring others safely through our steep shafts! Perhaps they wish to kill our workers or steal our ore, to weaken us for a larger attack. I know only to watch an usually have little to see, but this is what I saw and how it seemed to me.”
The old king thought some more about this. Patchsmith a traitor? Had he pressed him too hard over the years? Of course not! There was nothing he’d done that would be so terrible that it would push a Troll to aid an Elf! It must be some kind of Elvin magic, some trick of the mind! Long ago there were those Elves that had magic to shape stone, and fly, and it was known back then that Elves could talk to each other without words! It would seem that perhaps they could indeed influence minds, so perhaps they had some way to warp the tinkerer’s mind to help them? The ones they fought now did not seem to possess that ability, nor any other talent beyond the butchery of his scouts from time to time.
Elves that did not know of the Trolls, but one had found them? He found it hard to believe that it was as simple as that. They were planning something, perhaps had been planning something for quite some time! “How far away are these Elves? What area are they in?”
“They are near the Ruins of (the great old master troll)’s, in the valley below, not two day’s walk from here!” The small lumpy Troll was not necessarily eager to battle the Elves himself, but he was bloodthirsty and hateful of them enough to wish the King to rain immediate destruction upon them. His brother had been killed on a scouting trip.
So close, and yet they were not even aware of them. “Thank you for bringing this to my attention, you have acted properly in the defense of the realm. Send another scout to the area to keep an eye on things, order him not to do anything, and take four days off in the Pleasure Pit. When you have rested, return to that place and keep watch over the situation there if I have not dealt with it by then. Do nothing but watch, and rush here immediately if that lout Patchsmith tries to lead an Elvin attack!”
“Yes sire, Thank you sire! You are mighty and all-wise, my King!” He continued to bow and scrape before the King as he backed out of the chamber.
The two guards that remained with the King were his personal, hand picked and most trustworthy guards, but they were also his council. They had been trained by those before them, and they had been trained by those before them, personally sired and groomed by the King himself. They knew that their lives were short, as age slowed the body, but the promise of death in the King’s Pleasure Pit? There could be no better way to go! At least not here.
The Pleasure Pit was the King’s positive reinforcement to keep his servants loyal. Those that served the king well were allowed a short time in the Pit, surrounded by gems and gold, dancers and playthings, anything a Troll could imagine that would make him happy. Short stays gave incentive to his servants to keep on being productive, longer stays…. It seemed that there was a limit to the amount of time a Troll could spend having every whim filled, every need drenched, and every desire satisfied. For those that had no other drive than to have their needs filled, the Pit held death; a sweet death of unendurably pure pleasure of every kind imaginable. Only those that had the ambition to counter the drive for pleasure could resist the Pit.
Ambition was not allowed to survive in Guttlekraw’s realm. Ambition would lead to overthrow, as it had in the forest.
Any show of ambition was immediately and irrevocably dealt with by the King himself, with the sharp cool edge of his blade.
Other, more minor distasteful behavior was dealt with in a similar fashion to good behavior. One who disobeyed and survived the King’s rage was sentenced to a period in the Pit of Pain, a place as cruel and unendurable as the Pleasure Pit was pure bliss. As in this other place, a short stay in the Pit of Pain ensured that the one responsible for the misdeed could hardly keep the experience from their memory. The one major difference with this Pit is that few ever spoke of it, and fewer returned without scars that ran from their body to their mind.
As it was, neither Pit was used all that often. The whole kingdom had grown lethargic, and Guttlekraw knew this. He hadn’t found any way to combat it, but the endless ages of battle with the same foes, the unending sameness of day to day life ground on and on, to the point that none were inspired to seek the King’s pleasure, only to avoid the Pit of Pain.
Of course, there was one other punishment in the Realm that worked itself out: slavery. Though they were few, and growing fewer, a Troll could be stripped of his position, his wealth, his family, and forced to work for any of the King’s favorites. Treachery was a sign of ambition, but ambition did not seem to fit Patchsmith. Quite the opposite it seemed to Guttlekraw, and until recently when the tinkerer disappeared he had been quite the asset. The King hated to be wasteful of anything, especially talent. Some time in the Pit of Pain and then a lifetime of forced labor was almost too good for Patchsmith, but his services were needed, at least until another could be found to show his talent!
Guttlekraw spoke with his guards. They were as wise as he could train them without them getting smart enough to think for themselves. He discussed plans, and discussed the future….
Hail had hidden his harness in his favorite tree and hurried home. A bit of youthful excitement for all the new experiences the last few days pushed him along. His new friendship was also a reason to celebrate, but as he neared the house he came to realize that these ‘Trolls’ were just what his parents were probably afraid of, why they wanted to keep him away from the cliffs. He had no fear of Patchsmith harming anyone, but he knew that he’d be tied up to keep him from returning if it came to it. He sobered up as he neared his family’s settlement.
Smoke lazily rolled from the solid stone chimney embedded in the solid walls. Old Grodger was just one of the stone shapers in the valley, but his work was as near to perfect as could be expected. His mate was a tree shaper and had formed the roof of the dwelling out of a single branch of a nearby tree. Unlike their ancestors before the Go-Backs had left the father-tree, this group of Elves felt no need to ‘go along with nature’, and while they would not abuse the valley’s beauty, hey embraced the function of everything they could do or work with. As such, when Grodger’s wife formed a wooden chair or tool, or in this case a whole roof, she would shape the wood into what was needed and then force the living wood into a state that would last for ages without rotting, then she would detach it from the tree or whatever stock she was using. In this way, the couple only had to leave their house when a new family settled in another place, or if some part of an old house was damaged.
Hail’s home was all one level, with a gently sloping roof down to the front entrance and the chimney in the back, peeking above the roof. His parents had little or no shaping ability, and his mother seemed to not be able to send. She could receive sendings, however. *Mother, are you nearby the house?* Hail sent timidly, fearing an uproar for being away again so long.
“I’m inside, and you better come in if you want something to eat!” her voice seemed to float through the slats they used for windows. The stone slats were angled to keep most of the wind and snow out, but let some light through during the day time. Not many in the valley used anything different, as it seemed to all that if you wished to see something outside then all one needed to do was step out. The slats could also be sealed with wooden strips to keep all weather out, but most kept a few open for fresh air, and just burned a little more wood to make up for the lost heat. Hail went inside.
“I’m not even going to ask where you’ve been, you know better! You’re getting old enough to know you need to stay around here to help out! Crops don’t plant themselves! You like a full belly all year, right?”
Next she'll be saying that 'nuts don't grow on trees' or something just as silly, Hail mused. Instead of a retort, he said “Yes, mom, I understand, but you’ve got to know that I need to climb from time to time, though! I’ll go mad as a rock-shaper in a pond if I don’t get out there sometimes!”
“I can’t believe we’re having this argument! Your injuries from last time you fell have hardly healed and you nearly died because of your foolish climbing! Are you some kind of rock-shaper, having to be close to stone all the time or something? Of course not! You’re going to get yourself killed! You know the closest healer is half a day’s walk from here, and even farther from your precious cliffs!” It was an old argument, but one that his mother preferred.
Hail almost slipped and brought up that he wouldn’t fall anymore with his new harness, but he knew that would be pointless and he’d be forced to give it up, and then when they noticed the bright-metal parts they would ask where he got it. They would probably make good their threats of tying him down in the house if they knew he had been talking with a Troll! Fortunately, the heated discussion was interrupted by a rumble outside. Hail went to look.
There was a storm brewing near the mouth of the valley. The fluffy white clouds overhead blended to grey, and then to black at the heart of the storm. This rare but brutal spring storm could nearly wash away a stone house of the valley, could destroy crops, uproot trees, and flush game away for a time. The last such storm was the one in which Hail had been born and named, while hailstones the size of an Elf’s head ground the trees and vegetation down and threatened to beat its way in through the roof.
Today’s roiling cloud mass was sweeping up the valley at incredible speed. Hail ran from the house to go save his harness, his mother yelling behind him. He wasn’t sure what he was going to do, where to place the harness. Oblivious to the pending danger of the storm, he sprinted and sprang from branch and stone to save his harness from getting wet. He’d seen smaller storms before and knew the hollow he’d hidden his harness in would get rainwater in it, but he couldn’t recall a hollow tree to leave it in that wasn’t already occupied.
This was still running though his thoughts when he got to it and picked it up. He looked around himself and saw no safe place for the harness, ignorant of the greater danger to himself. Skyfire was beginning to leap across the clouds, and he quickly learned that this was the cause of the sound he’d heard earlier. The rain was starting to fall hard enough he could ignore it no longer. He thought briefly about heading for the warmth of home, but he didn’t want to have to explain running out or what the harness was for…. Instead he found himself heading for the base of the cliffs. He’d climbed during the melt from time to time, but not during rain. In the uncertainty of the moment, however, the pull of the cliffs beckoned to him, almost pleading him to come to them… He could decide to do nothing other than to listen and follow.
He tried to outrace the storm. As he ran, and as the goal of climbing solidified in his mind he found he remembered a small recessed cave a little ways up his favorite climb. It would be an easy thing to reach…
The rain poured down on him. He looked quite humorous, he realized, getting soaked to the bone, running full out in the rain, hunched over to try to keep the harness dry! He hadn’t even tried it out yet, so he wasn’t about to let it get ruined. As he approached the cliffs, he noticed that the rain was coming in at an angle, so there were spots in the stone walls of the cliff where the rain was barely noticeable.
His route appeared to mostly be in one of those very “dry” zones. He donned his harness, got his new tools ready, and started up. He was so excited with the experience he failed to think how he was getting back down after hiding the harness if he was wearing it to get there, so he began his climb.
He mostly free-climbed the first while, as it was all he knew. He tried to see the various features that the different kinds of stakes, clamps, cleats, and other hardware were supposed to go, but it took a while to get used to actually stopping and putting them in, tying off, moving on. He even started to get frustrated as it took time and interrupted the climb, and bitterly reminded himself of the pain of the fall last time.
He finally reached his small cave, hundreds of feet above the trees. A modest height compared to the full extent of the cliffs, but one of his favorite spots to overlook the valley. Today, there was nothing but dark grey to see, the occasional flash, and water. He couldn’t even consider it to be rain at this point! It seemed more like a waterfall had sprung from higher up and was pouring water on the trees below, but everywhere! …And the wind? He started to notice the first round of wet hail whipping almost sideways across the cave entrance as it rattled off the rock face. This, his namesake, was another experience he’d never had, only heard about from his parents.
He picked up a few pieces of the white ice balls. They seemed harmless, even blown by the wind. The strangest part he was noticing was that though they were cold ice, his fingers strangely felt slightly warm. He couldn’t be sure he wasn’t imagining it. He let some melt in his hand, bit a few, and just generally played with the small hailstones… until he noticed that they had petered out for a bit and were coming back, this time larger!
They were still small, not even as big around as his smallest finger. There seemed to be fewer of them as well, more spaced out. They reminded him of the balls of white-cold he used to throw at his dad when he was little, only smaller. It was as though someone or something was out there, packing more and more white-cold around the ice pieces, but they weren’t fighting fair if this was a white-fight! He had none to throw back at them, and they were using ice!
Another round of hail passed, even bigger than before! The hailstones were doubling in size in each wave, and they were threatening to be the size of his fist in the next wave or two! They were already big enough and fast enough to bruise if he’d been hit by one, so he moved to the back of the cave, happy he had decided to wait here and not keep climbing, or that he wasn’t still in the forest below. Either way he’d be in lots of pain….
And indeed they were getting larger still. One made its way in and rolled to his feet, almost the size of a murkfruit! It wouldn’t be long before they were the same size he’d been told they were when he was born! He hoped his parents were ok, that the roof still held, that perhaps this was only going on here and not hurting the crops!
Indeed, it was only a few minutes more and a few hailstones cracked a stone or two off of the mouth of the cave, nearly as large as his head! It was clear that if he didn’t have this cave he’d be nutmash in little time at all, and he further realized that if the wind changed direction this may happen anyway: the cave was not all that deep!
But all he could do was wait out the storm. He could not remember anyone saying how long the last storm lasted, if it was minutes, hours, days? As it was, he couldn’t be sure that he could tell night from day, the dark clouds seemed to glow ominously with their own light, blocking any sign of sun or moons.
A bolt of Skyfire flashed nearby, and the cave seemed to shake a little. The ear shattering boom seemed to obscure even the deafening noise of the rest of the storm, so he couldn’t be sure if some of the stone had been blasted away. The blinding flash had ensured that he couldn’t see much for a few moments, and all he felt like he could do was throw his arms over his head and hope nothing would harm him.
Guttlekraw smiled. The timing seemed good. He knew it was not a good tactical choice to take on battle on two fronts, but these lazy minions needed something to snap them out of their dull existence! This could be just the thing he’d needed!
It was decided they had a little time before they could expect anything from the Elves, and he sent several of his specially trained Black Guard to secretly keep an eye on Patchsmith and prepare to seal off the shaft to slow down any attack that may come before they were ready.
There was a rare ruse the King used in these situations: Play the Good King. These dim witted Trolls could see gold in their hands and feel rich, even though every little thing of value in his kingdom was Guttlekraw’s alone! So he would “pay” much more than usual for workers to turn out more armor, weapons, or whatever was needed and just expect more tribute later, after the particular crisis was over. All gold eventually flowed to King Guttlekraw!
He had decided not to bother keeping the traitor around. Other reports had come in about Patchsmith’s ramblings and it was obvious he would be worthless as a worker. There was one thing that could be done to salvage some of his knowledge for others, however. It was a long and arduous process, but one he had a great appreciation for. His smile turned into a perverse grin. He ordered to have the giant brought to him alive and subdued.
He set his workers to improving the weapons and armor, trained his solders more, and toyed with the idea of bringing forth an ancient force to ensure the outcome of this battle….
As his hearing came back, it seemed as though the air was still crackling around him. Something smashed into his knee, jarring him to the side. His vision had returned enough to see an ice ball a third his height laying in the cave next to him. He nursed his knee, found it wasn’t broken, and rocked, holding it. The pain finally subsided enough he could look at the ice block, It, too, seemed to glow slightly, but he couldn’t be sure in this light. The hailstone was impressive, nonetheless.
He hoped there would be no more. This one should have broken his leg as it was, a larger one would crush him! It seemed that the storm was subsiding, though. At least, the rain and the hail seemed to be going away, but the wind still tore at his face when he looked out to check on it. He decided he would wait out the full force of the storm and sleep, hiding behind the hailstone for protection. He took off his harness and put away his tools in the back of the cave.
Hail’s parents were worried sick. The house had survived the storm, but barely. If magically hewn stone and hardwood had been nearly destroyed by the force of the storm, how could a youth, alone and by himself?
Already, sendings were felt from others in the valley, letting the others know if they were fine or what damage had happened to their dwellings. There was an order to it, the older settlers sending first, younger last. It was just about Hail’s family’s turn, and as they prepared to send that Hail was missing, he came bounding down the path, slightly limping, but otherwise unscathed. A frustrated *All’s well here* went out from his father.
Hail struggled to explain what had happened, how he made it through. He told them about the hailstone that hit him, but not of his climbing gear, his special cave, and the other things his parents didn’t know about. They knew he climbed, so he left that in, but he had a hard time with the reason why he was only hit with a single hailstone and survived, as he couldn’t bring himself to lie to them. It helped that they were just glad to see him.
An old, old mining song emanated from Patchsmith’s cavern as he pounded away at forging a simple metal shaft. It was a song of finding a vein of gold while mining ore, the shimmer of wealth pushing out the drudgery of daily grunt-work. It was not a song that had been sung in Guttlekraw’s kingdom for ages, but it seemed to fit Patchsmith’s mood. All gold was the King’s, and one would normally not even pretend to themselves that a find could be their own, but this friendship with an Elf, far, far from the endless demands for appeasement from the King was a rare and precious gift, more valuable to him than mere gold could ever be. Who could have known that he would feel more of a bond with an Elf, one who was supposed to be an enemy!
“Leeching from the King’s hoard, Patchsmith? What treasure could you have found to sing about?” a snickering voice of gravel spoke from behind him.
Patchsmith whirled to see one of the King’s farscouts and a squad of guards standing in the entrance, blocking any hope of escape. He wavered with a moment of apprehension, but turned instead, simply stating, “Just leave me in peace or kill me where I stand, I’ll not go back to work for the likes of you!”
“And leave you plotting the overthrow of everything sane, everything King Guttlekraw has worked so hard to provide for us? You would like that! You would prefer to die before telling us what you have betrayed to the Elves about our defenses! Traitor!” Not that Farscout really felt such loyalty himself, but as a formality of accusation, it helped to reduce the prisoner to something contemptible before hauling him away. To the guards, “Seize him, take him away!”
As the guards approached the tall, silent Troll, Patchsmith considered his options. There weren’t many. Give in, give up, and perhaps find some way to put an end to himself, or fight it out against impossible odds and die honorably, at least by his own standards…. escape was unlikely either way, except for the sweet release of his miserable existence.
In his hand, the glowing shaft he’d been beating started to swing. The dull red hot metal arced through the air, and into the eyes of the nearest guard. He noticed that the guards had brought clubs and not edged weapons, and tried to remember if this was part of some ritual of punishment, being beaten to death. As he maimed two guards and nearly killed another, it still didn’t occur to him that they were under explicit orders to bring him back alive on penalty of death. ‘Alive’ was the only condition, however, and he finally fell to the blows of the guards.
Guttlekraw grinned as he surveyed the chained and beaten Patchsmith. He had lost a good guard in his capture, and another guard may be blind, but he needed to know how badly this misbegotten giant had hurt his kingdom. He would extract the price of the guards from his flesh soon enough.
His perverse mind seethed with ideas, trying to figure out best way to make the biggest example, inflict the worst punishment, extract the most information, and keep the traitor alive for more… There had not been a traitor to the kingdom of this one’s like for a thousand crustings! First things first, though.
He brought the blazing brand up from the brazier that had been brought beside his throne. There had been a Troll, long ago, that had escaped unmarked, and blended in with the workers. There was little chance of Patchsmith blending in, but the King had made it a policy that the mark be applied first, torture later, and he would brand this one himself.
It wasn’t about pain at this point, the disgruntled King reasoned, or he would have let the brand cool before pressing it into the traitor’s forehead, he wished the mark to be clean and visible, and he had to be quick to do this. The brand was glowing golden yellow as it burned deep into the flesh.
Patchsmith groaned. It hurt but just a moment as the nerves were seared away and the brand burned its way down to the bone. It was small consolation as he realized that for the little time he had left he would be looking back to this pain with fond memories, wishing that the tortures the King had planned were only this bad…
He had no name; it had been stripped from him. He was only referred to as “Traitor” when he was referenced at all. He hung suspended from the back wall of Guttlekraw’s throne room, as the King took such pleasure from inflicting such torment himself. Who else knew this dark art with such mastery? Only he could do this, only he had the nose for it, and he did it in plain view of anyone who wished to see what would befall them if they were to cross the King! Students from the Pit of Pain stood by, learning little other than what could be done. Guttlekraw knew more than the how, the why, the when… he knew the what. What torment would enact the exact reaction he wished from the Traitor. What agony that would fit in the mind of the Traitor just right to get him to crack. Long were the days of simple live dismemberment over: a missing limb could feel no pain! There were none his equal in this art!
Unknown to Guttlekraw, Greymung may not have his mastery of skill, but he relished this perverse joy of torture as much as he. Had he known this now he would make an attempt at putting an end to that rebellious leader right away!
For now, though, he knew that the Traitor was going to crack soon. Just the right amount of unending, ever-changing pain and torment without the luxury of death would reduce even the strongest to submission, passed the point of lies, the point of partial truth, past the point of any self volition to contradict the tormentor. A change would occur, quite suddenly, and the worthless Traitor would become the most obedient, most loyal member of the Kingdom for a time, telling him everything he wished to know, even doing anything the King wished! The change was permanent, but he would not be released, he would die! Such was the King’s rage: Traitors would die, even if they could be reformed, but they would be destroyed first! This one would betray anything and everything he held dear, including what he had done….
…He would betray his friend, the Elf. It was only a matter of time.
That's great, Tenderfoot - loveliness ... friendship ... grief ... comfort - a fascinating read!
lunakat expressed it so very well - I only could echo her. Wondering about the forth child, too - who is it we have forgotten?
As far as One-Eye's little girl - curious what her name will be - is concerned ... don't forget it's an AU All the birthes are much closer together (i.e. Redmark and Skywise are agemates). Scouter can easily be born in two years. I hope the little girl will survive - love her mismatched eyes.
Quite a contrast, TrollHammer - well written with picturing describtions and suspenseful, but sort of "split". Besides the serious threat the raging nature is posing, Hail's storyline is optimistic - a story of survival, of seeking new borders. Patchsmith's storyline is dark once more - a story of malignance and destruction, leading straight into doom ...
Please not again a story about an extraordinary troll who is cut to pieces - be it literally or in the figurative sense. I hope that the idea of a troll/elf friendship (maybe even including a dragon) is too good to sacrifice it to Guttlecraw's whim. You put Patchsmith in this pit - now do your best to get him out here - preferably in one piece!
Very well written, Trollhammer!! Echoing all that Embala said
Thanks a lot! the 'next' installment (story #4 in the series) came out way faster than I thought and it's going up tonight, if the computer keeps working...
...now for some collages?
It's brilliant Embala!
Still stuck with the June Grab Bag, so I went back to letting Toron and Sturkas torture me. Yay. Am I not nice my myself?
Help has many names
Toron stopped short at the sudden roar and frowned, pausing in thought. He knew that voice... and judging by the volume, Sturkas had once again pissed Tenderfoot off. His bõ-staff was strapped to his back and today's prey dangled from his right hand. With a slight chuckle, he continued down the line of trees, listening to the shrieks and curses.
Yup. Definitely pissed off.
“Oh, sweet Sturkas,” Toron sighed. “What have you done?”
He shook his head and continued on, his grin widening with each new crash or thud. Tenderfoot in such a good mood always meant a good wrestle match (or an extra piece of writing) for him and Sturkas. Either way, fun. A girly shriek erupted from the open window and Toron let out a snort. That was not Tenderfoot. But the demanding “Get back here!” was. Oh yeah, that was her. No doubt. The redhead slipped through the front door and made it through the tiny hallway as a particularly loud crash could be heard somewhere else in the house. He paused and frowned. Okay, that was odd. The crash came from first floor, which could only mean... they were not in her room. Well, at least that could explain her fury. Leaving her room was a big no-no. They knew. Tenderfoot had made sure it hit them, she even stood for some of the hitting herself! Toron shook his head again and smiled while bouncing soundlessly up the few steps, finally arriving at his destination and he pushed the door open, stepping inside.
And promptly stopped dead, his jaw falling to the floor.
The living room was a mess, worse than usual and if he hadn't known people lived here, he would have thought it to be deserted. And amidst it all... the sources of this chaos. Tenderfoot was indeed running around the place with murder in her eyes, chasing after Sturkas. But there was one thing different in this picture.
While Tenderfoot usually chased after them with nunchakus, pens or pencils or even a bucket of paint or a wooden spoon (weird, huh?), she only did it for fun or to make them leave her alone. Or if she was thoroughly pissed off. She never intended to hurt them as she was born a pacifist, only going violent when it was no other way (and we see how well that's going). But now...
Tenderfoot was holding a club, raised above her head.
This was so wrong.
“You're playing with fire, big boy!” I spat as Sturkas jumped over the table and I followed.
The elf in question ducked as I took a swing at him, sweat having broken out on his forehead and blue eyes wide with terror.
“I said I was sorry!” he gasped.
My reply to that was a loud growl. Sturkas cursed (hey, do elves curse? And where did they learn the human words for it? *completely innocent*) and jumped away from yet another swing with my club. He made a line for the door and turned in the last second, scuttling under the table instead and jumping onto the next one. I followed him, teeth bared and veins popping out in my neck. He whimpered.
“Silence!” I yelled.
“This is MY house!”
“Which means you're following MY rules!”
And when you don't... well, you'll have to take the consequences. MY consequences.
“Stand still!” I snarled. “Stand still so I can kill you!”
Over three chairs and around two corners, over the kitchen table three times and back into the living room.
“What did I do?” Sturkas gasped.
Thunk, thunk. Fwap. And indignant “Hey!”. Thunk.
“Just drop dead!”
“It's payback time!”
“And I won't go easy on you!”
Another swing and Sturkas ducked. Blue eyes finally fell on the redhead by the door and I glared.
“Toron, help me catch this bastard!”
Before he could answer me, I was after Sturkas again, repeatedly swinging my club and trying to smack him in the back of his head with it.
“Just what do you think you're doing?” I heard Toron ask from behind me.
“Getting away with murder!”
“Yikes!” Sturkas yelped.
“What did you do?” Toron called out.
“I was trying to help!” Sturkas panted.
“You deleted my friggin' story!”
“How could I know it was the 'delete' button!? They all look the same!”
“To a complete idiot, yeah!”
“Revenge is sweet!”
“You damn friggin' fraggin' fruggin' fuckin'...!”
Sturkas gave another girly shriek and exited the kitchen yet again, only to return moments later with me still hot on his trail, club raised above my head.
“My club will feast on Sturkas flesh!”
We managed to do three laps around the first floor before I bothered casting a glance at Toron again. When I did, I wished I hadn't. I froze in place and nearly dropped the club as my eyes widened to a double size (and they're pretty large from before, I musta looked like a bug or somethin').
“What have you done with Mr. Huggles!?”
Silence. Toron winced from the intensity in my voice.
“Mr. Huggles?” Sturkas whispered with raised eyebrows, having dared to stop on the other side of the room.
The redhead glanced down at the prey in his hand. A rabbit. A very dead rabbit. Which was already dead when he snatched it.
“It's, uh...” He quickly held it behind his back. “It's nothing!”
Oh, so innocent he was with those large green eyes of his. Coulda fooled me. But he didn't. The club connected with the wooden ground with a loud BAM and I strode over to him in three steps, murder in my eyes. I reached behind him and snatched the rabbit, holding it up to see what damage had been done.
I nearly cried.
What used to be shaped as a rabbit was now a blob of fur. One eye hung from its eye socket, the only connection between the two being the string that miraculously still held. The former white coat was now spotted with grime and just below its right front paw, its insides had begun to seep out.
Both elves glanced at each other before moving towards me, mumbling “What?”. When no reply came, they looked at me. Then did a double take.
My eyes were wide open in shock, blue gaze fixed on the beat-up mess of a rabbit. Breathing shaky and fists clenched tight. Eye ridges knitted in an unsettling expression. And finally, the tears.
“Mr. Huggles!” I whispered.
Unease bloomed in their abdomens and they felt a pang of guilt. Then Toron laid a hand on my shoulder and gave it a small squeeze.
“Hey,” he muttered. “It was already dead when I found it.”
Click. My head snapped up and I stared at him, a feral look in my eyes.
“Dead?” I ground out. “Dead!? Mr. Huggles isn't dead!”
“Not alive, at least,” Sturkas mumbled as he poked the thing in my hands.
“But it didn't move,” Toron said. “So I thought you wouldn't mind if I used it for practice and-”
Both elves flinched. Ouch... They stuck their fingers in their ears, then patted them carefully. Had they gone deaf? Judging by the expressions on their faces as I screamed curses in all the languages I knew (and that's quite a lot), I guess not.
“You used Mr. Huggles for practice!?” I shoved the rabbit into his face. “You did this to him!?”
“He was already dead...”
I nearly threw the rabbit to the floor, but caught myself just in time as I remembered what I was holding.
“Mr. Huggles isn't dead!” I yelled. “He can't die, 'cause he's a stuffed animal!”
Sturkas raised an eyebrow.
“Then why are you so mad?”
A snarl from me silenced him immediately.
“Mr. Huggles was one of my first stuffed animals! And now you've ruined him!”
Hugging the rabbit close to me, I reached for the club again and held it above my head, a feral look on my face as I bared my teeth. Toron and Sturkas locked eyes. Then proceeded to run for their lives with me right behind them, out the door and into our garden. There I paused for a moment to give them a head start (I know, aren't I an angel?), then cried out in exasperation to the twilight sky.
“Thank you for giving me sisters!”
The sun is shining brightly, but it does not blind her. It reaches down with its golden rays, caressing her with its warming touch, kissing the bare skin on her face, her arms, her legs. Her bed is a field of flowers, their sweet smell her lullaby. They bend gently to the side and do not crush underneath her. Her face is no longer a mask of lies, but a living being and of truth itself. It holds a content look, innocence is radiating from her like the rays from the sun. Her hair is spread around her, framing her head like an angelic halo. She is at ease. Finally at ease, and she hopes it will last.
Surely nothing can rip this dream apart.
A hand on my shoulder pulled me out of the blessed darkness and I was shaken awake in a way that truly does not fit for a girl. I frowned and batted the hand away, a growl escaping my dry lips. The hand returned a moment later and this time I pried my eyes open with a groan. God, had someone glued my eyes together during the night? Trying to open them was an impossible task, one I abandoned rather quickly. Again I was shaken awake, but this time I managed to force one eyelid up while leaning onto my elbow. Though my sight was far from true to its name, I could make out two blurry shapes by my bed. Wait, my bed? Where did all the flowers go? The sun, the smells, the good feeling that came with them? It suddenly dawned on me and I suppressed a groan.
Man, it was only a dream!
I glared at the blobs. The poor excuses for colors barely stood out from the darkness surrounding them, but I still had no problem with recognizing them. I frowned.
“You ripped my dream apart,” I sulkingly mumbled.
“Time for writing,” Sturkas said, seemingly unfazed by my accusation.
I did my best to scowl at him and yawned loudly, my jaws popping as the yawn nearly split my face in half. Toron rolled his eyes.
“It's not that early.”
“It's three o'clock in the morning,” I pointed out after having checked the clock on my nightstand, my voice heavy and laced with the remains of the yawn.
I turned around again and pulled the duvet back over my head, waving my arm at them.
“Wake me up at five P.M.”
Toron and Sturkas exchanged glances and suddenly I was no longer in bed. The duvet was ripped off and it must have collected me on the way, for the next moment I landed on the kitty carpet hard. And when I say hard, I really mean hard. I yelped as I connected with the floor and my hand immediately tried to rub the soreness away. I glared up at the two elves, sleep still evident in my eyes. God, they were irritating!
It was still pitch black outside when they dragged me over to the chair and dropped me onto it. The light on my desk was turned on and suddenly my eyes were on fire, though my inner firemen quickly came to the rescue and put it out, leaving cascades of tears running down my cheeks. Blinded by this light, so far from the wonderful sun, I reached up and flicked the switch off before I turned to glare at Sturkas. He grinned sheepishly. I rolled my eyes.
This was gonna be a looong night.
My hand reached for the bowl with M&Ms, those yummy ones with chocolate and peanuts, but was stopped by a four fingered one. I looked up to meet a stern, green gaze, belonging to none other than Toron.
“No,” he simply said. “They're full of this shoo-gar and you are highly allergic to it. I will not be held responsible for making your throat swell up and cause you to suffocate. Besides, you always write crappy stuff during these shoo-gar shocks.”
My brows furrowed in perfectly hid irritation, but I could do nothing to stop my shoulders from slumping in disappointment.
“But I'm tired,” I whined. “And if I don't get a kick, I'll never finish the story.”
I leaned back in my chair, arms crossed (how I did that with Toron still having my hand “cuffed” I still wonder about) and lower lip stuck out in a pout. Toron stared at me in disbelief, something close to shock written all over his elven features. He palmed his face and dragged his hand over his closed eyes, cracking them open to look at me.
“You've been taking lessons, haven't you?” he ground out through clenched teeth.
“Yep!” Sturkas beamed. “She's my best student!”
Refusing to admit defeat, Toron simply closed his eyes as he let go of my hand (Hah!). It quickly resumed to its task and snatched the bowl away from the desk before it returned to its master.
“And for your information,” I held a red M&M between middle finger and thumb while pointing at the captain with my forefinger. “I don't swell up in my throat. I swell up here.”
With a single gesture towards my still flat belly, I threw the red M&M up into the air, leaned back and caught it with my mouth. I spun around in my chair, chewing on the little clot of sugar, artificial colors and other stuff I haven't bothered to learn the name of. Then, with the sudden sugar boost, my fingers roamed over the keyboard and Sturkas cheered me on, while Toron was left to sulking over me 'not respecting his captain title'.
They sat on the large bed that was placed on the right side of the desk, legs pulled up to their chests and chins resting on small knees. Large eyes were glued to the young girl in front of the 'puter, following her fingers with interest. How she managed to make so many bug tracks that made sense, was still a mystery to them, but she had been kind enough not to rub it in. In fact she had offered to teach them the art of “reading”, as she so nicely put it. What she thought was so special abut this ree-ding, they still had to figure out. But as long as they were able to help her, they were fine.
The bed dipped as the two elves shifted, the soft, white duvet, spotted with colorful flowers, following the shape of their bodies. Above the bed was a shelf filled with cat sculptures of all sizes, one, two and three together. There was even one cat who held another bridal style, seemingly about to give mouth-to-mouth. And underneath the wooden shelf hung three medals in red and blue ribbons, one silver and two gold. On the surface of the medals there were two men fighting, one of them in attack-mode with a fly kick. Looking at the girl in front of them, they found it hard to believe that she was the owner of these medals, two won when she was 13 and one at barely 14. Hurting others was not her way, the two of them often said to each other, but the fight was in her eyes. Deep blue they were, light glittering on their glass-clear surface. Inside the blue was a fire that burned with a passion, the reason for why the medals hung in her room. But right now, the fire was dimmed. On her face was a look of concentration, blond brows neatly furrowed and soft, pink lips forming a straight, pouting line.
She was struggling. Green and blue eyes locked and the former of the two slid off the bed.
“What do you think of the new-green thing?” he asked.
I grunted, didn't answer. Didn't have time. I wanted to have this story finished sooner or later, and was going for the former. Next to the computer was all the papers I had scribbled on throughout the month, now I was trying to sort them out and put them together in a way that made sense. From his seat on the bed, Sturkas tilted his head to the side.
“Maybe you should go easy on yourself,” he suggested. “Just this once.”
I grunted again, flipped through a havoc of these handwritten pages, made notes here and there with a pencil. Toron slipped over to my side and peered over my shoulder. They had learned to recognize some of the bug tracks – I mean words (damn elves, they've got a bad influence on me!) - and thus he was able to make out some sense of what I had written so far. A smile grazed his features, one I didn't see as my eyes were glued to the screen.
“Using new-green to accentuate the coldness of his eyes are great!” he said. “I like that.”
I lifted my head and turned to look at him.
“You can get the cookies yourself,” I said and turned back to the computer. “All you have to do is look in the closet.”
Toron raised his eyebrows and turned to Sturkas, eyes wide. The younger of the two blinked before he shrugged and climbed down from the bed, moving past Toron and me and stopping in front of the closet. He opened the door and stuffed his entire upper body in, feet dangling wildly in the air as he searched for the 'shuggar' stuff, as he so smartly put it. The redhead frowned slightly.
“Sturkas, mind your head.”
“No worries, I know what I'm doing,” came the muffled reply.
“Sure. You said that when you were hunting in the garage.”
“Hey, that wasn't my fault! Eros shut the door on me...”
Toron rolled his eyes before letting them run over the closet's contents. After a few seconds another frown etched its way onto his forehead, this time of worry.
“I do advice you to be very careful when you remove stuff from that closet. It doesn't look safe.”
“Now you're starting to sound like that mother hen of a sister Tenderfoot's got.”
Toron blinked. There were two, at least, if you also counted the remaining family members.
“The cutie with the kick-arse figure,” came my dazed reply (yeah, I had been following their conversation somewhere in the back of my mind – it does register some strange things, or what?).
I froze as my mind registered too late what slipped out of my mouth and quickly lifted my gaze upwards, a pink tinge adorning my cheeks. I didn't...! Toron stopped dead in his tracks, having decided it was time to dig his 'little brother' out of the closet, but now turned to me.
“Is there something you're not telling us?” he asked, wide eyed.
“What cutie?” Sturkas asked and quickly turned to try and look at me. “Ow!”
I turned to face them over the back of my chair, only to be met with a clueless Toron and Sturkas' blue clad backside sticking out of my closet. A loud bonk indicated that he had indeed banged his head on the closet wall, which also caused various items to fall on him. He brought an arm up and was able to cover his face just in time and Toron and I could only watch helplessly as the youngest elf was half buried in clothes and other stuff (I told you I used my closet for more than just clothes). Then Toron's mind seemed to click and he jumped into action with an alarmed cry, pulling all the stuff off his 'little brother' and digging him out. I followed a second later and watched as a quivering Toron turned his 'brother' over carefully, the latter clinging to some gray piece of clothing.
“Sturkas?” he whispered. “Sturkas, say something!”
Cradling the brown head with one hand, the redhead tapped his 'brother's' cheek when there was no reply. Starting to feel a little worried myself, I reached down and pressed my finger on his neck, counting his pulse. Normal. His breathing was a bit ragged, but he was alive. I frowned.
“Come on, Sturkas,” I pleaded. “I'm not going to the hospital.”
A groan was his reply and unfocused blue eyes cracked open, peeking over the gray clothing. Toron cried out in relief and I found myself letting out a breath I hadn't known I was holding. Before the elven captain could crush-hug his 'little brother', a frown etched its way onto my face.
“Don't scare me again like that!” I barked, then remember something my father had once told me about people who had banged their heads and I raised my hand. “How many fingers am I holding up?”
Sturkas looked up at me from his position on the floor, blinked a few times to focus and did not succeed.
“... five,” he slurred.
Toron's eyes locked with mine and we frowned simultaneously as I lowered my hand. I was only holding up two...
“Hey,” the fallen elf muttered, drawing our attention back to him as he held up the gray piece of clothing. “When, where and why did you get this one?”
If my face was pink before, it could now give Toron's hair a run for his money. In Sturkas' grasp was a thigh-short gray dress, adorned with black spots reminiscent of a snow leopard. No sleeves or strings were attached to it, only the bearers bust would hold it up. Around the upper middle was draped a black, silken ribbon, with a large bow that covered what the dress would not. My eyes widened and I choked on a gasp, but it was upon seeing Toron's thunderstruck gaze that I acted. I tore the dress out of Sturkas' hands and held it behind my back, blushing furiously as I sputtered and tried to curse him for looking through my stuff, but sadly my brain was not with me today. Last week, Italy and cheap should have been the answers to his question. “F*ck you, go to Hell and hang yourself” seemed more correct, judging from the sounds I made. Sturkas only shrugged, something inside the closet moved and out fell the bag of cookies, landing directly in the blue eyed elf's hands. He glanced at it and a wide smile found its way onto his face. And thus I was left to try and coax the elves into not blackmailing me as I returned to writing, while the two of them tore into the bag of 'shougar' food, as Eros had once put it.
Oh, well. At least I got my closet all cleaned out.
oh, the terror those two are!
Yesterday I readed this story but didn't comment on it...shame me
But I loved it!!
And LOL I agree with faeriegirl!!
So that's how Sturkas got that bump in his head? Awsome story sis.
(A little note about the following: This was supposed to be script for one of my first claymation projects, which will tell you how long I’ve tried to work on that endeavor, failing miserably. Two years and all I have is the perform for the table, as well as part of the set materials for the scene. It’s going to be a while before I get anywhere.
It was obvious I wouldn’t get done with it a while ago, as it appears that I decided to write a short story version, and I didn’t get that done either. So tonight, upon finding it, I finished it and here it is for you to enjoy. I’m even leaving in the preface I origionally wrote, so you can poke more fun at me! )
Well, with the move and everything I’m not getting as much time as I was expecting to complete what I had planned for this month, so as a focus tool and because I’m itching to write, here is the story form of this month’s entry…
The group that had gathered were murmuring. Besides he and his mate Oddbit, there were a full eight or so of those King Picknose had invited to this special meeting. An odd lot, but something had to be done, and these before him were the most likely to care about this most pressing issue.
His voice rumbled as he tried to bring the motley crew to order. “If you will kindly shut yer yaps, I’ve called you all here for one reason, and it wasn’t to eat my food!”
The food of which he was referring was the bounty spread around the table. The King was at his best when his belly was full, so it must be for the rest. As it was, over half the dishes had been consumed, and a few, like Skywise, were so full it was becoming a serious dilemma as to whether or not they should even consider eating another bite. As it was, he found himself realizing that this was a meal he had not had to hunt, search for, or even work for, and he should enjoy it to the fullest. He eyed the last nut in the bowl in front of him, just far enough away he would have to stand to reach it, but it was one of his favorite things at the table….
“Spring is a time for new beginnings, but to begin anew, we need to do away with the old! What I brought you together today for is to bring to your attention a serious problem that is affecting us all-- Something that we need to stand up against and not stand for any longer. Each one of you has been abused for other’s entertainment!” He began gesturing to each member of the group as he listed off specific details:
“Some of you have been made to join against their will…” he waved in the direction of Leetah, who sighed and slumped down in her chair.
“…Others have been crushed to death…” he motioned to Brace. Brace didn’t really react, as he just sat there, more focused on making the patterns in the stone table swirl as he didn’t seem to have anything better to do.
“…Some were stabbed, shot, and dropped from great heights to their deaths…” gesturing to Kureel, who rolled his eyes.
“…Torn from their families for longer than their tribe had known before then…” pointing at Cutter, who winced at the memory.
“…Typecast as a psychotic mad doctor, baby thief and seductress, then stabbed, forced to jump off a cliff, killed, and forced to spend eternity locked in someone else’s head…” Obviously meaning Winnowil, whose nervous shuddering became more pronounced with each trait recounted.
“…or as a perpetual drunk…” he nodded at Pike, which was refilling his Troll mug with his sixth round of Dreamberry wine in the last hour.
“…even half drowned and bashed against a tree…” he mentioned about the squirrel sitting to his right, across from Skywise.
“…Or forced to play stereotypical roles as a ‘70s disco womanizer and yes man to the main character…” he said to Skywise, who wasn’t paying as much attention to Picknose’s ramblings as he was to the squirrel, who he had just noticed was eyeing the nut he was about to reach for.
“…The grievances are too many to list, but the point is, we don’t have to stand for it! The Pini’s have played with our destinies for far too long, and I say we put our foot and put an end to it! We Trolls can’t even get taken seriously as they’ve made us up to seem greedy, ignorant, foolish…” Picknose went on and on about the various things that he felt wronged about, but the meeting had already lost focus. The elves were either too caught up in their personal conflicts or chittering about what they were going to wear the next day. Winnowil and Leetah were in a debate over the proper way to hold their hands over an injured elf when healing them.
Cutter was excitedly trying to get Skywise’s attention from the far end of the table, as Skywise still felt the “soul brother” had never grown out of tagalong pup he’d always been and had worked it out so he was sitting as far from him as possible. Besides that, Skywise’s attention was firmly focused on the current situation brewing in front of him…. The squirrel had noticed that Skywise had noticed him, and the two braced to pounce on the last remaining nut between them. “You had better not even think about it, fish poker…” threatened Skywise under his breath.
It became evident that Skywise would best the squirrel with ease, as his longer limbs could move him closer to the nut faster than the little squirrel would be able to jump. Thinking quickly, the squirrel kicked some of the nut shells at Skywise as he was about to lunge for the nut. The hulls hit Skywise in the face, causing him to flinch for a moment as the squirrel leaped for the nut, grabbed it, did a back flip, and ran full out back towards his chair. Skywise recovered just in time to watch the squirrel wave its tail at him and squeak a mockery at him.
Skywise bounded over the table after the squirrel, trying to chase him down. In the process, he succeeds in tipping over Leetah’s goblet, and the cold liquid poured into her lap! She tried to twist away and bumped into Winnowil, who, in turn, bumped into Kureel. Kureel was in a semi-heated discussion with Pike and didn’t realize what was going on, so he shoved Winnowil back. Winnie cowered under the combined attack.
Meanwhile, Leetah threw what was left of her drink at Skywise, but missed and ended up hitting Pike. Pike was too far gone at this point to catch what happened and chucked his soup bowl across the table at Drub. All the while, Picknose is trying to regain control, “…Hey! Don’t! Stop it, you’re playing right into their hands! I knew I shouldn’t have let cameras in here, now they’re going to be talking about this for years! Cut it out and let him have the stupid nut, Skywise!” and so on.
The squirrel raced around the room with Skywise in hot pursuit. Pike’s soup bowl hit Drub square in the face. He probably couldn’t have done a better job of soaking a Troll with boiling liquid if he’d been sober. Drub jumped up enraged and knocked his chair into the one shared by Petalwing and Musing, causing the preservers to take flight. Petalwing circled the room, gleefully spouting nonsensical phrases about all the fun. Musing quietly flew up to the corner out of the way and hung from the ceiling.
The Troll Guard sitting two chairs down from Drub (you know, the one that was in every scene that a Troll Guard got killed or knocked into a bottomless pit, or crushed, or whatever) picked up his own soup bowl to heave it at Pike, who was now laughing hysterically at the mayhem. Before he could chuck it, Skywise ran into his arm, knocking the soup out of his hand and spinning him into Drub.
Drub slapped the Guard upside the head. Flustered, he sputtered and finally said “no wonder you wear a red shirt and get killed all the time! That’s all yer good for!” He gave the guard another good whack on the noggin, not really caring that the guard’s helmet was particularly suited to protect the guard from the main force of the half-hearted blow.
The Guard predictably took offense at the remark and slapped Drub, which started an exchange of loud blows. Pike laughed gleefully as he picked up the jug of wine and started drinking straight from it. Though the Troll mugs were plenty big, the jug was more prudent to get the brew into Pike much faster.
Things were not working out too well on the other side of the table. Leetah, Winnowil, and Kureel were engaged in a heated conversation consisting mostly of a form of body language known to a few masters as ‘slap-fu’. The main component of this universally understood, but rarely mastered non-verbal communication was the application of the hand across the other’s face in various patterns. The language is perfect for adding that ‘emotional inflection’ that is lacking in so many other non-verbal language types, as the speaker could apply the hand patterns with greater or lesser force to the face of the person they were communicating with directly in proportion to how strongly they felt about whatever they were talking about.
Kureel was about to find that ‘slap-fu’ was also a social language to get others involved in the free interchange of ideas at parties! Unfortunately, he sidestepped protocol and involved Pike by knocking the Dreamberry Wine jug into the stone table. The jug shattered nicely, wasting Pike’s treasured drink!
Pike stood weaving, holding the neck of the jug at eye level to see why it had gotten lighter all of a sudden. The jagged edges of broken jug seemed to speak Pike’s own innermost language, and the effect was… spectacular. Pike flew into a drunken rage (much the same that had been witnessed many times by the Wolfriders when the Pini’s weren’t looking, so it was a tale never told) and sadly it wasn’t a Wolfrider to take the brunt of his fury, but an anemic and pale Glider.
Kureel groaned a “not again!” as Pike drove the remainder of the jug into the Glider’s belly and leaped at the Trolls, who were gearing up to fling more food at him and each other. Kureel staggered back and fell at the base of the wall. He had known this pain again and again, so it wasn’t so much the shock of it happening, as much as the fact that there were two Healers within arms reach and they were too busy slapping each other to notice! He open-sent *uh, guys, um, a little help here?*
Leetah and Winnie paused just long enough to glance at what was going on. It seemed that the whole fight had been placed on pause as everyone turned to look at the bleeding Kureel. Pike had even rolled his eyes and turned to see why the ‘little scratch’ he’d given the Glider was such a big deal.
Leetah and Winnowil turned as one and rushed to his side. Leetah brushed Winnowil aside as she tried to start healing the ancient Elf, saying “I’ve got this”.
Winnowil frowned and brushed Leetah aside, telling her “I’ve got it, I’ve healed him before, you go make sure Pike doesn’t get any farther out of hand.”
“We don’t want him ending up like another Tyldak! Back off!” Leetah said as she shoved Winnowil off.
“Dark sister, you don’t even know what happened there, you back off, miss ‘I’m the pretty heroine!’” Winnie spat back at her as she backhanded Leetah.
Leetah returned to their previous conversation in the classic ‘Slap-fu’ retort “I’m serious, back off!” to which Winnowil replied with a left handed “Who died and made you queen?”
The return to physical conversation was contagious. Pike went back to the food fight with the Trolls, Skywise continued chasing the Squirrel around the room, and Petalwing started trying to make nests in Cutter’s hair. All the while, Picknose banged his scepter for order and Oddbit flailed her hands unable to cope with the goings on. Unnoticed by anyone else, Kureel grunted “uh, Mender? Medic? Anybody? What the heck, someone do something… ya gotta be kidding me...” before passing out completely.
“Do? Doooo?” Petalwing had heard the magic word. “Petalwing do! Petalwing do!” The preserver flew to the downed Glider and prepared to spit. After quite a bit of nose clearing and other sounds, the little preserver began to spit a gossamer web over the injured Elf. Once the Elf was covered, the diminutive Preserver sang “Flyhighthing all wrapstuffed in snot, not real wrapstuff! Petalwing make joke!” and gleefully went back to building a nest in Cutter’s hair.
Pike was beginning to get downright strange. Not only was he drunk, mad, and punch-drunk, but he was beginning to laugh hysterically at the slightest thing. His face contorted into a maniacal grin, the lower half of his face almost turning purple while his forehead started to go pale. He rubbed Dreamberry pie in Drub’s face, perhaps a little too hard to be considered jesterly. She’d be digging seeds out of her sinuses for the next three moons. He received a large green hand across his own face as a present in turn for his gift of pie.
Skywise was literally bouncing off the walls trying to get ahold of the squirrel. There were few if any that could have recounted how many times he’d looped around the room, but he swore that each lap would be the last. The squirrel finally made a mistake, however, when it’s path interected that of Petalwing’s as the preserver fought to construct a new dwelling atop the Kinseeker’s head. Cutter, of course, was flailing wildly at the spitting creature and was in mid-backhand about the time the squirrel slammed into Petalwing.
He missed the preserver, but not the star-gazer. Skywise slammed into him as his hand slammed into Skywise’s face. This would have provided King Picknose with dinner entertainment in other situations, as a large pile of Wolfrider and a small pile of other creatures writhed at the foot of his throne, but as he slumped in his seat all it did was make him cry.
Pike was in tears as well, and finally passed out from laughing too hard. Drub kindly tried to rouse him with a heel across the jaw, but it had little effect other than to cushion her foot from the stone floor. Leetah and her counterpart were still arguing in their own dialect over who would heal Kureel, though at this point there was little need for an exact translation of their dialog. Though Slap-fu was still the primary communication, they had escalated into that hairiest of correspondences: Jumble-tress. Though a blow would pelt one healer or other occasionally, the ‘mane’ goal seemed to be to forcibly straighten the other’s hair, or otherwise muss the other’s hairdo from its normal appearance.
Petalwing was now angry. The fur-soft nut-saver had crumpled one of his wings (again), and Petalwing didn’t like that sort of nasty-bad. Two minute lips puckered, ready to spit…
The squirrel was able to kick Petalwing in the chest, however, and knock it down. A quick roll and the squirrel was now on top, stomping for all it was worth. Skywise attempted to extradite himself from his tangle with Cutter and reached for the rodent, but the squirrel leaped off of the chest of the now frumpy Petalwing. While reaching, Skywise managed to shove a knee into Cutter’s bad side, causing him to flinch, which sent Skywise falling onto Petalwing.
Skywise rights himself into a sitting position as Petalwing flew off to assail the squirrel, while the wincing Cutter stood and leaned over to chide him with a “Good one, Troll Lover!”
Skywise replied with an elbow to Cutter’s groin, to which Cutter returned with a good bop on Skywise’s head. Skywise flipped back around and grappled Cutter back to the ground, providing Picknose with a repeat performance of the earlier dinner-show.
Picknose groaned, then muttered to Oddbit rhetorically, “Why do I never get ANY respect?"
"I'll always respect you, as long as you respect my never ending desire for pretty things!" She replied, fluttering her eyelids innocently at him.
“Bah!” he exclaimed incredulously, moments before the rest of the Dreamberry pie slammed into his warty nose, cutting off whatever else he might have had to say.