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September 2007 Grab-Bag Writings & Art

krwordgazer

Ok, here are the elements for September:

A sending (of any kind) that goes unanswered
Autumn's first frost
First brush of (romantic) love
An insect or insects
Something that does not go according to plan
Something worn on the head: a hat, headband, etc.

Reiteration of the rules: Writings and art must be related in some way to Elfquest, but may or may not follow the canon. (They can also be original-character, alternate-universe, what-if, etc.)

Writings must contain all six elements within the story or poem. Art may contain all six elements, or may be an illustration of one of the stories or poems.

And I'll just reiterate the general rule: If a work is beyond a PG-13 rating, it should be kept off-site with a link posted here, and a maturity warning.

Have fun! :D

asinas

I have somewhat of an idea already, but I need to pick which story to go with (I have two ideas that are both very similar.) Ill start either tonight or tomorrow!

LadyArill

Dusk was gathering over the small grove. Deir sat on a large gray stone and watched as the golden haired Gibra collected the small, capped nuts that had been deemed edible. He watched, seemingly transfixed, as her slender form bent over to collect another nut from the slightly frosty ground. But it was not her body that transfixed Deir so...it was her voice. Gibra was [i:d514688f6d]singing[/i:d514688f6d] as she worked! As if she were content and safe instead of stranded on a hostile, alien world!


"How do you do that?" he asked quietly, his blue eyes still trained on the blonde woman before him. Gibra looked up momentarily to raise a fair eyebrow at him, a little smile tugging at her mouth.

"Why, it is easy, Deir! See, you just bend your back and extend your hand towards the capnut..." she teased. Deir scowled playfully at his friend and rolled his eyes.

"That's not what I meant and you know it, Gibra!"
She looked at him, both brows now raised above her lovely gray eyes now.
"Then what [i:d514688f6d]did[/i:d514688f6d] you mean, then?" she asked dryly.
"I guess I meant to say how [i:d514688f6d]can[/i:d514688f6d] you do it." Deir murmured, almost to himself. He fell silent, lost in some random thought.
"You are possibly one of the most incoherent beings I've ever met! How can I do [i:d514688f6d]what[/i:d514688f6d]?!" Gibra demanded in an exasperated tone. Deir started from his pondering and blinked up at Gibra, his quiver of arrows slipping from his shoulder.

"Oh! Yes...I meant to ask...how can you just sing while you work? We're trapped on this wretched planet with little hope of escape and with a bunch of murderous creatures after our hides! I can't fathom how you find the good cheer to voice a song!" he explained, pushing his brown hair from his eyes. Gibra stared at him a moment, then sidled over to sit beside him on the rock, the little half full basket of capnuts swinging from her hands.

"Interesting question." she observed.
"Thank you, I suppose."
"To answer said interesting question, Deir...I feel that things are bad enough what with our failed expedition and our current predicament... I do not really need to wallow in misery and gloom. Despairing every moment of every day is not going to help us live. Song, at least, keeps our spirits light. As long as there is still a little hope for escape and as long as we are alive and surviving, I shall sing and hum and dance with all my heart." she said quietly.

The duo sat together in silence for a few moments as Deir took in his friend's words. From the brush, he could hear the crickets starting their evening song. [i:d514688f6d]Creet creet creet[/i:d514688f6d]...

The hunter finally smiled and covered Gibra's hand with his own, squeezing gently.

"A very wise thing to think and do, my friend. If only Haken could have seen that." he sighed. Gibra, smiling sweetly, turned those luminous gray orbs upon him...

[i:d514688f6d]//Deir!//[/i:d514688f6d]
[i:d514688f6d]//Gibra?![/i:d514688f6d]

Electricity seemed to crackle through the air between the two Elves. All that was the creature called Gibra was pull forth and swept into Deir, even as his own essence was drained into the wide eyed woman before him. He [i:d514688f6d]knew[/i:d514688f6d] her, and she knew [i:d514688f6d]him[/i:d514688f6d] and...oh, she was the most beautiful creature on this world of two moons! As long as there was Gibra and her wonderful voice, nothing in the entire Universe could be wrong or unjust!

As if in a daze, Deir reached out and cupped Gibra's lovely, moon pale face in his hands, staring into those amazing silver eyes as if they held the secrets of anything and everything. So enraptured was the hunter, he almost didn't feel Gibra's warm hands touching his face and running through his hair. But he did, and it felt as if her soft skin had ignited a wildfire in his blood. He [i:d514688f6d]needed[/i:d514688f6d] her like a plant needed light and rain...

"Deir...Deir...you complete me! This was what Sefra and Timmain were speaking of...the recognition and union of two souls to bring life to a third!" Gibra whispered, her voice tremulous. Deir leaned forward and pressed his brow to hers, his arms going about her waist.

"Yes...yes, my Gibra...a union of souls. We are two halves of a whole..." he breathed. A sending from Kaslen tickled at the back of his mind. He brushed it away. He had more important things to worry about right now...

Gently, uncertainly, Deir pulled Gibra from the rock, into the soft grass. Her hand met his cheek and then traveled up to pull his headband away. Their uncertainty, their inexperience soon fell away under the rushing flood of desire, the insistence of need.

The joining was clumsy and awkward and strange...but the pleasure, the satisfaction, the new life safely nestled in Gibra's womb proved, without a doubt, that their people had chosen [i:d514688f6d]right[/i:d514688f6d], had chosen [i:d514688f6d]well[/i:d514688f6d] when they had decided upon Life.
0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
So now Gibra and Deir are at my house and Haken's paranoid because he thinks they're going to drink all the coffee while he's not looking. Cuminor can't stop laughing, Voll's overjoyed and Winnowill is quietly amused. Such is my life.

I go back to drukkin' school tomorrow. Weep for me, friends. Weep for me.

manga

*laughs and hugs for Lady Arill* Getting a bit crowded in there, is it?

I really like this story. Good depictions of the elves' characters and such a sweet, true conclusion! :)

asinas

Wow! Tymber I can't wait for the next part! Lady Arill, that kept me so interested up until that last word, it was simple and beautiful, yet it painted a complete picture. I love both of them! I might be a bit longer on my own. I finally got the computer for the first time in a while and decided on who I'll use. (Doeskin's grandparents!)

asinas

RoseEye smiled softly as she began to work the dried grasses together. The end result -should- be a basket, but more then likely it would end up like her last attempts. She was learning to be a weaver, to make baskets and blankets that her people would need. Things they could trade for other goods. Her long soft snow-colored hair was pulled back in a short braid, and her sharp rose-red eyes were squinted in concentration as she worked carefully. That night she would put up her materials, and take up her weapon in hand to hunt for the tribe's wealth and need. Until then though, the girl would be under the tutelage of her elders as she frowned straining to make a somewhat decent basket. Her attempts came to nothing. The basket fell apart in her hands much to her embarrassment.

A pair of soft blue eyes were staring down at her. His own hair was a dusty shade of her own, though they were not related. Blue eyes stared into red, as the boy grinned widely. RoseEye glared at the boy before huffing and throwing her dried grass at him in frustration. "You made it fall apart!" The boy jumped to his feet and leaped away from the flying grass pieces before flashing her a large grin. She shot him a glare that would freeze most of the older boys and men of their village, including his father the chief. The boy was ColdLake, second son of the chief, and a hunter like herself.

She jumped up and pounced at her age-mate. He was always there whenever she felt bad, and seemed to make things worse for her. -Always- there whenever she wanted to be alone because she was upset, and -ALWAYS- with that stupid grin on his face! She didn't care who his father was she was going to give him a lump! Alas that was not the case. He stepped to the side as she took to the air and twisted catching the smaller elf by the waist. He was a few seasons older then her, but still close to her age. Setting her on her feet, he tapped her nose before turning and running away. This infuriated her more then ever! Growling despite herself she took off running after him.

Chasing him she didn't notice how far away from the village they had run, nor how deep into the forest. Finally she caught up to him when he had stopped to catch his bearings. He was looking around at the tall trees and frowning. Neither of the young elves had the keen animal senses that those in the village with wolf blood did, nor could they shape the trees to help them lead their way back home. They were lost, alone, and it was near night. RoseEye frowned and turned towards ColdLake and huffed out her chest. "Why did we come here? Take me home!" ColdLake turned towards her and frowned before turning away. Walking over to a tree he sat down and crossed his arms with a sigh. "I...I don't know the way. I haven't been this far before."

Shock took over. He wasn't smiling, grinning, or teasing her like always. This was more frightening then when the ocean waves, swelled from storms, crashed against the cliffs. Even more so then when swimming and a sharp toothed big-fish swam around you! She quieted her demands and walked over sitting besides him. Pulling her legs under herself she settled against him. "Mother says that if I ever get lost...to sit still and she will find me." ColdLake nodded lightly and pulled her against him. She blushed as she rested her head on his chest. For once she noticed that her age-mate was growing muscles that she could feel under his thin shirt. She could hear his heart beat thumping against his chest. Gently she rested her hand on his chest as a soft red color crept over her face. Looking to her, he mistook the blushing for her being cold and pulled her against himself. He could feel her body was slender, that her waist was becoming curvier then when they were small.

He took a deep gulp and looked away trying to get his mind off the changes that she was undergoing. "Why...Why don't we send to father?" She looked up to him and nodded softly before closing her eyes. Together Their minds began to mingle as it was pushed from them, sent out in desperation and calling to his father. They filled it with the fear they felt, and the cold that invaded their bones. The two held tightly, clinging to one another like small frightened animals. They put all they could into sending to his father. RoseEye wasn't very strong at sending, not as strong as he was and soon was worn out. She shivered and curled against him as she fell asleep.

He held her closer, pulling her into his lap to keep her warm. The leaves were already turning from healthy green to the color of Berryfur's orange-yellow eyes. He continues to send, to call for his father as he shivered, now cold and hungry as well as frightened. Nuzzling his friend's neck he sighed against her cheek, trying to keep her warm with her body and his breath. She was smaller then him, and younger. He felt he needed to protect her, but couldn't quiet place why he had this feeling. He didn't feel this way with other girls. Only around her did his heart beat fast, and only she was on his mind. Around her he couldn't help but smile and show off, much the way his older brother CloudStream was around Berryfur. It wouldn't be long before he too fell asleep, never getting a reply from his father.


They awoke shivering, RoseEye was awake first. He woke up after her when he felt her small movements. Her hair glistened in the morning light. Night dew had turned into frost, and her hair in it's white splendor had caught the frozen moisture. If he wasn't so cold he would of marveled in it's beauty. She buried her face in his chest shivering and nuzzled against him before climbing out of his lap and rubbing her arms. Looking around she saw the trees, ferns, and all things growing covered in a thin layer of ice. Frost had finally come to their world, catching two cubs by surprise. ColdLake stood and rubbed her shoulders softly.

"I..I'm sorry RoseEye..." She tilted her head looking up to him confused, before she could ask him why he held her close to him and nuzzled her cheek. "I just wanted to go into the forest to be alone with you for a little while..Thats why i made you chase me.." She twisted around in his arms and wrapped her arms around his shoulders. She could feel his heart beating and it made her blush deeply again, Pulling away from him she looked around with a sigh. "Don't worry about that for now. You can make up for it later..Lets go home!"

He shook his head softly" But..which way is it?" It was at this moment that they heard the crunch of footsteps on the frost, turning around they both saw a boy who was at least five seasons older then the two of them. He had blond hair that reached his shoulders and the same blue eyes as ColdLake. Behind him stood a brown Haired girl with Orange-yellow eyes. Both of which looked relieved as they saw the other two. Berryfur ran over and wrapped her arms around the other children. She was four seasons older then ColdLake, and acted very much like a sister to him. She was the best tracker in the whole village despite her young age. CloudStream stood back before he eyed his brother, then looked to RoseEye before giving his brother a all-to-knowing wink. Walking over he ruffled his brother's hair and scooped the smallest elf onto his back to piggyback her. He walked ahead of Berryfur and ColdLake carrying RoseEye as he followed their tracks home.

ColdLake and Berryfur hung back some as the girl grinned at her 'brother'. "...I guess the plan to get her alone failed?" ColdLake sheepishly looked up to her. She was his mentor in wooing his crush. Berryfur winked at him before smiling a bit. "I don't think so. Did you two fight while you were out here?" He shook his head and then seemed confused as she smirked. "Try something else then, why not take her to the forest near the village to look for firebugs and then give her a gift?" ColdLake pouted lightly as he looked ahead towards the other two. "the firebugs are sleeping the near-cold away now. I can't take her to see those."

Berryfur winked at him and pulled out a small pouch. Holding it up she opened it and out crawled a small insect, it's rear end was glowing a bright angry red which indeed did look like fire, It seemed to be a small variation of a firefly, a breed that slept away fall and winter to return in spring and summer." I thought you knew better then that? Some stick around after the first almost white-cold, still eating before the long sleep." He looked in wonder as she put the small bug back into her pouch and handed it to him. "But..what for a gift sister?" She shook her head a little. "Figure it out."


RoseEye had been called out to the edge of the forest near the village. In fact to the river bend near their home. It followed the cliff and gushed over in a waterfall, which formed a small stream towards the ocean. But she was sitting near a shallow pool like he had said to. It was just before dark when he appeared, in his hands was a small bundle. ColdLake's face was bright red as he handed it over to her. Blinking a little she began to unwrap it. Inside was a bunch of hair ribbons. He coughed a little and turned away "Its...because you always have your hair up. I thought you might like it." She blinked again and giggled. reaching in she pulled out a brown one and quickly used it to tie up her hair. Turning back to her he had that grin on his face, that same grin that just the morning before had irritated her, she now found so strangely appealing. Sitting besides her he pulled her close and pointed as the forest floor around them lit up with little red lights as the night grew dark. Again they would fall asleep together, but this time their parents would be close enough to find them and take them home before it had frosted.


Notes:
1)RoseEye and ColdLake do grow up and become life mates, they have two children and become the grandparents of 3
2)CloudStream becomes the next chief, He and Berryfur become life mated and parents of two children as well. They become the grandparents of five.
3)RoseEye uses a scythe as she hunts, traded from the local humans that her village trades with, Her son Morningshade refuses to use her weapon after she passes on but it is given instead to Rainfall
4)ColdLake Uses a Bow and Arrow while hunting, after he passes on his daughter Starwing takes his bow.
5)CloudStream and Berryfur's son, eventually becomes the mate of ColdLake and RoseEye's daughter Starwing after the death of his first mate Fawnpelt. This was due to recognition where as he loved Fawnpelt.
6) Because they had such close contact with humans, when a new disease broke out among the humans it affected the Elf village. Among those who died Fawnpelt (Mother of Raingiver), RoseEye, and Berryfur. These were the first affected and the ones who influenced Morningshade to learn the human medicines to try and cure the illness,
7) It was through the many deaths that recognition forced many births to take place, as well as affecting the fact that two healers would now be born into the needing tribe. Morningshade's Own daughter Doeskin would become a healer, as well as Berryfur and Cloudstream's Granddaughter Raingiver.

asinas

Wow...I didn't think I'd have someone that interested in the history...Yes the notes are things that I plan to write stories about. Each bit will be revealed in detail throughout the stories I write, and I try to explain the area they live in to the best that I can. (As it is I don't even have the full village fleshed out. Just those related to Doeskin and Raingiver. As far as I know, Bunny only has a few elves fleshed out that I need to get the biographies on to work into the stories. )

I like to give unnatural eye color to characters sometime, it gives them a feel of "I am different from others like me." when you look at them. (Doeskin has kinda rare, but still natural eyes, their simply grey with a blue hint.)

This story takes place when RoseEye is about 13 in elf years, and ColdLake is about 14, Berryfur is about 16, and CloudStream would be 17-18. Yes, there will be more stories about them. I just need the motivation/inspiration. I hope that cleared up everything? Sorry to ramble on like this.

asinas

Wow, hehe okay. Do you have the link to my other stories? (I started off the stories for the village with doeskin. I intend to do one for each (or most of) the elves in the village, the next series will be Jivuh after I finish Doeskin's. (the village...basically is a mixture of every kind of elf you can think of that is in the canon story. Then add in everything else.)

SnowWren

Tymber, Asinas, and Arill--You're a tough crowd to follow! I will have to see if something comes to mind soon... as I said in the "Circles" thread... the elves ran off w/ my inspiration!

asinas

Tymber and Arill write things that make you want to not stop until you reach the very end. Even then your wanting more. The same with your own SnowWren, there are many writers here that I love to see the work they put out, you are three of them.

LadyArill

Asinas, thank you so much! (Hugs)

I like your tales as well...you have a great eye for detail and character individuality! I liked the bit when ColdLake gave RoseEye those hair ribbons. It fills me with teenaged romantic glee.

And Elves and Humans living in villages close to each other? With a GOOD relationship?! Haken's gone into cardiac arrest, I think...(Pokes Haken, gets blasted by Winnowill) Ouch!

Tymber, Deir and Gibra are Voll's parents...

asinas

I can't wait to see what will come out of it. *Hugs Arill back with a giggle* The local humans and elves have fostered a friendship, but the humans who come in ships to visit the local humans..they are another story. I have more from those four to come sometime too. Berryfur and Cloudstream need their side told, to show they are more then just a big brother, and a source of advice.

JadeOwl

She and Takei were best friends.

It didn't matter to her that his nose didn't work so well, or that his ears were not so pointy, or that his eyes were too small. Even his extra finger was just a weird little defect. It made him all the more charming to her, and she loved him completely and totally, as only a child can.

The Big Ones, when they came, and found her, and made her warm again after all the cold, the big ones like her, they tried to take her away from him. But his too-small eyes would well up with tears, and she promised, over and over, that she would be back.

It wasn't a true promise, because she'd only said it with her voice. That was alright, right? He couldn't have heard a true promise...she'd tried and tried, but his ears were too closed to her.

She'd kept it, anyway, true or not. She's stayed awake during the sleeping-times, when the Red Eye was hot and the plains stirred with winds, and tiny little shiny-backed creatures scampered everywhere. She'd stayed awake until her eyes hurt from being open, and then she'd crawled away among the Big Ones' snores to be with Takei. They played their secret games among the grasses, and laughed at the little scurrying creatures, but never too loud, never too laughing, in case they woke the Big Ones.

And the the winds began to blow across the plains all the time, during Waking Times, too, and the smells they brought were of cold and ice and cruelty. And one night Whisper woke to find the grasses around her stiff, and brittle, and shining in the faint light of the Yellow Eyes.

And the next time she crawled away with hurting eyes, there was no Takei.

She sat in the sight of the Red Eye and cried, and cried, her hurting eyes just hurting more from the wetness and the salt, and the next night when the Big Ones found her she couldn't say why she cried, but they saw the tracks all around, and they saw the remains of the campfire, and they whispered to one another about the Tall Ones, the Tall Ones having finally taken that nuisance of a boy away, and Whisper wnated to shout and yell and scream at them that Takei was not a nuisance but a wonder, a charm, her friend -

But her throat hurt even more than her eyes, and all that came out was a sad little whisper of a name, a nonsense word, that meant nothing anymore...

Meant nothing at all, until the grasses had been brittle seven times over, and Whisper's hair had grown long and smooth and dark and blew in the wind behind her, and her eyes had a deep green sadness in them which all who saw found strangely alluring and beautiful beyond compare. But her voice was still hidden, still lost in those days of childhood. The Big Ones found her odd yet fascinating, and put down her reticence to speak or send to the fact she had grown up alone, without any influence from those of her own kind.

It meant nothing at all until the Tall Ones came back.

Takei had grown tall and beautiful, too. Whisper noticed this as soon as she saw him. His hair, too, was long and dark, but he kept it back from his face with a band of elk-hide. In his hand he carried a long spear, and a bow was strapped across his back.

He stopped in their old meeting place and looked around, holding a finger to his perfect lips in a gesture for silence. Oh, how that extra finger seemed so right on him, so fitting, now, that she bemoaned it's lack in her own slender hands.

She would go to him, Whisper decided, and show him how tall she was, and how green her eyes, and they would talk and laugh together once more, though perhaps their games would be different, perhaps he would hold her in his arms and press those perfect lips to her face...

And it seemed he wanted the same thing, for he knelt in the moss and made their old signal, the chittering call like that of the shiny-backed creatures they had once played with.

Unable to contain her urge to enact her plan, she threw herself from her perch on the boulder without hesitation, pelting towards him at full speed. And indeed, Takei opened his arms to her with a cry of joy. So focused was Whisper on her tall, beautiful friend that she missed the expressions on the other Tall Ones' faces.

Perhaps if she had seen them, she would have had more wariness in her heart, more caution in her mind. But as it was she trembled with joy as Takei gathered her to him, and only puzzlement crossed her face at his whisper in her ear.

"I'm sorry..."

And then puzzlement turned to pained surprise, and she looked up to see Takei's too-small eyes again fill with tears, and she caught sight of the slim rope leading from around his neck to the other hunters, and her mouth opened.

"Takei...."

Again those syllables passed her lips. But there was a love and a forgiveness unmistakable in them. And they meant all the world to the too-small ears that heard them.

****************

Gah. :?

asinas

Gah? What Gah? I liked it! Its so sad...but so beautiful...

LadyArill

So, so sad...yet so, so well written...

SnowWren

I don't know if this is finished yet... but here's my start:

[b:67c898bdf3]Speculation[/b:67c898bdf3]

The sending goes unanswered. He pounds the ground with his fist, angry that she is still ignoring him. The frost on the ground bites his hand with cold, reminding him that the season of colors is upon them, and telling him that winter will be hard this year. **Answer me!** he sends again, his mind voice a demand filled with fear and anxiety. It was not supposed to happen this way.

The only answer he receives is in the form of cricket song. He sighs. [i:67c898bdf3]Oh, what a mess I’ve made of it all[/i:67c898bdf3]. Shale sits back, tears pricking his eyes. [i:67c898bdf3]I thought she would understand![/i:67c898bdf3] He’d stolen her headband, and he’d hidden it in a small clearing near the holt. It was a place they both knew of”“one where the adults went when they wanted to be “alone.”

He’d seen Eyes High changing. She’d been growing and developing. Now she was beautiful, and he longed to join with her. He’d showered attention on her, and she had seemed responsive. So... he’d lured her to this place. And when he’d shared his intentions, she had fled. And now... she wouldn’t even respond to his sendings.




Eyes High had not gone as far as Shale assumed. She had gone out of sight and then, she had climbed to the top of a nearby tree. Sitting among the topmost branches, she enjoyed the flicker of the stars. No one in her tribe seemed to understand that about her”“why her eyes were always up toward the stars and the sky. Everyone else seemed to look down. She had thought Shale understood”“she thought he was teasing her and playing with her... and she’d thought he would know that she needed to see the stars in order to really be happy.

[i:67c898bdf3]He wanted to join with me! There, in the forest, beneath a cover so thick that the sky is invisible. NO! I will not join with any elf out of the sight of the stars! I won’t![/i:67c898bdf3] Her romantic notion about joining under the stars was a secret she had kept hidden from all others. She chided herself. [i:67c898bdf3]How could he have known? Why would I expect him to know?[/i:67c898bdf3] Shale had never seemed interested in her, so she’d never really felt a need to share herself with him. When he’d begun looking at her differently, though, she had hoped that he would see that part of her that needed the sky.

His sendings intruded on her thoughts. She could feel his confusion, his surprise, his anger, and his fear for her safety. She smiled, and she did not respond. [i:67c898bdf3]You will find me, or you will not join with me.[/i:67c898bdf3] She waited.




Knowing that she had to be ignoring him made him want to leave her out there. But he knew that Bearclaw would have his hide if he left her out there alone. [i:67c898bdf3]Why do I go to such trouble for a roll in the hey?[/i:67c898bdf3] He thought of other adventures, of mishaps that had happened with others. He chuckled at the thought of Brownberry, face down in the mud, and at the thought of Joyleaf buried in snow. [i:67c898bdf3]How might this mishap end?[/i:67c898bdf3] he wondered.

A whine from his wolf friend told him that humans were near. His sending became urgent. **Eyes High”“humans! Where [i:67c898bdf3]are[/i:67c898bdf3] you?**



**Where any elf with sense would expect.** she responded, and he saw the image of the stars, and he knew that she had gone to the treetops. He chided himself for not thinking of it, and inwardly he laughed. [i:67c898bdf3]She went the one place I could have expected, but definitely would not have followed! She knows I don’t particularly like heights.[/i:67c898bdf3]

He found the base of the tree and began climbing. His wolf-friend, he knew, would take care of himself.

asinas

*Takes a deep breath* OMGSHALE! Wow! You had to pick one of my favorites didn't you? I loved it! Her need for the stars, and his want of her. That was...was...so wonderful! You made me sooo happy to read that! Eyes High was such a playful little thing wasn't she?

SnowWren

Tymber--you liked it? (Hoping that you weren't let down by the ending... which, by the way, was the quickest ending I've ever written--and I have been uncertain about it).

Asinas--I'm glad that you enjoyed it:) I totally didn't sit down expecting to write about Shale and Eyes High... and then, all of a sudden, there they were!

Skywise_Luver_007

[color=darkred:b9c94818af]You all write so well... I don't think I've read any stories with so much passion to back them up... maybe one of these days I'll get brave and try to write for these grab-bag thingies...[/color:b9c94818af]

Skywise_Luver_007

[quote:67abed0b47="Tymber"][quote:67abed0b47="Skywise_Luver_007"][color=darkred:67abed0b47]You all write so well... I don't think I've read any stories with so much passion to back them up... maybe one of these days I'll get brave and try to write for these grab-bag thingies...[/color:67abed0b47][/quote:67abed0b47]

You should! There's nothing wrong with writing, good or bad! Even "bad" you're going to get suggestions that can only improve! I feel fairly confident in my writing, and yet get tips all the time! And I love it! Never take it as anything personal![/quote:67abed0b47]

[color=darkred:67abed0b47]Yeah... I'm not that brave yet... but I think I'll give them a shot... from the beginning though... lol...[/color:67abed0b47]

Nightsea

[img:253e18fd81]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v477/Night_sea/loveinthegrass.jpg[/img:253e18fd81]

The heat from her body had faded and now Wyl shivered
as he felt the Leaf Falling Season creeping into
the ground as a light layer of frost.

Laying in tall grass, Strongbow watched his headband
catch the wind and thought how it arched in shapes
like Moonshade.

His new lifemate was sleeping in her old den but she
would soon share one with him. Knowing her soul as
he did, he was not afraid of the change to come. She
completed him and he already felt the force of his
desire for her and the new life she grew to be
increasing every moment.

He was surprised that it could grow after all the
heat and passion he had felt durring the recognition
and the coupling after. He had never expected to
feel such deep admiration for someone aside from
his cheif. But the moment he had met her eyes, had
felt her deep core spirit, he had found in her the
commitment he had always sought.

With Moonshade there was no hesitation, no concern
for the things cut away from the hide, but only her
strong purpose and willpower shaping her being and
her environment like the leathers she made.
Strongbow, like all the Wolfriders,
did not often think about Ifs and Could-have-beens, but even
he felt that things often didn't go as he wished. Moonshade's
certanty that all would be well gave him an order he had not
known he was missing.

He couldn't resist sending her his feeling of gratitude and
joy once again as her soulname rippled within him. **Eyrn,
you are my life**

He gathered his clothing and gently blew on a
small beatle to pursuade it to leave his bow.
The place in the grass had kept their body shapes and he
brushed the stalks back toward the weak sun; then he went to bundle
in the furs to rest until the next moment he could hold her.
He had never expected to feel so kind to all living things,
but then he knew that even with all Moonshade's determination,
some things turned out differently than what you might plan.

*************
A sending (of any kind) that goes unanswered
Autumn's first frost
First brush of love (meaning romantic love, I assume)
An insect or insects
Something that does not go according to plan
Something worn on the head: a hat, headband, etc.
******************

:)
--Nightsea

krwordgazer

Wow, so many offerings this month! I had a lot to read!

Tymber, what a cliff-hanger you ended on that time, you rascal! Good thing it's almost October, so we'll get the next installment soon!

Arill, I love that story of the High Ones! You make it very believable that Recognition and joining are new to them, and I like the way you show them relating to their new world.

Asinas, your characters are well-depicted, and the action is very believable. I like the fireflies!

Jade Owl, what can I say? That was a fantastic story, so intense, so heart-wrenching. I loved the spare writing style!

Snow Wren, it's quite believable that Eyes-High and Shale might have gotten together in just that way. Good use of the present tense; it makes the scene very gripping. I'm looking forward to the conclusion!

Nightsea, I just love Strongbow and Moonshade, and I love that tender cameo of just after their Recognition. Good use of the elements, and the art is beautiful!

krwordgazer

Sorry for the double post, but my offering is fairly long, so I thought I'd give it it's own section.

This story was also posted in the "Crack Challenges" thread, as it meets both the grab-bag challenge and that one. It's a what-if story, which is something I seldom do-- but I sometimes like to see how one tiny shift in the plot can result in an entirely different ending from the canon. :)

So here is:

[size=18:361d40150e][color=red:361d40150e]THE RESCUE[/color:361d40150e][/size:361d40150e]

[i:361d40150e]One slip of a troll tongue, one tiny different choice by an elf, and it might have turned out like this. . . [/i:361d40150e]

Part 1.

“What did you say?!”

Winnowill stared at the troll Smelt, whom she had been feeding and tending for an eight of days. Her conscience was pricking her a little about her growing dependence on his need for her. Lately she had become more and more skilled at quelling troublesome twinges of this sort, and going on with her purpose--

But today, almost unconsciously, she found herself choosing to see and hear this troll, not as an object for her gifts, but as himself. And now, listening at last with more than half her attention, she froze, her eyes widening incredulously. “What did you say?” she repeated.

Smelt turned his eyes away, his lumpy green forehead jutting out under his unkempt hair. “Nothin”˜,” he muttered. “Forget it.”

But forgetting something just because she had been told to was a thing Winnowill would not do. She took Smelt’s face in her hands and turned it towards her. “You said something about a rockshaper. In your troll kingdom.”

“No!” Smelt shook his head emphatically, jolting her hands away. “You’re hearing things, healer. I was just mutterin’ stuff-- to myself. I didn’t mean nothin’.”

Winnowill drew herself up, eyes narrowed. “You will tell me what you did mean, troll, or you will find I can do other things than soothe and mend. Is this elf a prisoner?” She turned her thoughts on him as she spoke, letting him feel a touch of what she could do to him.

Smelt jerked away from her in shock and pain. “Wh-what did you just do?”

“You will find out if you do not tell me all,” she whispered fiercely. “Who is this rockshaper? Why is he in your troll realm? How is he treated?” Her mind played back faces from earliest childhood, faces of elves she had cared about, who had chosen not to follow Voll’s vision to Blue Mountain. Could it be one of them?

“Tell me, troll!” she hissed. Smelt jerked again at another, sharper pain.

“He-he’s been there since before I was born. He’s not like you. He’s little, skinny, bald-- not worth your time.” Smelt shuddered and rubbed his forehead with a bulgy hand.

“No elf would live with trolls of his own free will!” Winnowill glared. “How did he come there? Why?”

Smelt was unwilling to answer, but this time she made the pain exquisite. He gasped, clutching his head, and choked out, “He’s been a p-prisoner since before I was born! I heard he was captured when he was young, way up in the frozen lands. He-he’s nothing to do with you.”

“He is a rockshaper!” she answered. She thought of the male Glider who had formed for her this cave where she was now tending the troll. Most of her people were rockshapers. “I want to know how he is treated in your kingdom!”

If Smelt could have sent, she would have plucked the knowledge directly from his mind-- but slowly she wrung it from him, bit by painful bit. How the rockshaper was kept weak and nearly starved, dressed in rags; how he had paid for past disobedience by losing a finger, an arm, part of a leg. . .

The healer in Winnowill was fully aroused now and filled with disgust and rage. Without releasing Smelt from the grip of her eyes, she sent to the Lord of Blue Mountain.

*Voll!*

There was no response.

*Voll! Voll!*

Winnowill pursed her lips. Lord Voll was often sunk in dreams-- but she had thought he would have responded to a sending from [i:361d40150e]her. [/i:361d40150e] After all, she had been missing for days.

She called the male Glider who had been assisting her, and had him bind Smelt’s arms to his body with thin but unbreakable bands of stone. Then, gripping the troll’s shoulder, Winnowill marched Smelt out of the cave and into the halls of Blue Mountain.


Part 2

Smelt glared morosely around as the black-haired healer propelled him through the halls. Around him floating elves in ridiculous headdresses pulled themselves away from them with little cries of surprise and alarm.

This was not going at all according to plan. He was supposed to sneak into the Mountain, grab a rockshaper, and take him or her back to Greymung. Instead Smelt had sought a way in until he’d grown weak from thirst and hunger, and from the burning of the cursed sun, which no troll should have had to endure as he had--

This whole thing was Greymung’s fault. Promising Smelt treasure and the king’s favor for finding another rockshaper! Well, it wasn’t worth it. Greymung could stew himself in mudwater and maggots for all Smelt cared.

He couldn’t help a gasp as Winnowill took him into a large cavern. An enormous throne stood at the far end, and suspended over it, the bones of one of the unbelievably large birds of prey he’d seen circling the Mountain’s summit. It was far grander than Greymung’s throne room, and Smelt felt a twinge of envy and reluctant admiration.

But the slight figure perched at the top of the throne was hardly imposing. He wore a long, gray robe and a silly little crown shaped like wings, that made Greymung’s golden one look imposing by contrast. Smelt smirked. The elf king was leaning dreamily back, his eyes fixed on the roof of the cave. He hadn’t even noticed their entry. Weak little dreamer, Smelt thought.

“My lord.” Winnowill’s voice echoed in the vast chamber. “My lord!”

“Eh?” The elf lord (not even a king!) started and drew himself into a sitting position. He looked down at Smelt with astonishment. “What is [i:361d40150e]this[/i:361d40150e]?”

“A troll, my lord.” The healer beside him was nothing if not confident-- as if she’d been bringing trolls into the throne room all her life. Smelt couldn’t help another twinge of admiration, this time for the lady. She knew how to get what she wanted by whatever means necessary-- as much as any troll maiden he ever knew.

Those powers of hers, though. . . Smelt shook his head at himself. If only he’d kept his mouth shut in the first place. But she’d never seemed to really be listening to him before. By Greymung’s crown, why had she picked that one moment to actually hear him, just as he’d mumbled something best kept secret? Well, the metal was in the fire now. Nothing to do but see what came of it.

Winnowill’s voice shook a little as she told the elf lord why she had come. Other elves-- Gliders, he’d heard them called-- who were perched in niches around the cave, gave little gasps of shock and anger. But the elf lord, Voll, didn’t just sit and listen. He rose in a swirl of gray robe and floated down from the high throne, ignoring the steps. “Is this true?” He fixed Smelt with an icy stare. Somehow he was much more impressive close up. Those eyes. . .

There didn’t seem any point in answering. But then another stab of pain went through Smelt’s head like a heated dagger. With a groan, Smelt nodded.

Voll’s glance swept around the throne room. “Fetch me the Chosen Eight!” he commanded. And the Gliders’ forms slipped silently from their niches and floated rapidly out. Never had a troll king had his words more swiftly obeyed. Impressed again, Smelt tried not to show it, but stood glaring stonily forward. The stone bands around him were getting uncomfortable.

The elf lord now laid both hands on Winnowill’s shoulders in the empty room, gazing into her eyes. Were they lovers, or did elves have some way of communicating without speech? Or both?

Possibly both. Smelt had seen Winnowill seem to communicate wordlessly before, with her rockshaper helper, but they had never looked at each other like [i:361d40150e]that.[/i:361d40150e]

A moment later the elf lord confirmed both guesses by whispering to the healer, “You went out alone to find the Palace, for me? Oh, my dear one. . .” And the lady came forward into his arms.

Smelt rolled his eyes. He assumed these elves were talking about their lost home, long held by Guttlekraw far away. It seemed the mere mention of the thing could turn elf brains to mush. Smelt began to slide imperceptibly towards the nearest exit.

Next moment, however, seven Gliders burst into the room from every entrance. They landed before Voll and as one, sank to one knee. At the same time other Gliders began to slip quietly in, flitting to the niches and standing against the walls. Voll turned and raised himself to his throne as the room filled. Smelt sighed. No chance to escape now.

Winnowill stood at the foot of the throne and watched as Voll looked down at the seven in front of him. “Where is Eresir?” he demanded.

“Hunting, my lord,” one of the seven said.

“Very well. Oroleed, find him after we are done here, and tell him what I command.”

“Yes, my lord.” Oroleed bowed his head. All seven rose, then, and stood watching Voll respectfully.

Voll turned his glance on Smelt. “Come forward, troll.”

Winnowill glared at Smelt as he hesitated. He wondered if she could still hurt him from a distance. He decided not to find out. Walking forward as Voll had commanded, Smelt stood beside the healer below the throne. The watching Gliders seemed to all draw their breath as one.

And then-- silence. Silence except for murmurs of shock, growing to indignation and then outrage, as the elf lord apparently communicated to the whole lot of them about Greymung’s prisoner. Smelt groaned inwardly. Whatever these powerful elves were going to do, they were going to do it quickly. And they’d have the advantage of surprise. He didn’t think his own people stood a chance.

“Good,” Voll concluded aloud. “I will take Winnowill and this troll on my bond bird. The troll will guide us, whether he so wishes or not, to his home. He will be released when we have accomplished our task. Each of the Eight will take one or two rockshapers, depending on their bond-bird’s strength. No doubt the prisoner can send-- we will contact him, tunnel to him from above, and have him out. If any trolls try to stop us, we will stop them! But I am confident that by tomorrow, this wretched brother of ours will be free!

The crowd lifted their voices in a shout. Smelt grimaced, but couldn’t help feeling a little bit glad. No matter what happened-- though he’d be in disgrace when he got there-- at least he was going home.


Part 3

The forest that would one day hold a Holt called “Goodtree’s Rest” drowsed in the sun. But it was long, long before Goodtree would be born, and these woodlands knew nothing of elves. Trolls it did know, but these peeped through watch-holes in the earth, or ventured above to check their traps for game or to gather berries now and then, leaving the trees to shelter only the furred and feathered things that made them their home.

Into the blue sky over the green woods flapped nine huge, winged shapes. Deer and small animals in the meadows bolted for the cover of the trees as the dark birds of prey circled, their riders seeking a place to land. Little two-legged creatures with multi-colored wings darted around the birds, screaming suggestions. “Is nice meadow-- there! Much room for big flythings!”

“Thank you, Berrybuzz. My Chosen, we will land-- there!”


Deep below, wrapped in darkness, Ekuar turned to lie on his other side. Feeling tiny feet crawling over the one leg the trolls had left whole, he reached down with experienced fingers and plucked the insect off himself, putting it in his mouth. The trolls sometimes pulled the wings off moths and such things that blundered into their domain, and threw them into the cave where they kept him, as food. Ekuar tried to eat them quickly, out of pity for the tiny wounded things, but every now and then he missed one in the dark. . .

He closed his eyes, though this made little difference in the blackness, and began again to drift into dreams. The Palace had been so beautiful, all glistening color and shimmering light. He could almost hear again its myriad voices, silently calling--

Rockshaper. . . Rockshaper. . .

*Rockshaper! I am Voll of the Gliders. Can you receive my sending? Are you able to reply?*

Ekuar sat bolt upright and stared into the blackness. His mind whirled. He hardly knew, anymore, how to take any initiative for himself. Even when Osek had escaped through the Tunnel of Golden Light, Ekuar had been unable to make himself follow.

An elf was sending to him. How? Why? He felt dizzy and a little sick with the jolt of feelings swirling through him-- fear, hope (no, don’t hope!), apprehension--

*Rockshaper! We are here to rescue you! Please answer! Help us locate you!*

The sending, though courteous, was insistent, commanding. Whoever this was, he was accustomed to being obeyed.

Ekuar had long ago become accustomed to obeying.

*H-here,* he faltered. *I am here. . .*

A chorus of sendings answered him. *Thank the High Ones! There he is! We are coming, rockshaper!*

Ekuar sat in the dark and wondered how many elves there were, how they would get to him, and what the trolls were going to do. He hoped feebly that these brave ones would not be captured, too-- though the thought of having companions once more in his loneliness filled him with guilty joy.

Time passed in the endless underground night. Ekuar responded to repeated sendings with, *Yes, I am here. Here. Yes, here.*

Then a movement of air came from the ceiling, as if a tunnel had opened over his head. Ekuar blinked up as dim light poured down through an opening he could now see.

And then shouts rang out above. “What’s this? Elves! What are you doing?!”

Ekuar closed his eyes for a moment as curses and yells came from overhead. The ceiling shook at little as with pounding steps.

And then two slim, tall forms clothed in feather-trimmed black floated down into his cave. Ekuar opened his eyes just in time to see them alight before him. Their eyes, as they looked down on him, were filled with pity and horror.

“Look what they’ve done--” choked the male.

“No time now!” whispered the female. She reached out a slender hand. I am Yeyeen,” she said. “Come.”

Eyes wide, Ekuar reached up with his remaining fingers and touched hers. “Elves,” he breathed. “I-- I cannot believe it.”

The female bent, put her arms around him and lifted him. The male elf rose into the air, ready to float back to the tunnel above. In breathless astonishment Ekuar realized that they meant to carry him out.

“Look to the slave!” rang a shout down the hall. Thudding feet, a bobbing light, burst into Ekuar’s cave. In despair he turned his face into the shoulder of the form that held him. They would all be slaves now. But it had been worth it, just to be touched and held again--

But Ekuar’s rescuers had never been starved, beaten or cowed, and it seemed they had no intention of being captured. As trolls thundered into the room, Ekuar peeked around Yeyeen’s shoulder to see the male elf’s face take on a familiar look of concentration. Bars of rock erupted from the floor, jutting towards the ceiling with the speed of a bird taking flight. The trolls halted with cries of rage as they were effectively caged off from the elves and their overhead escape tunnel.

Lifted in Yeyeen’s arms towards the tunnel, Ekuar could only stare down in amazement at his captors’ faces as they pounded in frustration at the stone bars. A tiny, trembling glee awoke within him. He almost laughed as he heard the crack of troll axes trying to break the bars, for it was too late. He was already rushing towards the round, blue opening above, the male rockshaper just behind him and Yeyeen.

Then the brilliant blue of a sky he had not seen in an eternity stabbed his eyes like swords, and Ekuar cried out at the pain of the daylight he had longed for so hopelessly and so long. His arm over his eyes, he was aware of troll cursing and the ring of blades on the outside of a stone wall he had glimpsed, which seemed to surround the group of elves that ringed him and his rescuers.

“And here he is!” said a crisp, authoritative voice. “Well done, Yeyeen, Laharek! Now, let us get back to the birds!”

Birds?

He was being lifted into the air again, this time in someone else’s arms. Ekuar managed to open his eyes, and saw above him a finely-chiseled male face with wide-set, intelligent eyes and a winged, crown-like headpiece. Tall, dark-clad elves were in the air all around him. Looking down, Ekuar’s streaming eyes caught a glimpse of a single, forlorn-looking troll standing alone within the rock walls they had just left.

The trolls outside the wall bellowed. Small, darting colored shapes were flying in and out among them, spitting some kind of white stuff that caught their weapons, obscured their vision. Ekuar could hear high-pitched shrieking from the little creatures as some of the trolls threw spears.

The elves swooped and dodged, angling away over the trees. “Preservers! To me!” called the crowned one who held Ekuar. Then the colorful things were wheeling around Ekuar, pointing at him with squeals of glee. “Eeee! Highthings saved lost-broken highthing! Highthings watch for sharp stickthings! Highthings be careful!”

Feeling dizzy again, Ekuar closed his eyes. Then a chorus of shrill whistles pierced his ears. He looked up again at the face of the crowned one, who was one of those who had whistled. As if in answer, huge, dark wings blotted out the sun overhead. The elves had spread out in the air, moving in groups of two or three towards each of a flock of enormous birds which were circling above.

“Do not be afraid,” the elf who held him murmured. “These are our bond-birds, come to take us home.”

Us? Home? The words made something prickle behind Ekuar’s eyes. He thought he had forgotten how to cry. . .

He was being settled gently onto a soft, feathery back, still held firmly in the crowned elf’s arms. A musical voice behind both of them made Ekuar jump. “Voll! Oroleed is wounded-- a troll spear in the leg. I must heal him!”

“Of course, Winnowill. As soon as we can find a quiet place to stop a moment.”

Ekuar turned in the circle of Voll’s arms-- and looked upon the most exquisitely beautiful creature he had ever seen, with a mantle of night-dark hair and luminous eyes. Had she been with the other rescuers? If she had, there had been no time for him to see--

She held a slender, white hand out to him over Voll’s shoulder. “And you, rockshaper,” she murmured, just audibly over the wind of their flight, “I will do all I can for you as soon as we are home.”

Home. The tears flowed in earnest now as it began to dawn on Ekuar’s confused mind that he would never be a slave again.

He was free. And they were taking him home.


Part 4.

It gave Winnowill pleasure to oversee the rescued prisoner’s care herself. She saw to it that Ekuar was brought back gently from near-starvation, giving at first just a little mild, soft food, then slowly increasing the amount and variety. She ordered special clothing to be made that would accommodate him as he gained strength, patiently refraining from suggesting limb regrowth before he was strong enough. She let him soak for long periods in the grotto, talking with him quietly as he told his story. Voll would often join them on these occasions, listening compassionately, and offering information on the Gilders and their way of life.

Winnowill found Ekuar gentle, intelligent, insightful-- and remarkably resilient. As he gained strength, his passiveness and timidity vanished, to be replaced with serenity, wry humor, growing self-confidence, and a kind of quiet joy. She could well understand why he had survived in spite of all the trolls could do to break his mind and spirit. But there were times when she didn’t know quite what to make of him.

“I can restore you,” she said to him one day, as they sat together in the chamber that had been prepared for him, adjoining the one she shared with Voll. “I can awaken your scalp to grow hair again. I can shape new limbs. I can remind your body that it has not finished its full growth. You can be what you were meant to be.”

“So generous,” murmured Ekuar. “I am honored, Winnowill. But all that I have lived through is a part of me. I would not deny who I have become.”

Winnowill stared at him, appalled. “You would remain in this-- state?”

The round eyes gazed at her, twinkling. “Does it trouble you?”

She drew herself up. “It should trouble [i:361d40150e]you[/i:361d40150e]!”

He sighed. “What troubles me is that these caves remind me so much of where I was imprisoned. Would I be permitted to do elsewhere in the Mountain, as I have done in this chamber you have given me-- to shape more windows to the sky and the free air? I came to miss the sunlight so much in the troll caves. I do not wish to be long away from it here.”

How could she refuse him this? Winnowill spoke to Voll, and in all the outer chambers of the Mountain, Ekuar indulged his desire for views of the outside. It was only later that Winnowill realized he had diverted her attention from their disagreement over his crippled form. She was not accustomed to being turned aside in this fashion.

She restrained herself and waited a while longer, giving him more time to adjust to his new life before she broached the subject again. And Ekuar grew to be valued by every inhabitant of Blue Mountain, for his wit, his compassion, for the way he saw each one of them with understanding and acceptance. Winnowill found that she too, was growing fond of him, though the fondness was tinged with exasperation at times. . .

The day came when she decided to seek him out again on the subject of his healing. She found him in the aerie, watching the great birds settling into their nests as darkness began to gather outside. The chill of death-sleep was in the air; tonight would likely bring the first frost of the season. How long had it been since she had paid any real attention to the changing seasons? Winnwill shivered a little as she approached the maimed elf. What was important was restoring him, not what the weather was doing. She did not want to admit it to herself, but even more than the need to heal, what was troubling her was the way, without ever actually defying her, Ekuar never seemed to come under her control.

He gave her a quiet, penetrating glance. “You are troubled, lovely healer,” he said softly. “Is your need so very great? Very well then, you may choose something to restore to me. One of my limbs, perhaps?”

Somehow having it granted as a concession like this, took the pleasure out of it. “Not if you do not wish it, rockshaper,” she said between her teeth.

His smile was disarming. “It is hard for you here, with so little to do. As it is for me.”

“For you?” She was honestly surprised. “But you are a rockshaper. All our rockshapers find themselves fully occupied.”

“True.” Ekuar nodded. “But I cannot help wondering--”

They were interrupted at that moment by the sweep of wings as Voll’s bond-bird burst into the aerie, circled and landed in front of them. Voll’s cheerful face smiled at them as he slid down from its back, then turned to remove the harness. “Thank you, my friend,” he murmured to the bird. “Go to your rest now.”

With a squawk the bird hopped away, and Voll turned back to where the other two were watching-- Ekuar with interest, Winnowill with astonishment.

“My lord!” she burst out. “Where were you--”

“I simply went for a ride, my dear.” Voll said reassuringly. “To think. Our new friend has given me much to think on.”

“You mean the Palace?” Winnowill glanced down at Ekuar. “But Ekuar has told us it is completely under the control of trolls more vicious than the ones who imprisoned him.”

“I know.” Voll sobered. “Nonetheless it is hard to shake the breathtaking images he sent us, is it not?”

Winnowill had to agree. The entire Mountain had been astir with scenes of brilliance and luster, of welcoming voices and living light-- scenes passed from Glider to Glider as birds flit from tree to tree.

“But what is weighing on my mind is Ekuar’s tale of his companions, of Mekda still enmeshed in the horror we delivered him from, and of Osek, lost somewhere in the outside world.”

Of Osek Winnowill had hardly thought, but it was true that it was difficult not to think of Mekda. “Voll, I wish Mekda’s release as much as you do,” Winnowill said. “But the dangers are great. From what Ekuar has told us of the trolls who hold the Palace-- their caverns, their weapons, their way of life-- it is a far different matter than his rescue was--”

“But not impossible,” Voll said quietly.

She was taken aback. What had happened to the stubborn, entrenched, inactive dreamer she had known so long? But Voll had been an idealist always. This was not a change, but a return to what her lovemate had been once, long ago. . .

Voll was going on, his voice ringing with purpose. “We can train. We can strategize and prepare. And when we are ready, we can go to the frozen lands and rescue Mekda. We can search this world for Osek, and while we do, we can gather together all the lost children of the High Ones. And then, when the time is right, we can take back the Palace!” He reached for her hand, took it in his. “Blue Mountain was a wonderful vision. But I see now it was too small. The Gliders will follow where we lead-- but I need you with me, Winnowill.” Voll gazed into her eyes, gripping her hand hard. Winnowill bit her lip.

The question was whether she would cling to her control of life within this Mountain, or let go, to follow once more the fire in his eyes.

A two-fingered hand slipped into her other one, and Winnowill looked down into Ekuar’s compassionate eyes. His mind-voice was like a gentle breath, meant for her alone. *There comes a time to face one’s deepest fears and be stronger, or to remain forever enslaved to them. Which will you choose, lovely healer?*

Somehow she didn’t resent this-- not from him, not after all he had lived through. Winnowill stared up into the aerie.

She suddenly knew that if she chose the former, if she chose to resist Voll, to attempt to keep Blue Mountain as it was, she would soon find herself pulled back into causing accidents just to assuage her healer’s hunger. Was that what she wanted? Was it not her self-disgust from this that had caused her to leave in the first place and find Smelt? Was this not why this small, crippled creature was now before her, asking her to continue what she had started, or shrink back again to shame?

Winnowill took a deep breath. Had she not told Voll that this world would one day die, and Blue Mountain with it? Here was a solution-- not the safe, painless, controlled one she had wanted, but--

She exhaled, and met Voll’s eyes. “Yes,” she said softly. “I agree.”

Ekuar let out a noisy breath. Winnowill and Voll looked down to see that his face was wet. “Thank you,” he whispered.

Something stirred within Winnowill. She no longer saw a maimed and crippled former slave. She saw only Ekuar. And the thing that brushed her soul now was . . . love.

Voll’s eyes shone with moisture as he gazed down at the small, wise elf whose coming to Blue Mountain had been like a stone dropping into a hive. From the expression on Voll’s face, Winnowill could see that he felt as she did.

“Ekuar,” Voll said softly, “I wonder. . . If you are feeling quite recovered now, would you like to move into Winnowill’s and my chamber?”

Ekuar smiled. “I would be honored,” he said.


THE END.



[i:361d40150e]Epilogue:

It was several more years before Mekda was rescued, and some of the Gliders were slain in the attempt. But all felt the pull of the Palace, buried beneath the ice though it now was. When they returned to the Mountain, Voll increased the Chosen Eight to sixteen, then twenty-four, and they flew far and wide, searching for Osek and for other children of the High Ones. It was in the time of Goodtree, when the Wolfriders at last settled in one place, that they were found, as the Sun Folk had been years before. And when at last the ice began to recede from the Palace, the remnant of Two-Spear’s tribe joined the Gliders too. Osek’s bones were located in the desert, and all who knew the tale mourned for him-- but in the end, united elves from every corner of the World of Two Moons banded together and took back the Palace, where Timmain joined them The Gliders restored the Palace, and the elves returned to the stars-- except for Mantricker’s tribe, who chose to live on the World of Two Moons in a remote place far from humans, and the Wavedancers, who chose to stay in the sea. The Palace elves returned to visit their world-bound brothers and sisters frequently, and Recognitions took place, until stories of the spirits of wood, air and water entered human legend, and are still being told to this day. [/i:361d40150e]

Nightsea

*spoiler alert for story above*

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I liked your AU version of Eukar being rescued by Voll and Winnie,

krwordgazer.

Interesting twist and it is fun to imagine all the ways their characters

would change and interact.



Also, thanks for your comments on my own attempts this month!



Here's how I imagined a less than evil Winnowill might turn out:





Smile

--Nightsea

JadeOwl

Wordgazer, when you write them, the most extreme of twists seem perfectly natural.

I love this. :heart:

It somehow makes me think of the Gliders as a much more warrior tribe, which I kind of like.

krwordgazer

Thanks, you two! :D Nightsea, I just love that Winnowill. Yes, that's just exactly the way I think she might have been if something like this had helped her turn from the path she was going down. :D

SnowWren

Krwordgazer... I loved the story! V. Well-written! Thank you for doing a "what if!" :)