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September 2009 Grab-Bag Writings and Art

krwordgazer

Here are the elements for September:

*SPLAT!!* (whether it's someone jumping into water, a sudden downpour or whatever the imagination can come up with!)
Balance
A New Revelation (this can be about something they have, something they thought they knew, something they find, etc)
Nagging
A First Word - whether it's the first word someone says in the story, or someone's first word in another language/tongue
Trying to Change Habits: The struggle to break a bad habit, or trying to start (and stick with) a good one.

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.

Looking forward to seeing what folks come up with!

RedheadEmber

Right... you guys wanted shorter and more cryptic... well... shorter it is... you'll have to be the judges about the cryptic part! :D

Breaking the habit

I tried so hard
Breaking my habit

How could a child
Nagging to play
Possibly have turned into
What I have become?

*SPLAT*
It went down
Down
Down
Down

Perfectly balanced
Of fire and ice
She took the best of us both
The worst of neither of us

Now here a wander
Wondering why
First words long ago
Were those of contempt

Embala

Yeah - Back to the roots? Just short enough, Redhead Wink ... and cryptic enough to give me something to think about.
... yes ... this means I like it ...

Have to ask:
[quote:5232b2475e]... Now here a wander [/quote:5232b2475e]A typo? Or a meaning I don't understand?

Nightsea

SPLAT
Balance
A New Revelation
Nagging
A First Word
Trying to Change Habits

Sister Mary Catherine scowled down at the comic book hidden
just under her habit. She had tried to change her behavior;
tried to give up reading these fantastic stories in favor
of rereading scripture...but it just wasn't working.

Now in her head she could hear Mother Superior nagging,
berating that all new revelations about the delicate
balance of God's relationship to oneself were to be
found in the first words of the bible read each day.

Face burning, she heard a SPLAT as the Elfquest
graphic novel fell into the holy water. Her
prayer as she left the church was that Wendy
and Richard Pini would write some new stories after
her lenten repentance was over. Some things you
just could not live without!

Hehehehe,
--Nightsea

Embala

That was great fun, Nightsea! :clap:

manga

Ember's poem is Rayek but I don't follow all the verses.

Embala

Hhhmmmm .... that makes sense. Maybe more than my first idea - Kahvi ... it's the *SPLAT* part which made me think of her - and still does.

Couldn't classify the "nagging child" tho - typical Rayek when I think about it now. First words of of contempt... by Venka? Don't remember it this way ...

Different opinions ... multiple interpretations ... TYPICAL Redhead Wink

manga

I think Redhead is referring to Rayek's own first words... but we don't know what they are, so far as I know. I can't quite place the "splat," either. I keep thinking of his snowball altercation with Ember.

RedheadEmber

Nightsea!!! That was hilarious Grin Grin the first ever cross-over grab bag fanfic... (I asume it's from the Sister's Act movie)



And yes... it is about Rayek... :D And... I can just say; neither of you is right about the *SPLAT* part or the first words part... but I ain't gonna tell ya :twisted:

manga

Can we get a hint, Ember? :)

Cleopatra

Redhead Ember, I liked your poem and you relly get me wonder about with Rayek with the splat and the first word. :?


Nightsea, this was really cool. Grin You described it very well.

faeriegirl

first words from/to the wolfriders?
...no idea about the splat, though...

anyways, love the contributions so far!

RedheadEmber

Quote:
manga

Can we get a hint, Ember? :)



No! :twisted: If I did I wouldn't be Nastybad-Cryptic Poemthing would I?

















Aaaaand... faeriegirl is right about the first words part... (I was thinking to but of course; could've been from as well!)

faeriegirl

well I myself was more leaning towards 'to' too, but it could've been 'from' too! ;)

Embala

Quote:
Redhead Ember

... neither of you is right about the *SPLAT* part or the first words part... but I ain't gonna tell ya :twisted:


Then you won't get a proper collage! :P

SPLAT can mean evererything from literally the Palace by crashlanding either in the sea or on Djunsland to figuratively Rayek's ego by realizing his failure ... and many other scenes between.
And words of contempt are more than enough - and many may be first words depending on the point of view.

... TOO many choices

faeriegirl

awww... but your collages are so great! will you make one if you find out what the first words were about? ;)










just read back a couple of posts, then ;)

RedheadEmber

Quote:
Embala

SPLAT can mean evererything from literally the Palace by crashlanding either in the sea or on Djunsland




You're onto something there... Wink

faeriegirl

the Palace sinking after reappearing?!?!?!?!

Nightsea

Nope, just a generic nun name.
Sister Act's character for Whoopi was named
Sister Mary Clarence. But if you like to imagine her as the character
in my story, go right ahead. :)

I imagine the poem is Rayek thinking about Venka.

:)
--Nightsea

PS: I think the last stanza needs a word change...
now a wanderer or now a wonder
:?:

faeriegirl

the last stanza could also be 'now I wander', I think...
but we'll wait and see what Redhead says about it ;)

RedheadEmber

What's up with you people? Needing me to tell you what it's about... once you didn't have any problems interprenting what I wrote as you wanted! And especially you Embala... remember how this whole poem-collage thing started?

G0lden

Great poem Redhead. I'm sure the last stanza has to do with Rayek's first words of contempt towards the Wolfriders. :D

Embala

1. Why Are you complaining?

Quote:
Redhead Ember

What's up with you people? Needing me to tell you what it's about

Your poem is dissussed over two sides up to now :!:

2. Hey - I'm agreeing with you!
Quote:
Redhead Ember

... once you didn't have any problems interprenting what I wrote as you wanted!

Quote:
Embala

Different opinions ... multiple interpretations ... TYPICAL Redhead Wink



3. Remembering well 8)
Quote:
Redhead Ember

And especially you Embala... remember how this whole poem-collage thing started?

In this case - you'd have gotten a Kahvi dedicated this time :P ... without a nagging child ...

.
.
.

4. Guess I've a slightly different idea now ... let's see ... :D


--- and I still think there's sort of a typo in it ... :nuh-uh:

RedheadEmber

[color=red:f3bbc4144b]Oooh... even though you discussed it you all seemed so... [i:f3bbc4144b]"but we have to wait for Redhead to tell us what's it about!"[/i:f3bbc4144b] to me...

And... you never said anything about a typo![/color:f3bbc4144b]

jeb

Re:Nightsea's story

A nun changing her habit. Hmm...Why do I think there's a joke there?

Nightsea

Because there is! Someone finally got it!
*winks and laughs*
--NS

Embala

Just a bit of background again ...

[img:2643ddded7]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e364/Etumla/Habit_590.jpg[/img:2643ddded7]

... reconciled? :)

G0lden

I like it Embala. :D It fits Redheads' poem perfectly. :D

RedheadEmber

[quote:a9c5b2a6be="Embala"]Have to ask:
[quote:a9c5b2a6be]... Now here [b:a9c5b2a6be]a[/b:a9c5b2a6be] wander [/quote:a9c5b2a6be]A typo? Or a meaning I don't understand?[/quote:a9c5b2a6be]

[color=red:a9c5b2a6be]Now [i:a9c5b2a6be]that[/i:a9c5b2a6be] would be typo....[/color:a9c5b2a6be]

faeriegirl

Like the collage!

Tenderfoot

The girl looked down as she took a step. There was no need to be afraid. Another step. She focused on the rocky edge. It wasn't her fault that she always consulted things like this, it was part of her. It was like reading those Elfquest books! She had tried to stop, but it was impossible. The feeling of cool air was so tempting, better than the poisonous words from her classmates, telling her to do something of value.

"What are you doing!?" someone shrieked.

The girl tensed at the sound from her teacher by the door, the first words spoken today. Caught red-handed, she spun to have her say, but her feet slipped and left the rocky edge of the roof.

*SPLAT*

And Tenderfoot ended up as road pizza.

faeriegirl

Grin nice! (well, except for the end... poor Tenderfoot ;))

jeb

When I first saw your post, Tenderfoot, I was worried that I would have to choose whether I'd have the time to read your story....no problem!

Short, expressive, nice!

RedheadEmber

[color=red:3f291b1c19] Grin What's up with those ultra short pieces?



And... euhm... Tenderfoot... you [i:3f291b1c19]are[/i:3f291b1c19] gonna continue the medieval story... right?![/color:3f291b1c19]

Tenderfoot

Well, even I can write short pieces. Just use my own experiences Wink


[quote:fe533ee7e5="Redhead Ember"][color=red:fe533ee7e5]And... euhm... Tenderfoot... you [i:fe533ee7e5]are[/i:fe533ee7e5] gonna continue the medieval story... right?![/color:fe533ee7e5][/quote:fe533ee7e5]

Wha'da'ya think? I ended up as road pizza!

RedheadEmber

[color=red:28b8c3dc2a]Even road pizzas can write stories![/color:28b8c3dc2a]

Nightsea

Was road pizza the new revelation? I wasn't sure I found
all the elements in that one. I'm not sure what
"consulted things like this" means...perhaps that is a
translation issue?

Anyway, I certainly hope that Tenderfoot the character
is not just road pizza forever!

And that Tenderfoot the forum contributor will go on posting!
--Nightsea

Embala

Surprised You really should take better care of you, [b:80eba464f5]Tenderfoot[/b:80eba464f5]! Being road pizza doesn't count as an excuse for NOT telling an ElfQuest story! Wink

Tenderfoot

[quote:1f5e542596="Nightsea"]Was road pizza the new revelation? I wasn't sure I found all the elements in that one.[/quote:1f5e542596]

I you told me what you missed, it would be easier to explain. And no, the road pizza wasn't the new revelation. That was me :oops:

[quote:1f5e542596="Nightsea"]I'm not sure what "consulted things like this" means...perhaps that is a translation issue?[/quote:1f5e542596]

It means to go look for something on purpose, searching for something. Often combined with something bad, like danger.

[quote:1f5e542596="Nightsea"]Anyway, I certainly hope that Tenderfoot the character
is not just road pizza forever![/quote:1f5e542596]

Of course not!

[quote:1f5e542596="Nightsea"]And that Tenderfoot the forum contributor will go on posting![/quote:1f5e542596]

As long as I'm still living and breathing, I will!


[quote:1f5e542596="Embala"]Surprised You really should take better care of you, [b:1f5e542596]Tenderfoot[/b:1f5e542596]![/quote:1f5e542596]

Yeah, me know. I just wrote it down as it came to me, remembering something similar in real life.

[quote:1f5e542596="Embala"]Being road pizza doesn't count as an excuse for NOT telling an ElfQuest story! Wink [/quote:1f5e542596]

Damn, I knew I forgot something! But... Tenderfoot the character is an elf, remember? Right? *caught red-handed* Okay, me fixie!

Nightsea

Tenderfoot:
You asked what element I missed, and I had already said I didn't
find the "new revelation". Specifically what in your story is revealed
as new? The term road pizza (just kidding)? I know you answered "that was me" before...did you mean to reveal your character as new?

I saw that you edited in the "Elfquest" connection. Maybe you'll revise
again to make that element clear?

The phrase "consulted things like this" does not mean what
you think it does.

[quote:b34266b05c="Tenderfoot"]It means to go look for something on purpose, searching for something. Often combined with something bad, like danger.[/quote:b34266b05c]

Perhaps you mean consort (to associate; keep company: to consort with known criminals) or cavort (to prance or caper about)?

In your context, consult is not the correct word, and does not
carry the meaning you intend.

Maybe you might [b:b34266b05c]consult[/b:b34266b05c]
(to refer to for information: Consult your dictionary for the
spelling of the word) dictionary.com and find another term?

If I were telling the tale I might say instead "It wasn't her fault
she was drawn to the dangerous this way, it was just her nature."

I offer all this as hopefully helpful writing advice. I realilze these
grab bags aren't always very serious exercises, but they can be
good practice if you use them that way.

Your short tale deserves the attention because it has the potential
to be both dramatic and flip at the same time.

:)
--Nightsea

Tenderfoot

Ah, I see. Yup, you're right about the 'consulting' thingy. Definitaly a translation issue. Of course I will change that!

And the new revelation was that Tenderfoot was caught red-handed. She (me) had never been seen doing what she (I) did. Re-reading it now, I clearly see what mistakes I made.

Thank you so much for helping me with becoming better, Nightsea! :hug2:

Nightsea

Re-reading and editing help make anyone better. For example,
I just fixed my own spelling and the hyperlink to dictionary.com
in my previous post. lol

<hugs>
--Nightsea

Embala

I'm really worried now - half the month gone and none of the ongoing stories is posted yet!

This will be a tremendous mass of text to work through when it comes all at once!


... Wait ... NOW I'm SCARED :peek:

Cleopatra

Dont worry, Embala. There will suerly be some more stories soon. With me it will take a little long time. :oops:

clsazekiel

I'm no writer (infact I haven't even tried writing fiction in...years), but this thread looked so lonely and empty for being half way through the month. That I figured inflicting you all would be worth it to try and bump the page count up and towards the top of the thread list so people can get in the game~.

[u:40ed4a6577]----- Human-Pox -----[/u:40ed4a6577]


Skywise lies on his back under a makeshift overhang of large broad leaves and branches, listening to the gentle splatter of rain making its way through the boughs of the trees above and onto their cover. He shifts to nudge the heavy head of his lifelong friend off his shoulder and sits up to glance out into the misty early morning air, punctuated by the falling water. A thin shiver runs down his back. It's getting late in the year to sleep outside as naked as he and his companion are. No heavy furs or warm blankets are piled around them, only a bed of leaves to sleep on.

Cutter shifts with the push and mutters under his breath in that bitter human language he is becoming more accustomed to hearing recently. /Dung.../ He spits a bit at the sound of the word in his own mouth before glancing to Skywise and speaking more comfortably in their own tongue. "It's raining again... isn't it?" The young chief sniffs sleepily before rolling over and rubs at his eyes with the heel of his hand. He gives a quiet displeased groan at the stiffness in his back from sleeping on the ground. "Just how much longer do we have to stay out here?"

"Oh. About another week. This is all your fault you know." Pale fingers working up into the stand of silvery hair to scratch and smooth through it. Stretching and examining the fading red spots along his lean arms and chest with a rather appreciative grunt at their diminishing size. "Those humans are disgusting and you just had to go and drag me along with you to spy on them." Though his back is to his friend, and the broad amused smile is hidden, his voice certainly sounds sharp and harsh.

A strong foot plants right into Skywise's back from behind as the bemused blond snickers behind him, pushing him out and into the wet weather. "If you are going to nag away like a life mate, the least you could do is act a bit more demure in bed. The only reason no one came by and bothered us is because they thought there was a troll with a head cold in here."

"Tch! You're as noisy and red all over as I am, though the spots seem to be going away." The older stargazer closes his eyes and lets the cold water run down over his features and soothe the burning and itching of his flesh.
better?

To be honest, it had been a mistake on both of their parts. Sneaking into the human village at night to spy on them had been a foolish idea. The humans had been quiet for days and a rumor had developed among the elves that they had left, or even died. They crept in under the protection of a moonless night and poked around the cold embers and seemingly abandoned buildings, thinking to steal supplies while they confirmed or disproved the assumptions of the others.

Instead the pair had found sick and miserable figures huddled in their homes, succumbing to some spotted disease. Though seeming not to be fatal, it was making them too weak and exhausted to do much more than sleep.. It didn't take long for the returning pair to show signs of the itchy spots on their own skin, and were appropriately pushed out of the holt while they recovered on their own. Food was left for them nearby, but their clothes had been burned to keep any further taint from coming in contact with the holt.

The humans were recovering, and so were they.

"I'm never letting anyone near those humans' village again. It's going to be a rule-- or a law even." The focused voice of the young chief comes as he steps out of their makeshift tent and into the cold rain with his friend. "I won't go near there anymore. We're going to stop hunting near their lands as well. I don't care if the deer gather by the river." Cutter sighs and folds his arms, determined to stick to his word on the matter.


"Well, we'll see how long that lasts. You know how it is. That's a habit that wont be broken soon. When the chase is on, it's hard to draw a line in the sand and say, 'Well, that was just what we needed to feed everyone tonight, but it's on the other side of the line so we can't shoot it.'"

The blond shoots his friend a slightly dirty look and kicks a bit of the thick mud at him, splattering it over his chest and legs. "If it is the rule then it's the rule!" He grins at the sight of his mud-drenched friend. "There, now you look like a troll to match your snores!"

Taking up the challenge, Skywise dips his hand down and scoops up a nice collection of the gunky earth and throws it with deadly accuracy at his companion. "Ha! Says you!" He leans down to get another scoop of mud, but before he is armed for a second assault the blond tackles him about the shoulders. The sudden weight causes him to lose his precarious footing in the slippery soil. Overbalanced, he tumbles with the blond into a deep muddy puddle.

The laughing and playfully rough wrestling only lasts a few moments before they are both completely covered in mud from head to toe and panting to catch their breath, just in time for the early morning rainstorm to ease up and start to let sunlight filter in through the leaves above.

Cutter huffs and looks at his mud-caked body, rubbing some off his face and trying to find a grassy patch to wipe his hands off on. "You know.. the mud actually feels really good on these spots. I stopped itching too..."

Laughing and catching his breath, the older elf leans back on his elbows as he basks in the sudden comfort the cold mud brings. Skywise closes his eyes and relaxes as he ponders the revelation. "I think we may be onto something. A few more days of this stuff and we should be home in no time!"

---

A million thanks to my friend for proofing this for me.
Doodle to go along with the ficlet.~

[img:40ed4a6577]http://img183.imageshack.us/img183/7926/mudslinging.jpg[/img:40ed4a6577]

G0lden

Like the story. :D

stargazer

Cool story! :D

Embala

Like it, too :D - both fic and pic!

clsazekiel

Thanks a bunch! :3 Now everyone.. get to work!

faeriegirl

yea, me likes too!

Nightsea

Glad to see a new creator in these threads; welcome, [b:ecae57594b]clsazekiel[/b:ecae57594b]!

I enjoyed reading the story and think it is fantastic that you
have also included art!

Some more comments I have:
*your proofreader missed the extra letter "o"--the word should be "to"
[quote:ecae57594b="clsazekiel"]Though his back is too his friend[/quote:ecae57594b]
*the concept of a line in the sand caught me as non-Wolfrider
(this is a very subjective thing and others might not be taken
out of the story the same way I was by that phrase)

*I like how you remind us that Skywise was the "older elf" once

*I also like the mud-cure!

*Yay art! Let me say it another way...Ayoooah!

:)
--Nightsea

jeb

[quote:bd882bc5e4="Nightsea"]

Some more comments I have:
*your proofreader missed the extra letter "o"--the word should be "to"
[quote:bd882bc5e4="clsazekiel"]Though his back is too his friend[/quote:bd882bc5e4][/quote:bd882bc5e4]

That was the only part where I had to stop and go "OK, what?"

[quote:bd882bc5e4="Nightsea"]
*the concept of a line in the sand caught me as non-Wolfrider
(this is a very subjective thing and others might not be taken
out of the story the same way I was by that phrase)

--Nightsea[/quote:bd882bc5e4]

This didn't bother me too much as I saw it as they were talking literally about drawing a line in the sand, something I could envision the wolfriders doing, rather than as a figurative, symbolic phrase as we use it.

I enjoyed your story and artwork,[b:bd882bc5e4] clsazekiel[/b:bd882bc5e4], and appreciate your stepping in to take up some of the slack this month.

Now, Tenderfoot? Tymber? Cleopatra? *Ahem*

Tenderfoot

I... I've had a bad case of... Writer's Block. So bad that I've been struggling even with homework. But now, I'm working on it!

And I love everything so far! :D

RedheadEmber

[color=red:bad0deba6f]Nice story [b:bad0deba6f]clsazekiel[/b:bad0deba6f]

Got a little surprised when I realized it takes place [i:bad0deba6f]after[/i:bad0deba6f] Cutter became chief! :) [/color:bad0deba6f]

lunakat

it must take place after madcoil, but before the fire. A really nice story. Thanks!

Cleopatra

I'm finaly done with my grab bag for this month. Hope you enjoy.

[b:ff8cc5113a][size=18:ff8cc5113a]Love will find a way[/size:ff8cc5113a][/b:ff8cc5113a]

Xin-Jing looked up at the sky after she and her father had killed the big tusk hog. She and Alborn could hear the thunder was on it's way again like the one that had been earlier in the night. The sky was dark and unfriendly, like the enemy itself. Xin-Jing had never been afraid of the thunder before, but now she was trembling inside without showing it to her father. She missed Toron and Sturkas. If they had been with her now, she would have felt a little more safe maybe, but now she felt like a little girl who searched for safety from her parents. Her brothers had left the day before, and yet they hadn't returned.

I hope that nothing has happened to them, she thougt while she helped Alborn to lift the prey from the wet soil and take it back to the village. Immediately Alborn was aware of something that came closer on their way after they had lifted up the prey.

“Father?” Xin-Jing asked with a low voice.
“What is it?”

Alborn didn't answer her at first and looked carefully back towards the forest.

For the ones with unpractised ears and who weren't trained to be warriors, they wouldn't notice that something or someone was nearby. But father and daughter could hear it, running feet straight towards them, elves who didn't have the time to move quietly without a sound, only splat sounds against the wet soil.

#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/

I can do this. I can do this, Hawkeye thougt while he tried his tree-shaping powers to create a bow while chief Optarh patiently kept sure that it went as it should. Hawkeye could feel the branch that he held in his hands slowly began to shape at his will. Earlier the branch was hard, but now it was soft like a garment in his hands.

Focus. Focus. Don't get distracted by anything around you.

Hawkeye could not see how it was going with his closed eyes, but he could feel it. He just thought, shaped, without something or someone disturbing him.

“Did I make it?” he asked with nervous a nervous voice without opening his eyes.

“See for yourself,” Optarh replied with a friendly voice as he smiled.

Hawkeye opened his eyes and looked down at his hands, his eyes widened as he saw the bow he held. It looked so strong, so perfect. A surprised look turned to a smile in his face. He did it. And without an explosion this time.

“I did it,” he whispered.

“You have been a fast learner. Now you are halfway to control your powers,” Optarh said with a calm voice. Hawkeye could finally get the little taste of that he had won something, won the challenge to control his own powers, which hadn't been easy. He had a lot of hardship against him from some of the elves who disliked him because of the explosions, but now it had begun to go better for Hawkeye. Optarh looked up at the sky. It had suddenly turned darker, and it was probably waiting for a coming storm.

“I think it's best we go back to the village now before the storm begins,” Optarh said and began to walk towards the village. But as he had began to walk, Optarh could hear running feet run towards him and turned his head immediately to see Alborn, Xin-Jing and at least thirty elves who had been out on the battlefield. He could see in their faces that something had happened and that it wasn't good.

#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/

The warriors had sent to their chief and told him what had happened. On the battlefield the enemy had increased in number and it was obvious that they really had had enough of being beaten by the elves and now they would really try to get that what they wanted. Optarh had to think of a plan quickly. They wouldn't have time to get back to the village, warn everyone and hide the innocent elves, including Erla. So he and the other elves who were with him had to stay where they were and fight against the enemy. But this time, they would need more than just muscles and raw power. Optarh didn't like the thought at first, but he understood that this time they would need magic.

It is time that Hawkeye uses his powers to something, Optarh thougt.
We'll need it now!

He turned his head and met Hawkeyes eyes. It took a little time while he searched for the right words and asked with a calm voice as best he could.

“We don't use much magic here, but this time we have to do it,” Optarh said, looking down at his boots before he looked up again.
“Do you think you can help us a bit?”

Hawkeye didn't say a thing at first, but he thought about it. He gave a quick nod to answer and already began to feel a little shaky while Optarh told everyone of the plan for the upcoming fight.

#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/#/

The thunderclouds were dark. Not a raindrop had fallen on the ground and that suited The Dark Ones good as they sneaked through the woods. They had for the first time laughed of the elves they had been fighting for fifteen years, who now when they had seen them, fled from them like frightened rabbits. They would soon be nearby the village to the warriors, but now they were only searching for one elf. They stopped for a moment. They could feel that he was near.

The leader could remember the first time they had seen him, felt how much stronger they became just because they had been near him and felt the powerful magic within the elf. It was the same feeling now. They could all feel that he was near. This time they wouldn't disappoint The Dark Prince.

If only, oh if only these ninjas had been able to send, then they would have discovered the group of elves in the trees, hidden between the branches, snickering of them in a lock-sending. Optarh himself snickered with them, but had to hush at them in the lock-sending.

** Weapons ready? ** he sent to them. They gave quick nods as answer and grinned.

** This just have to work,” one of them sent.

** Oh, it will work. Trust me,** Optarh sent.

The elves laughed in the sending until Optarh gave a sign to be quiet. He looked down at the ninjas. His face turned impish. It was the moment he had been waiting for.

The moment the ninjas didn't look in their direction, Optarh took the opportunity to fly carefully and silently towards the ground right behind them. Then he pulled out his dagger and knocked the hilt against the nearest tree.

“Knock, knock,” he said and the ninjas turned around quickly, ready to attack the warrior chief. But is was then the other elves jumped from their hiding places and the fight was started. Elves against ninjas as it had been the last fifteen years. But it was only one elf who fought against them for the first time. Xin-Jing jumped and kicked towards the ninjas she could come over, but when she fought with her father, she felt in a way more secure and closer to him than ever before. Perhaps because they were fighting together or that it was her father?

He had waited for the right moment, the sign from Optarh. He should only use his powers a little against the ninjas, and it would certainly be over for a while.

The sound of the chirping from the chief was all he needed to know and in the next moment he stood far behind the fighting group. He was glad they didn't notice him at first while he concentrated to get in balance with body and soul as Optarh had taught him. He soon found himself in a trance and his hands slowly began to glow. He concentrated and was soon ready to use his powers, and tried as best he could to not boss it around.

The fighting elves suddenly stopped. As did the ninjas while they turned and saw him. They didn't notice that the elves took the opportunity to get just a few meters away from them and threw themselves on the ground while the ninjas ran against Hawkeye.

Oh, High Ones, let it work, Xin-Jing thougt.

It was no use for the ninjas before they felt the powerful magic that had been thrown towards them so many days ago and now threw them far away and the whole area was almost covered by the strong light and the ground shook. Finally it was over and the rain began to fall down.

The elves opened their eyes and saw the result. The Dark Ones were gone.

«He did it!» one of them shouted.
«He threw them far away!»

The elves cheered loudly for joy. They had gotten advantageous all thanks to Hawkeye. Optarh smiled to everyone, but especially to Hawkeye. But the smile disappeared fast as he saw him. Something was wrong.

«I made it,» he whispered slowly. His eyes began to glimmer a few times as he grabbed his head and began to teeter.
«I... made... it,» he said very slowly and then fell to the ground without standing up again.

«Hawkeye!» Xin-Jing screamed as she ran to him, knelt beside him and tried to lift him close to her. He breathed slowly, but he was alive. But it wasn't enough for her.

«What happened to him?» she sreamed at her chief.
«What happened to him?»

«I think he pushed himself too hard,» the warrior chief said with a trembling voice. He didn't want this it to happen to Hawkeye. But he had gave all he had.

They could hear someone run to them from the village and not long after, Eros was there.

«My chief. We saw that something happened here and...» he didn't say anything more when he saw Xin-Jing holding Hawkeye close in to her, refused the others, even her father, to take Hawkeye as her tears fell down to Hawkeyes face. She cursed herself. She should have been closer to Hawkeye, she shouldn't have costed him to fight against their recognition.

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“How are you?” Eros asked later that evening. Xin-Jing hadn't talked to anyone since they returned to the village and brought Hawkeye to his chamber so he could rest after he had pushed himself to hard against the enemy.

“I'm well, but at the same time not well,” she said after a while.
“I could feel that something was wrong with him, but I could not do anything to help him and now I feel so terrible.”

She tried to fight her tears back, but she didn't make it.

“Xin-Jing, why do you do this to yourself?” Eros asked while he sat down beside her.

“What do you mean?” she asked as her tears continued to fall down from her face.

“You know what I mean,” Eros said.
“Your recognition with Hawkeye. You can't continue like this to yourself anymore and especially not to him.”

She knew he was right. It was bad enough as it was, especially now that The Dark Ones had tried to attack them and take him. But what should she do now to join with Hawkeye when he wasn't well?

She felt Eros put his hand on her shoulder. This time she didn't protest. With the other hand, he gently held her chin and lifted her face towards himself so she looked into his eyes.

“There is only one thing to do, Xin-Jing,” Eros said with surprisingly calm voice.
“Go to him and join with him as soon as possible when he is well.”

She didn't say a thing at first.

“Why do you beg me to do it?”

“Because I understood today that it never can be anything between us. I had hoped, even wished that my feelings for you should turn out to recognition, but I have found out that my feelings for wasn't what I thought. I like you, but not in that way. So now I only hope you can forgive me for acting like idiot and that we can become friends instead.”

“Why do you let me go?” she whispered.
“Without a fight?”

Eros smiled and for one moment, Xin-Jing thought she caught a glimpse of tears in his eyes.

“When you care for something, you can't bear to see it hurt.”

Xin-Jing began to cry again and leant her head on his shoulder. He could hear between her sobs that she forgave him.

“Now you shall go to him,” Eros whispered into her ear.
“He needs you more now than I need you. Go now.”

With that he lifted her face and kissed her gently on her cheek and walked away. She was alone now, thoughtful of what Eros just a moment ago had said to her. He was right. She had tortured herself enough and so to him. She stood up and discovered now that the stars were shining in the sky. She walked towards the building were Hawkeye lived for now and found him in the bedroom. He was still sleeping when she opened the door and carefully she walked to him and sat down on the edge. With one hand she stroke her hand on his face carefully.

“Hey,” he said as he opened his eyes and looked straight at her with a smile.

“Hi,” she said back.
“How are you?”

“I've never felt so tired before, “ Hawkeye said as he forced himself up into a sitting position.
“To use magic is just as demanding as it is with recognition. Two things nagging at you at one time. It's not good for an elf.”

“But it was an advantage with it,” she said slowly.
“We have got an advantage on the enemy thanks to you. But I'm just so sorry that you pushed yourself too hard.”

“It's getting better with me now...,” Hawkeye said with a low voice.
“... now that you're here.”

She grabbed his hand and held it. Hawkeye stroked her cheek with his other hand. Xin-Jing looked thoughtfully on the marks on their left hands.

“We have fought long enough now,” she said after a while.

“I know,” Hawkeye said and stood up from his bed.
“But not here.”

She knew where he would join as she smiled and grabbed a blanket while Hawkeye got himself dressed and they went, hand in hand, together. No one in the village saw them go into the woods together, they just walked and walked while they looked each other in their eyes. His blue eyes against her green eyes. They went to a clearing in the forest and it was only them now, only two elves to create a life. He untied the red ribbon she had tied in her hair and kissed her gently. They didn't say a word to each other during the joining. He caressed her, she played with his hair. The lovers lived in the now, didn't care for the day after or if something more of the war happened. At last the lovers fell asleep with a blanket over themselves, the marks that had been on their hands were gone now as the feeling of new life grew inside Xin-Jing.

faeriegirl

aaawww... that was sweet. I like it!

Tenderfoot

Really nice! Sweet, touching and heart-warming.

Embala

Nice :D They are sweet together.
Eros is almost too insightful now - an unexpected U-turn.

Tenderfoot

[b:2e3dac11fa][size=18:2e3dac11fa]The best is yet to come[/size:2e3dac11fa][/b:2e3dac11fa]


Light poured in the window as she opened her eyes, the golden rays glimmering in the former dim light. Allowing herself a few moments of peace, her eyes slid shut again as she placed her hand on her stomach. She rubbed it slowly, each circle filled with overwhelming joy and love. A gasp escaped her lips as a rub was returned. She unclosed her eyes, looked down and smiled brightly. At first she had only had a vague feeling, it had always been in the middle. Now the feeling was spread everywhere and would soon be all over the place. In less than a moon. Only she knew; it was something they shared.

Forcing her gaze away from her hand, she let her eyes wander over to the window. She could hear the birds’ chirping mix with the low chattering from the maidens. The sun was up and so should she be. Taking a deep breath, she placed both hands just past her stomach and pushed herself up into a sitting position, then swung her legs over the edge of the bed. Her feet touched the wooden floor and she breathed again, stood up and walked over to the wash basin. Her morning routine was quickly done and she walked over to the chair by the bed, letting her fingers run over the soft cloth. Soon she would need more. A smile touched her lips and she pulled the light brown undergarment over her head, then she reached for the dawn colored dress and did the same. She shook her head and grabbed her brown hair, collecting it in a hairnet before walking over to the wash basin again. She cast a glance at herself in the polished plate. Satisfied with what she saw, she opened the door and left the room.

While walking down the passage, she had one hand placed on her stomach. The other was literally glued to the wall as she straddled towards the steps. She fought against the need to stop a few times and catch her breath, telling herself not to be silly. She didn’t need any help at all and if she appeared helpless, she would never hear the end of it. No, it was better to get a little exhausted than getting overdone help. She felt more and more as a cripple, not the budding giver she was. Then she stopped at the top of the steps, staring at the oh-so-faraway bottom. Help, no thanks. Though reconsidering it, she preferred feeling like a cripple rather than being one. On the other hand, she had walked down these steps the day before. Why shouldn’t she be able to do so today? Taking a deep breath, she lifted her foot and placed it on the step, her hand still securely glued to the wall.

One step. Two step. Then”¦

“Oh, High Ones! Beloved!”

She knew this was going to happen, she thought as she heard the running footfalls come closer and felt someone grab her arm. So much for that freedom. The secure hold turned into a tug, as if the owner of the hand tried to prevent her from falling. Great. What had been so bad with the thought of falling down the steps, again?

“Be careful, beloved! Think of the child!”

Brownberry let out a rather irritated sigh, turned her head and gave Longbranch ”˜the eye’.

“I am pregnant, not sick!” she said slowly, each word suppressed by a growl.

Black hair framed Longbranch’s face, which was lit with worry, his brown eyes pleading silently for her to listen to him for once. Brownberry had to restrain herself from rolling her eyes. Longbranch was only trying to help, she knew that, but he could be so irritating sometimes. He was bound and determined to keep his wife away from anything that could hurt their child, which of course was a battle he was quickly loosing. Brownberry couldn’t stay in bed all day, she needed to move. She didn’t push herself, she was no fool; she knew when she pushed herself too far and hated it when she woke up the day after, totally exhausted. But what she also understood, was that Longbranch’s obsession with her wasn’t just because of her pregnancy. He was desperate, in a constant need of having something to do. Something to focus on, something he could control, so that he didn’t drive himself crazy thinking and worrying about everything he couldn’t control, like his wife. However, Longbranch was driving everyone else crazy in the process. Especially Brownberry, who had turned her death glare of Doom to a brown scowl. She looked at her arm and his hand clenched around it, looked up at him and down again.

“Now, let me go!” she said as she pulled her arm loose.

Longbranch was about to protest and grab her arm again, but his wife was already three steps ahead of him. He stood still for a moment, then held up his forefinger and opened his mouth. And closed it. He opened it again, but closed it before a word could come out. It opened yet again, before he let out a defeated sigh, his forefinger still lifted in a silent protest. He would never get through, so he would just have to accept it. Just not whole-heartedly.

And Brownberry continued down the stairs with a hysterical, but muted, Longbranch in tow.


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One turn of the seasons. So little time, yet so much had changed in just that time space.

Ekuar was placed on a stone bench, his eyes weary, but still observant. Though he knew they would never go too far on their own, he never let his eyes wander off the children. Through his long life he had seen the consequences of such a mistake, each time one too many. One moment of not looking was enough, one could literally glue one’s eyes to a child for many years, but it would always be the one moment you weren’t looking, that something would happen. Children were a rare gift, a blessing from the High Ones that for most was wanted beyond everything else in life. Not everyone was gifted with these wondrous sources of endless love, and these poor souls would give almost anything to get a child in their possession.

Children, the only pure and innocent living beings in life, were the victims of dirty and cruel actions. Adults had seen enough of life to know that what they did had consequences. Though some didn’t even deserve better, children should never be part of this. But bad they were. And they played a big role in the game of life. Children were the very meaning of life, the key to peace and love, but they were too often treated like they weren’t worth what they were. Men gave their daughters away to save their necks or get more, women shied away from their sons to avoid getting attached to them, kings forced their daughters to marry princes from faraway lands”¦ others stole them, some were even cruel enough to claim others’ children in exchange for actions. Looking at the little boy, Ekuar wondered if Redmark could be such a child. He wouldn’t have been surprised if his parents had been forced to give him away to stop cruel actions, the thieves using him to hurt his loved ones, that his new ”˜family’ handed him over to the cloister so that he wouldn’t be their problem. Yes, Ekuar was very sure that this could be a solution. Redmark was such a quiet child, always happy and never in someone’s way. No one would have given him away freely. The innocent child could be a ransom.

Ekuar remembered all too well attacks on his former home and the cloister, the children he had seen playing, happily unknowing of what would come. He remembered all too well the frantic screams as children scattered, hands holding the older ones down as the children were caught one by one. Strangers stole the little ones, placing them on horseback for never to be seen again. Ekuar shuddered at the memory, but one kept coming back, pushing at his mind and demanding to surface again. He forced it away. He had been a helpless witness to too many abductions, not able to save any of the lost souls. Now that he was looking at the little ones in front of him, he knew that he would never take such a risk ever again.

So far, the children didn’t mind the extra attention they got. Aroree, on her knees on the stone floor with her skirts folded slightly, brushed a stray hair strand away from her face, placing it neatly behind the blond braid that ran over her forehead as she smiled.

“Come one, Redmark!” she said.
“Let us try something new!”

The younger boy looked up at her with a bright smile, the very welcomed one that could melt even stone-heart Winnowill. Aroree frowned at the not-so-welcome thought of the abbess’ nickname that Justina had made up. As her name told, she had taken a liking to justice. She and some of the novices, those who weren’t truly loyal to the High Ones, dared to speak poorly of the abbess. Aroree had often heard them whisper during the night, the few times they were left alone. She had heard more than enough to know that not everyone appreciated the strict rules. For them, it was like stealing the little life they had left. To Aroree, those rules meant safety. Inside the cloister walls meant peace and no dangers. Outside, the world was harsh, a place for loss where she had lost everything that she cared for. She had been alone for so long. Now, she had a new life, new friends ”“ a new family to care for. And she would not risk them for one day without duties. So she kept her mouth shut when Justina and the others tried to convince the abbess to let them out more often.

Aroree, so lost in thoughts that she didn’t see Redmark reach for her arm, let out a small yelp at the touch. She looked down and her frown immediately turned into a joyous smile as Redmark reached up and touched her arm, giggling softly as he, in his own peaceful way, demanded her attention and reminded her that she had talked to him. Ekuar had told her that she was like a sister to Redmark and that he looked up to her, worshipping her in the only way he knew how to. Aroree, on the other hand, preferred being his sister. And she wanted him to learn just that. Leaning forward, she placed both her hands on her knees and looked the child in the eye.

“Can you say [i:2e3dac11fa]”˜sister’[/i:2e3dac11fa]?”

Redmark’s smile turned into a little ”˜o’ and he cocked his head to the side, glancing up at her. Ekuar had to stifle a chuckle at the frown, not used to see the child in a mood different than happy. He knew that he shouldn’t take the attention away from Aroree, as she was in the middle of a very important process.

“Si-?” Redmark lisped, already used to playing this game of repeat.

Aroree would say a word and he would try to make a similar sound, forming his lips the way she did it. It had started with him recognizing the word for water and understanding it, making up his own word for the liquid as its original name was far too difficult for him to pronounce. Aroree had squealed in delight when she heard him say it, but ”˜wawa’ for water was not good enough, and so the game had started. They had now been playing it for the last three moons, but Redmark never got it right.

“Yes,” Aroree encouraged him with a bright smile.

Redmark’s face lit up before it fell back to its frown as he averted his gaze. His large green eyes had gotten a serious look as his little tongue stumbled in the new word. He tried to form his mouth the way Aroree did, tried to mimic the sound she made and tried to keep his tongue inside his mouth. He had heard the word many times; it was something the older ones said when talking to each other. Even Ekuar used it. But he had never heard it along with Aroree’s name, which made the task a little more difficult.

“Si-”¦ si-...”

He sent Aroree a desperate look of helplessness, wondering what he was supposed to do. Letting his gaze wander over to the priest on the stone bench, he let out a small whimper. The old elf chuckled as he turned to the older child.

“Maybe you should choose shorter words?” Ekuar suggested with a small smile.

He knew how Aroree longed for someone to call her by something else than just her name, how she pouted at stranger men calling her ”˜maiden’, and he didn’t want to break her little heart, but he also knew that children needed time to learn such words. Maybe Redmark didn’t even understand the meaning behind the word. For children, it was important that they knew what things were before they learned the words. The little girl looked up at him with large blue eyes, but there was no sign of disappointment there - only wondering understanding. She then nodded slowly, her smile changing to a grin as she leaned in closer to Redmark and held up her forefinger as if to emphasize the importance of what she was about to say.

“If the king ever comes to visit, you will have to call him ”˜master’,” she said.
“Can you say that? [i:2e3dac11fa]”˜Master’[/i:2e3dac11fa].”

She spoke slowly, letting Redmark taste the word before trying to roll it off his tongue.

“Ma-?”

“Yes,” Aroree smiled.

As the boy looked down again, concentrating hard on the newly discovered word, Aroree let her fingers lightly brush against her lips and chuckled. She knew the king would never come to the cloister as busy as he was. Even if he had the time, he surely wouldn’t let his royal mind even think of those who had devoted their lives to the High Ones. And almost no one said ”˜master’ anymore, especially not when talking to the king. The word was mostly used by thralls. Still, the word was easier to pronounce than sister and it was funny to watch Redmark struggle with it.

“Ma-”¦ ma-”¦”

Redmark looked up with a frown, not understanding the meaning behind the words. Why should he say something like that? It didn’t mean something he knew. He opened his mouth to let his say be known when he froze. Behind the pillars on the other side of the cloister garden, was a lobe of a black dress. By following the cloth with his eyes, he was able to catch a glimpse of a ghost of a smile on a pale face. Winnowill stepped out from the shadows, slowly walking towards them. Ekuar gave her a nod as greeting, Aroree sent her an anxious smile. Although she was convinced that the abbess had a heart like sira Ekuar and she was grateful for her letting Redmark stay, she still had a little problem with letting her come close to her heart. Redmark, on the other hand, could barely contain his own happiness and his little face lit up as the abbess stopped next to them. She smiled, a smile only Redmark saw, and it was only for him.

For her being a source of love and safety, he knew only one word.

“Mama!”

Ekuar’s eyes widened and his mouth dropped open, Winnowill’s expressions turned from calm to shock and Aroree’s face paled with plain horror as her head spun around, staring up at the abbess with large eyes.

“Oh no!” she gasped and her hands flew up to her mouth.

Only Redmark seemed to be unknowable of their reactions and of what he just said. Aroree felt her heart start to pound faster with each moment as she stared at the abbess, terrified that she had been so stupid to let Redmark hear the word. Of course he would use it one day and start asking about it, children did that. But Aroree was also a child and she knew what to not say to the one who decided whether she would be fed or not.

“I am so sorry, Mrs. Winnowill!” she squeaked and turned towards the abbess, her small hands clasped together in a muted prayer as her large eyes begged for forgiveness.
“He did not mean it!”

Winnowill’s robed shape was still, her smile frozen and her eyes large. Her chest slightly moving up and down was the only sign of her being alive as she stared down at the smiling Redmark with horrified eyes.

[i:2e3dac11fa]Mama? Oh, you precious fool, what have you done? What have [b:2e3dac11fa]I[/b:2e3dac11fa] done?[/i:2e3dac11fa]

The child thought of her as his own mother”¦ where had she done wrong? She was as far from a mother as Redmark was evil. Letting him believe she was his mother was as cruel as her thoughts of getting rid of him when she first saw him. He would only end up disappointed and she didn’t have the heart to do that to him. One the other hand”¦ wasn’t this what she had longed for? When Redmark opened his mouth and said that word, cold warmth had flooded through her mind and body. Wasn’t this what she had longed for? Being what she was meant to be? Being what she”¦ wanted to be? When she finally opened her mouth and spoke, her voice seemed distant and unknown to her.

“It”¦ it is okay.”

Ekuar and Aroree’s eyes snapped to her, but she didn’t send them her well-known glares. Instead she gave a small smile, hoping it would stifle the sound of her pounding heart.

“I am the mother of the cloister, after all.”

And with that she turned and walked away, leaving a slightly confused Ekuar and Aroree behind with a giggling and smiling Redmark.


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Morning. Colored with warmth, blending and melting into a warming blanket. Welcoming the sun, chasing the darkness away. The sky draped with stars.

[i:2e3dac11fa]Do you think stars reflect our lives?[/i:2e3dac11fa]

Stars, fading stars. Slowly fading away to be forgotten until night comes again.

[i:2e3dac11fa]What would it be like if each star belonged to a soul?[/i:2e3dac11fa]

He looked up at the glimmering crystals above his head, watched as they seemed to dim before his eyes.

[i:2e3dac11fa]I think the stars are the very mirrors to the soul, just like our eyes![/i:2e3dac11fa]

Morning. The time of day he used to appreciate. Why not anymore? He looked up at the fading stars, tears clouding his vision.

[i:2e3dac11fa]I like mornings. They bring life.[/i:2e3dac11fa]

Morning brings life. But they kill the stars. Let them fade away and crumble to nothingness, shrouding the sky in a cloak of lace. He closed his eyes, breathing slowly as he again fought the crystallized drops. Morning came, went and came, but brought no day.


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Bearclaw took a deep breath before lifting his hand and letting it connect with the door. Three knocks, one lower than the others. Everyone recognized his knocks, everyone knew it was him before he entered. No answer came from the other side and the prince opened the door carefully, peeking inside.

The slumped form on the throne was nothing like the father he was used to. With a worried frown, Bearclaw stepped inside. He saw Moonshade standing to his right and quickly walked over to her, lowering his voice so only his sister could hear.

“What is going on?”

Moonshade cast a glance on her father before she turned to her older brother with a sad sigh, her eyes filled with violet sorrow.

“He cannot seem to get over it,” she whispered.
“I am afraid he will be like when mother died.”

Bearclaw’s eyes widened slightly as his sister’s words sunk inside him and he felt his stomach turn upside down. Losing their mother was so hard, but watching their loving father crumble to nothing was even worse. He and Moonshade had been so young, Mantricker should have known better than to push his troubled children away. They were in the need of love and hadn’t understood why he suddenly turned so cold. Years later they had understood that their mother wasn’t the only thing that vanished from their life; they lost their father as well. Looking at the slumped figure on the throne, Bearclaw felt his stomach tighten. He didn’t want to go through that again. He wouldn’t!

Something in his eyes must have divulged him, for Moonshade suddenly turned a shade paler. He wouldn’t have thought it possible, as she was almost deadly pale from before, but now he didn’t even notice. His face hardened and his eyes narrowed, his lips parting in a sharp breath. His hands trembled as he closed them, and with a muted huff he marched over to his father.

“You have to stop this!” he harshly said.

Mantricker cast a tired glance at his son, his eyes dim and filled with sadness. Earlier, Bearclaw would have felt his stomach turn upside down and guilt rush through him for making his father even sadder. He had felt sorry for him before, let him take the time needed to overcome such a loss. He had tried to understand his father and cope with him, but this was getting too far. Now he barely cared for anything, but Bearclaw cared. Cared for his father. And now he wanted his father back. Closing his fists so hard that his veins popped out in rage, he grabbed the king by the arm and squeezed as hard as he could.

“When are you going to understand?” he shouted.
“He is dead!”

Mantricker’s head jerked upwards and he stared at his son with wide eyes. Moonshade and Joyleaf choked on their gasps while Strongbow’s jaws tightened and his mood darkened. Even though Mantricker had been the one to order his death, he had been like a father to him when his own left this world. And he hated watching family suffer.

“He is dead!” Bearclaw continued.
“There is nothing you can do! Get it over with!”

At this Mantricker frowned and yanked his arm away from the prince’s grip, but he remained silent. Only the fire still burning bright in his eyes showed that he wasn’t giving in to his son, but still taking his words to him.

“You are doing the same as when mother died, retreating into yourself and keeping everyone else out. Do you not see that this is affecting us as badly as you?” Bearclaw said and reached for his father’s arm again.
“That day mother died, we lost you too. I will not let our children lose their only grandfather the same way!”

[i:2e3dac11fa]Did we get you back only to lose you again?[/i:2e3dac11fa]

The question burned in his mind, but he was too furious to be able to let it out.

“Why can you not see?” Bearclaw said.
“He was found in a sleeping chamber, brutally murdered! His wife was found a day’s ride away from the manor, apparently having being toyed with to death by the assassins! And his”¦”

Here his voice faltered, failing him as he closed his eyes to keep them clear of the tears. No matter how foggy his mind was and how venomous his words could be, some deaths were too tragically to even think of mentioning.

“And their son was found with the nurse and the other children. All of them were killed!” he rasped with a hiss as he opened his eyes, his voice stained with tears.
“And you know this!”

If the room’s silence had been marked before, it was now penetrating. Out of breath as a result of his stream of words and cloistered thoughts, Bearclaw breathed deeply, as if exhausted. As thwarting his father was a one-time-in-life experience, all the rage and sorrow and grief he had felt since losing his father again that had built up inside him was lashed out, each truth slashing through his father’s defenses like swords through leather. The hate for the assassins, the anger for his father, the guilt for not being with Cutter, the sorrow for losing so many loved ones”¦ all his cloistered feelings were united, brought together in one final attack. But the king just sat there, watching his son with teary eyes as the prince felt sickly empty. He had hoped that letting his anger and feelings be known would help ease his own pain and maybe even knock some sense into his father’s stubborn royal skull. He didn’t feel such an easing. He only felt”¦ bad. And watching his father’s eyes lose the little glint of fire, he felt sick.

“Yes,” Mantricker finally whispered, his voice breaking the tensed silence.
“I do.”

Bearclaw let go of his father’s arm, his own dropping dead at his side, understanding coming to his senses. His father knew. He knew and understood, he just couldn’t”¦ accept.

“I too was sad when I heard of his death, but I do not let this one incident overtake my life!” Bearclaw said, his voice sounding uncomfortably sad.
“But you have to understand! He is dead! He will not come back! Grieving will not bring him back.”

The last was added as a whisper, his voice failing the prince as he felt he had said enough.


!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!


Crescent looked at everyone from her spot on her father's lap. Why was everyone so sad? Cutter sat on the floor, holding onto Joyleaf's dress while looking up at his grandfather, his blue eyes ablaze with fierce anger for being overlooked. Grandfather had sat on his throne with his head in his hands, silent and unmovable. Now his head was raised. Uncle was trembling and his fists closed. Looking over at cousin, Crescent could see that Cutter stuck out his lower lip and started to pout. Aunt had her hands folded in front of herself and her eyes were set on grandfather. Apparently she didn't take notice to her sulking son.

Mother stood next to the chair and smiled down at her daughter, wanting to show her that there wasn't anything bad. But her eyes were filled with sadness and told another story. Finally Crescent turned to father, looking up at him with an asking glance. Father met her gaze and smiled, encouraging her as he planted a kiss on her forehead. Crescent smiled, then slid down from father's lap. With her hand on his knee, she stabilized herself before she took a few steps forward.

Moonshade caught a glimpse of the toddler and choked on a gasp as she reached out for her. Strongbow's hand shot forward and stopped her in mid-move. Moonshade turned to him with an asking glare, but Strongbow just shook his head while he looked her in the eyes. Crescent continued toddling over to grandfather, where she grabbed his pants and looked up at him with large violet eyes filled with understanding.

“Up!” she said with a calm, but demanding voice and lifted her arms.

Mantricker looked down at his granddaughter and felt his eyes well up with tears again. His son was right. His friend had died, and his family along with him. Tears and grieving wouldn't bring them back. But his family was still alive. Crescent was here. Her large violet eyes were Moonshade's. And Thornflower's. Her short silken jet black hair was Moonshade's. She was Crescent, his granddaughter. She was alive. He bent down and picked her up, placed her on his lap and hugged her tightly as he finally allowed the tears to flow freely.


!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!


“That is it, Redmark!” Aroree said.
“One step at a time!”

Redmark tightened his grip on Aroree's hand and pulled slightly in Ekuar's, as if daring him to let go. He lifted his foot and started to sway immediately, but Ekuar pulled him back, making sure he didn't fall. The boy looked up at the old priest with curiosity in his large green eyes, his mouth slightly open. Aroree only chuckled. Redmark shot her a frowning look, wondering if he had done something wrong. But instead of dwelling with it, he turned his head forward again and with determination written on his face, he lifted his foot again. Leaning his weight forward, he put his foot down again.

“Good!” Aroree squealed.

Redmark smiled and giggled, lifting his other foot and placing it in front of the other. Ekuar smiled proudly as he watched the little boy take his time, each step bringing him closer to his goal. As the little group moved past the flowerbeds, Winnowill came out from a door on the other side, heading towards the herbal room.

“Look, Mrs. Winnowill!” Aroree exclaimed with a bright smile.
“Redmark walks!”

Winnowill stopped and turned around, facing the priest and two children.

“I can see that,” the abbess replied and allowed herself to smile a little.
“But do you not think it would be better if he were to do it on his own?”

Aroree’s smile turned into a frown, but only for a short moment. She trusted the abbess, she knew Ekuar wouldn’t let Redmark fall and the boy would, in any case, manage to go puppy-dog-look them to let go of his arms if he wanted to. Letting go of his hands, Aroree and Ekuar walked across the rocky floor and stopped not far away. The girl squatted down and reached out her arms.

“Come here, Redmark!” she said.
“You can do it!”

Redmark looked at Aroree and tilted his head to the side.

“Hah?”

“Yes, come here!” she said.

Redmark frowned slightly, then held his arms out and put his weight on his left leg. Then, very slowly, he lifted the right. Ekuar followed the toddler's moves intensely, ready to dart forward in case the child would fall. Aroree's eyes widened slightly and she swallowed, fighting the urge to rush forward and grab Redmark's chubby arms to prevent him from falling. Just the thought of him hurting himself was enough to make her feel sick. Redmark's eyes were burning with concentration as he placed the right foot in front of the left, slowly setting it on the ground. Winnowill choked on a gasp.

Redmark looked up, breaking his concentration only for a moment as he cast a glance at Aroree and Ekuar. Turning his head to the left, he saw Winnowill standing by a pillar, a small smile playing on her lips and his eyes locked eyes with hers. A look of determination crossed his face as he lifted his left foot and moved it to the left, followed by his right foot and the left again. He didn't see Aroree's confused look or Ekuar's eyes widening when he changed his direction. He was too busy concentrating on putting one chubby leg in front of the other, one step at a time, slowly moving over to the abbess. Winnowill was turning several shades paler for each step he took, unsureness and hesitancy filling her eyes as she frowned slightly.

“Uh,” she protested half-hearted.
“N-no. Go to Aroree. Over there. Go to them!”

Not knowing what to do, she took a step backwards and lifted her hand to her chest. Her move made Redmark stop and he sent her a clear look. Somehow, the abbess knew that that look in his eyes would bring older elves to their senses more than once. But although his eyes held so much knowledge of life, much more than anyone would give him credit for, he had lived for no more than one turn of the seasons. And being so small, the wisdom in his eyes made him look like a lost child.

[i:2e3dac11fa]Isn't that what he really is?[/i:2e3dac11fa]

Somehow, Redmark understood that Winnowill didn't want him to come closer and the fact that he had walked towards her upset him. But he didn't understand why, and that was what Winnowill saw. The look of pure loss and not knowing what to do. Her hand dropped instinctively, calm spread in her eyes and she sighed inwardly. Her reaction prickled Redmark's senses and his ears twitched, he blinked and almost seemed to sniff the air, as if testing her through it. She wasn't scared anymore. Lifting his foot again, he slowly toddled towards her, his eyes kept on the floor to avoid upsetting the abbess again. One step, two steps, three steps and he paused, wondering how one actually stopped when he fell forward and flung his arms around Winnowill's legs.

A gasp escaped Aroree's lips as she let out a breath she hadn't known she was holding and Ekuar stared as if a bunch of naked women had stood in front of him. Winnowill's eyes were wide as she stared down at Redmark, the child staring back. His look was clear and silence was the only thing that could be heard. Then his lips parted and he smiled brightly, snuggling into the black robe while beaming with pride. Winnowill's heart slowed down.

“You... made it,” she whispered.

A small smile appeared on her face and she bent down, slowly pulling her hand through the soft red baby hair. She locked eyes with Redmark and her smile grew as she nodded.

“Perfect!”


!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!


Midnight was close at hand. Torches were lit and guards were standing by. Sleep acquired the town and everyone in it. All but one family was asleep, one little family held awake by once again uniting.

“You must stop doing that, you know,” Mantricker muttered.
“Talk about truth like that, directed by your own feelings.”

“Tried,” Bearclaw said.
“Impossible. It is a part of who I am.”

The prince ignored the glare that was directed at him, only smiled as he settled onto the table and looked down at his father, fully knowing that what he did was forbidden. He just shooed the thoughts away. Crescent and Cutter were lulled to sleep by their mothers, a protecting Strongbow standing guard over them, defending them like a wolf if necessary. His lips twitched into a small smirk as the prince was able to receive a look from his father that was far from sad or happy.

“You never got him in snowball fights,” Bearclaw said with a light voice.
“You told me you always lost.”

“Yeah,” Mantricker said slowly, a small smile appearing at the same time as the memory.
“It was impossible to see him in all the snow. His hair kept him hidden.”

He chuckled at the memory and closed his eyes as Bearclaw smiled heartily. Mantricker could almost feel the cold presence of the snowball as it hit him square across the face, the unmistakable sound as the white powder ball connected with his royal face. His eyes welled up with tears as he could hear his friend’s hearty laughter ride on the breeze that caressed his face. Looking up at the sky, he saw that the sun leaving had brought stars.

[i:2e3dac11fa]Do you think stars reflect our lives?[/i:2e3dac11fa]

One star was shining particularly bright.

[i:2e3dac11fa]What would it be like if each star belonged to a soul?[/i:2e3dac11fa]

The glimmering crystal blinked.

[i:2e3dac11fa]I think the stars are the very mirrors to the soul, just like our eyes![/i:2e3dac11fa]

Only for him.

[i:2e3dac11fa]I like mornings. They bring life.[/i:2e3dac11fa]

Looking up at the sky, he saw that morning had gone. This time, it had brought night. A smile touched his lips.

[i:2e3dac11fa]But I like evenings the best. They are natural.[/i:2e3dac11fa]

Night”¦

Bearclaw sighed inwardly, feeling terribly sorry for his father, but still happy at the warmth spreading throughout his entire body. His father smiled. Accept was the first step to go on.

The healing had begun.

faeriegirl

Damn you for still not telling us who the murdered friend is!
[size=6:1f04fd5d35] though I do suspect someone now... [/size:1f04fd5d35]

And little Redmark is just too cute! Love him!

G0lden

Great story. but I still think Redmarks' parents are Mantrickers deceased friends' child. :D

RedheadEmber

[color=red:a99d2bb554]Wonderful story! :D

And you know what? You [i:a99d2bb554]really[/i:a99d2bb554] need to make a detailed time line with links to the stories...[/color:a99d2bb554]

faeriegirl

[quote:5cb573520e="G0lden"]Great story. but I still think Redmarks' parents are Mantrickers deceased friends' child. :D[/quote:5cb573520e]

No, actually, my guess is that there will be one small baby who miraculously survived... but I'll wait and see ;)

jeb

[quote:202b7b22ef="G0lden"]Great story. but I still think Redmarks' parents are Mantrickers deceased friends' child. :D[/quote:202b7b22ef]

I was thinking that too, until Bearclaw said that the son was found dead with his nurse.

Hmmm, so where does Redmark fit in? And now Brownberry and Longbranch?

Embala

Love it, Tenderfoot :love:
I'm wondering where this Redmark - Winnowill relationship will lead in future ...

Hm ... still like to believe that Redmark is Mantricker's dead friend's baby, but the "snowy" hair leads in a quite different direction. If so - there should be another orphaned child Wink ... yeeees, the baby is found dead. Really? All we know is that there was found a baby of fitting age among the dead - a trick often used to confuse the reader Wink

faeriegirl

[quote:e135341602="Embala"]Love it, Tenderfoot :love:
I'm wondering where this Redmark - Winnowill relationship will lead in future ...

Hm ... still like to believe that Redmark is Mantricker's dead friend's baby, but the "snowy" hair leads in a quite different direction. If so - there should be another orphaned child Wink ... yeeees, the baby is found dead. Really? All we know is that there was found a baby of fitting age among the dead - a trick often used to confuse the reader Wink[/quote:e135341602]
Yea, the snowy hair led me to my current suspicion of the dead parents' identity ;)

Cleopatra

Aw, come on! The answer is so obvious that I'm shocked no one has guessed it before!

Of course it's Demontricker!

Hello! They were friends in the series! Man, talk about not paying attention!

Embala

Surprised Hrrmmm ... logical somehow - and unbelievable at the same moment.

That's the difficulty of diving in a What-if tale ... while the head still clings to the usual ways - when Mantricker is effected so much by his death it MUST be an elf - a soulbrother, right? Oh - it's great there can be such overwhelming closeness between elf and man in your AU ... the more it's a pity that there shouldn't stay more than a memory ....

All we know is that there was found a baby of fitting age among the dead - a trick often used to confuse the reader Wink

faeriegirl

Damn, Demontricker makes too much sense... I was going for Shale&Eyes High being murdered, and baby Skywise should miraculously survive ofcourse, and be adopted by the king and be Cutter's soulbrother!

...*sigh*... too much wishful thinking, I guess ;)

faeriegirl

WTF?? Nooo don't let her die now... not just after finding each other...
and newborns saying 'doom' is not good... not good at all!

oh, and nitpick: You called Foxhair 'Foxfur' once, near the beginning!

ofcourse I liked it ^^

jeb

Quote:
Tymber

TO BE CONTINUED?



Hmmm, Does that mean you're moving on?

Embala

This was wonderful, Tymber - and terrible Surprised at the same time!

The child who longed for "harmony" so much that she refused to read/watch stories which don't have an happy ending [size=9:2d17d875dd](still influences my choices now)[/size:2d17d875dd] is nagging [i:2d17d875dd]"WHY!? Now that I really started to like her ... she's killed! Bad Tymber ... nastybad..."[/i:2d17d875dd] The woman says [i:2d17d875dd]"Riiiight ... but - it's so beautifully sad Unhappy :D .... and it gives the story a new direction again [size=7:2d17d875dd](yes, I've peeked)[/size:2d17d875dd]"[/i:2d17d875dd]

And there is balance - two new lives are born to the tribe ... "foreseeing" twins? :o Just wondering ... can newborn elves babble baby talk? A "wonky" sending would be easier to believe for me ... right now at least.

Before you have to make sure again: YES - I liked it! Loved it ... enjoyed it very much ... Wink

jeb

I also found the newborns talking to be a bit jarring. I know you've said that these elves are more like wolves with the short gestation period, so maybe they are also born more developed, like animals usually are, but just physiologically it's hard to think of them just born and developed enough to form words. Makes it too much like some weird sci-fi horror story for me, although I know it was prompted by the "first words" element.

I did like the parallel action of fulfillment of recognition and the birth of the twins. Getting both sides of the coin.

And Joybringer! Bummer! :(

Embala

[quote:bc5b619546="Tymber"]Yeah, sending would have been MUCH better had I thought of it.[/quote:bc5b619546]You can fix it any time ... and it will still count as "first words" - sending is a natural communication for elves. Wink

[quote:bc5b619546="Tymber"]It's about Rayek to me. Because if it was Kahvi - who is the "she" that it refers to taking the best of both of us, the worse of neither of us? Unless it was Vaya - but I don't think Kahvi gave Vaya's death too much more thought.[/quote:bc5b619546]Now - that would be the easiest part! Venka - again!

I fully agree that it fits perfectly for Rayek but ...
As Tymber brought it up again ... and Kahvi will not stop to usurp my mind:

[color=red:bc5b619546][b:bc5b619546]Breaking the habit[/b:bc5b619546][/color:bc5b619546]

[quote:bc5b619546][color=red:bc5b619546]I tried so hard
Breaking my habit[/color:bc5b619546][/quote:bc5b619546] - refering to her temper ... and more - the need to find another aim after the Icetrolls are defeated

[quote:bc5b619546][color=red:bc5b619546]How could a child
Nagging to play[/color:bc5b619546][/quote:bc5b619546]- that's the difficult part - no real reference. I fancied it would be her childhood ... she just wanted to play like any child but had to deal with TS's standards for hunter, warrior and chief much too soon

[quote:bc5b619546][color=red:bc5b619546]Possibly have turned into
What I have become?[/color:bc5b619546][/quote:bc5b619546]- a warrior, cold, driven, seemingly uneffected even by her daughter's death - and being without a perspective right now.

[quote:bc5b619546][color=red:bc5b619546]*SPLAT*
It went down
Down
Down
Down [/color:bc5b619546][/quote:bc5b619546]- a flashback ... falling in the magic pond after TS stabed her. Her body sinking to the ground - her mind sinking in the darkness of death ...

[quote:bc5b619546][color=red:bc5b619546]Perfectly balanced
Of fire and ice
She took the best of us both
The worst of neither of us[/color:bc5b619546][/quote:bc5b619546] - Venka of course, her second child - and the new self-awareness that her way wasn't so perfect in in retrospect.

[quote:bc5b619546][color=red:bc5b619546]Now here a wander
Wondering why[/color:bc5b619546][/quote:bc5b619546]- her journey back to her tribe after the "child quest"

[quote:bc5b619546][color=red:bc5b619546]First words long ago
Were those of contempt[/color:bc5b619546][/quote:bc5b619546]- difficult again, I confess ... decided that her thoughts are still sticking with Cutter (and Leetah) - refering to her suggestion to leave him back, to let him die .. that he'll not make it by any chance.

All this happening while she's on her way back from the "child quest", most probably in the ice cave after being rescued by the wolf.

Maybe I was "nagging around" because I tried to get rid of my first imagination that it's about Kahvi by "proving" it's Rayek in every very detail. Should be content by knowing that variant, ambiguous interpretations are part of the fun with your poems, [b:bc5b619546]Redhead[/b:bc5b619546]! Wink

[img:bc5b619546]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e364/Etumla/Breaking.jpg[/img:bc5b619546]

Thanks for the kind words for my little contribution, Tymber. I know I'm lacking a real collage several times now :oops: ... I'll try to catch up. *shrug* ... At least I managed to contribute twice in the August grab-bag ...

Embala

Awww ... :hug:

RedheadEmber

[color=red:6f4d2e28f2]It [i:6f4d2e28f2]is[/i:6f4d2e28f2] about Rayek...
The *SPLAT* part was about the Palace sinking...[/color:6f4d2e28f2]

Embala

I KNOW, [b:420cd8eeab]Redhead[/b:420cd8eeab] (as my first Background picture shows) - but now I like the idea that it COULD have been about Kahvi as well. :D

RedheadEmber

[color=red:5d3be649b8]Well... it could be about whoever you want it to be about... 8) [/color:5d3be649b8]

Embala

8)

G0lden

Love the collage Embala. :D

jeb

This is just a very short piece visiting the story of my characters Twinstar and Lastlight again. (If you want the background, visit [url=http://www.elfquest.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=400533#400533]here[/url], [url=http://www.elfquest.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=402368#402368]here[/url] and [url=http://www.elfquest.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=442085#442085]here[/url].)

Somehow it always sounds so great in my head at 2 am, but it loses something in the typing. :roll:
_________________________________________________________

elements for September:

*SPLAT!!* (whether it's someone jumping into water, a sudden downpour or whatever the imagination can come up with!)
Balance
A New Revelation (this can be about something they have, something they thought they knew, something they find, etc)
Nagging
A First Word - whether it's the first word someone says in the story, or someone's first word in another language/tongue
Trying to Change Habits: The struggle to break a bad habit, or trying to start (and stick with) a good one.
_________________________________________________________

Splat!

The punkin hit the ground with a satisfying explosion, hard shell bursting to yield a rain of soft flesh and seeds.

The evening had been a disaster. Still young, Lastlight had only recently been allowed to join the hunt, anxious to prove his worth to his nimbler, more agile tribemates. So far all he’d proved is how much of a mess he could make of things.

He was fine until they’d get scent of the prey, then instinct would take over, reason drowned out by the frenzy of the chase.

This night he had been the first to find a trail and it was a good one, a big-tusked boar. But in the heat of pursuit he had lost his sense of himself, spurred on by the scent of blood, leaving the rest of the tribe behind. Then, wild with the effort to get ahead of the boar, he had lost his balance, flying off his wolf and rolling straight toward the great tusks. It was only chance that saved him as an arm, raised for protection, connected with the beast just hard enough to make it unsteady on its feet for a moment. Luckily, in that moment someone was able to fire off an arrow, stopping the boar, or Lastlight surely would have been dead.

He looked down from his tree-branch perch to where some squirrels had gathered, feasting on the punkin’s remains. In anger and frustration at the night’s events Lastlight flung another squash in their direction, causing the small animals to disperse and chitter angrily at him from the trees.

“Aw, be quiet!” He launched another projectile, but this time the brown, furry thing it landed next to didn’t move. A boot? He followed the boot up to the face of its owner. Sunflower, pale gold ringlets framing her face like the petals of her namesake. A few seasons older than Lastlight, she had been on the hunt tonight, had witnessed his failure, and now his childish sulking. His heart sunk to the pit of his stomach.

“Puckernuts!”

If Sunflower noticed the wreckage strewn about her, she made no sign. “You meet a tribemate in the forest, and this is the first word you offer: Puckernuts?” She stopped below Lastlight’s perch and looked up at him, her wide, dark eyes like the shadowy depths of the nighttime forest, unfathomable. She turned away. “Although I’m not surprised you wouldn’t be too happy to see me after tonight.”

Lastlight’s face burned with embarrassment.

Still looking away Sunflower continued, her voice casual, as if discussing the weather. “I know you think you’re so much better than the rest of us, but do you really need to show it off?”

He sputtered, “Better than-?”

“I mean, you’re always the first to get the scent, and everyone knows you’re one of the strongest in the tribe, but really, wrestling a boar? It’s a bit much! I’m sure you’ll never forgive me for shooting it and taking away your fun.”

Lastlight just stood there, mouth hanging open, wanting to say something, but not knowing where to start. Could she really think that what he did tonight was on purpose? That he thought he was better than everyone? All he wanted was to be good enough!

She glanced at him again before walking away. “If I may say, I have noticed that your aim with a bow could use a little improvement. If you would condescend to some help, I wouldn’t mind giving you some lessons. You might find it more effective than beating the game to death. Safer, too.”

Anger and confusion warring within him, he picked up the last of his vegetable ammunition, intent on making a target of her retreating figure, but as he aimed at her he couldn't help but notice the fluid grace with which she moved through the forest shadows, moonlight dancing on the waves of her hair, leathers swaying playfully around her thighs. He’d envied that kind of grace before, but never really appreciated it.

The arm holding the punkin lowered.

And thinking about it, hadn’t she just called him strong? Noticed how he always found the game? If she was offering to help him, she couldn’t really be making fun of him, could she? In fact, she’d saved his life. Maybe she had something to teach him, after all.

The punkin plopped to the forest floor with a wet thud.

“Hey, Sunflower! Wait!”

Hurrying to catch up, Lastlight couldn’t see her smile.

faeriegirl

Love it! :)

Embala

Think it still sounds great! :D I like Lastlight struggles with coming of age, finding his place ... and I see a lovemating at the horizon :heart: Sunflower seems to be a sly one ...