Here are the elements for April:
-someone caught red-handed
-things start to happen
-Crrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrazy (or just crazy)
All works must be related to Elfquest, whether canon-based, original character, alternate universe, or whatever. Writings must contain all the above elements. Art can either contain all the elements, or illustrate one of the writings.
Index of Previous Grab-bags
Yay! First! Enjoy, if you haven't read it in my thread yet
Bearclaw had been gone for days now, down in the troll tunnels doing business.
The humans had been coming closer and closer to the Holt, right up to the point where they ambushed Brownberry and Foxfur while they were gathering eggs. They had escaped with only a few scratches, but it had been enough. Some of the Wolfriders wanted to ride out and wipe those filthy humans out once and for all.
Joyleaf, as acting chief, had ordered to stay down and not wander far from the Holt. Her son, Cutter, had voiced a never-before option... "Why don't we try and talk to them? If we could work out a peace..."
"Ya think? Humans don't want to talk, they only understand blood!"
The elders had tried to tell him it was too dangerous, but he wouldn't listen. So Joyleaf sent him and me to the edge of the Holt, to look out for Bearclaw. Hopefully he would be back soon, our chief would know what to do!
"I'm tired of being treated like a young cub!" Cutter spat. "You believe in me, don't you, Nightfall?" I nodded. "I believe in you, and I will follow wherever you lead." This seemed to calm him, but the next moment he was up and walking away.
"Good. But not now. Stay here and keep watch, I'm going to talk with the humans. I'll be back when I've made peace."
And just like that, he was gone. I didn't even have time to argue with him. What should I do now?? He was my chief to be, and my dearest friend. Should I listen to him, and keep watch?But he's going to the humans! Will they really listen to him? Or... Will they attack him, like they did to Brownberry and Foxfur? Oooh, he's crrrrrrrrrrrrazy!!
It were agonizing moments. I did not want to betray my friend's trust, but what if he was walking right into a death trap? I would never forgive myself... I made my decision. **Joyleaf...!!**
Joyleaf acted quickly, and mere moments after my message she had gathered a rescue party. I was ordered back to the Holt, where I was welcomed and hugged.
A little while later, the party returned. They were carrying a heavily wounded Cutter, and I rushed to his side. "Oh no!! Is he... It's all my fault! If I had warned you sooner..."
Joyleaf had grabbed me by the shoulders, and made me look her in the eyes. "You are the one that saved Cutter. If you hadn't warned us, he'd be dead now! Yes, he is heavily wounded, and might not pull through, but you gave him this fighting chance!"
Hereafter, she disappeared into her den, where Rain had already started working on Cutters healing. I stayed outside with the rest of the tribe, waiting and hoping and praying to the High Ones that our young chief-son would make it.
Days later, when Bearclaw finally returned, I still hadn't stopped crying. Rain had worked almost without rest, and still Cutter wasn't healed! Silently, I glared at my chief. Why had he not been here? He should have been here, to save his son!
With new hope, I saw Bearclaw exit the den again. His words went past me completely, because I had finally seen what I almost didn't dare hope for anymore... Cutter was looking out of the den! A teary smile broke through on my face, and I wiped my tears away. Unable to contain my joy, I sent all my love to him.
The return sending was full of gratitude, not a hint of anger or betrayed feelings. **Thank you.**
Aww sad and lovely!!
Well, Cutter survived... so could've been worse
But thank you! ^.^
(a.k.a. The Lament of Two-Edge)
(...sometime after Two Edge settles in the area of the future Citadel Mound...
These humans, so wasteful of their talents
The Elves, wasteful of their long lives
The Trolls, wasteful of both
The magic users, either corrupt or useless...
And me, with no direction to turn but to myself,
making me no more of value than any other...
What am I, to what purpose am I to serve?
Will the riddle ever cease?
I can not stay inside,
I can not go outside,
there is too much to do,
there are not enough directions to channel my effort.
Kin to none,
but kin to all!
Mother saw it true,
to mix me well as an alloy of two.
I am my hammer,
a clatter of noise and a shower of sparks,
for none to hear, and none to see-
no less a waste than any other.
My long life gets longer,
my thoughts circle round and round-
feeding on themselves in an ever tighter grip
Crushing my happiness and squeezing out peace….
Until I pick up my hammer
and mete the swirl of confusion
with the resilience of steel
the resonance of uniformity
the purity of purpose
mixing the alloy
beating the ore into usefulness…
pounding out the mind's scream.
It is strange to me how there is order, strength, purity
in the mixing of metal and mineral!
Weak, pure elements combined into a mixture that is impure-
and the impurity leads to strength.
Combination and recombination,
Blow by blow,
beaten into form-
a form that has purpose.
But I am a mixture,
and have been beaten!
should I not be strong?
Should I not too have purpose?
The Trolls value my skill,
and the Elves value my games-
but the magic users wish to shape me,
and that hammer pains me to no end.
Mother molded me to no purpose.
She beats my edges flat and my hilt sharp,
so that I can not handle myself-
If I could gain that grip I could be more than useless.
She forces me to choose what I am,
but she allows me no choice:
“Not quite an Elf,
…but no son of mine could be a Troll!”
She twists my mind with song and game-
Song and game should be enjoyed!
Enjoyed by both the songsmith and player.
Her songs are beautiful to her ears,
and her games are her enjoyment for days.
Both are my torment and pain…
…which mother loves…
…so she loves me.
She loves me in her hate, and hates me in her love.
She is perfect to herself and can do no wrong,
but I am her wrong and must pay for my existence-
for if she can do no wrong it must not be she that did the wrong but me!
When I was small I was happy. Father showed me the way of the hammer.
His strokes shaped my toys and trinkets for mother.
As I remember his heart was pure, in his way purer than any Troll, when he was with us.
Why did I ask about the others? Why did I remind him of his duty?
In his purity he was weak, and in his weakness I killed him!
For in my curiosity of his half he remembered his goals.
We could not leave the lower chambers to explore above, the way was locked.
But he was a Troll and could not be barred by rock or key.
He ascended above and explored the caves; caves he knew had not been formed by pick.
He knew there were shapers of stone as mother shaped flesh.
He said we would leave, he said we would meet his kin and return, but first...
There was an Elf to steal, only one, one which would complete his task and we would be free to stay.
But Mother came
Mother came and I told her
I told her...
told her of our plan…
Told her that father had gone to fetch the shaper….
She left me then, alone again in the dark, and didn't close the door.
I followed her up,
up and up,
up where the air was cool, the smell of other elves strong.
Followed her to the end of the tunnel, but the way was blocked!
Stone bars, barbed and solid, blocked my way!
Father stood before her, in the strangeness of the room.
An Elf at his feet, an egg behind him, mother before him.
They were arguing.
Why were they arguing?
They never argued.
She was furious!
Her hands glowed as she raged.
Father just stood there, looking for a way past her to me.
He tried to explain, tried to tell her it was only one, she had many...
She wouldn't listen.
It wasn't even so much that she cared for them, that she felt what he was doing was wrong.
It was that he was hers, and the shaper was hers, and the egg was hers...
I was hers.
Father would not back down!
He started to pass her, bringing his hammer to bear on the bars to our tunnel...
Mother blinked once, and seemed to not be so mad.
But her hands still glowed, bluer than before...
She turned and looked at me….
a look of one betrayed, wild and confused.
The look of one who had just lost everything.
A demanding glare laced with poisonous rage!
A stare to bore through my eyes with hers...
to wrest one answer from me...
Am I an Elf?
…or am I a Troll?
It happened so fast.
I could not understand.
I did not know the answer.
I did not know the question.
What am I?
I am a failure!
I am a wrong!
I was a doom to my father!
I could not answer.
Her hands flashed bright-
and father melted….
He dropped the Elf and screamed!
He staggered one step to me,
a plea for help in his eyes.
There was no time for tears,
no time for goodbye,
no time to stop her.
He fell to the floor,
a steaming pile of flesh,
the blood pooling at my feet.
The flesh of his body,
and the bone of his spine,
And I ran...
In the darkness of my room I hid.
I still didn't understand.
What had happened?
Was father coming back for me?
Were we going to see the Trolls?
A noise made me look-
Mother’s slender outline in the door,
in the dim light of the other room.
I was babbling, crying,
something terrible had happened!
What had happened?
I couldn't see her face as she stood there.
…it seemed... she was smiling...
It was alright! I must have been having that dream again.
She has come to hug me, to wipe my tears away!
I stood, and stepped toward mother.
I was still babbling, I told her I had a bad dream.
I was scared, but I was a big boy and not that scared.
She said nothing, but smiled.
As I came closer I could see her smile, almost glowing in the darkness...
White, like the cave worms...
Her hair a black chasm,
with her eyes peering out at me…
she was laughing quietly,
kind of a light, happy laugh,
like when she caught me playing with my toys at night.
I began to feel strange, so much wrong when her face said “it’s all right.”
I stopped not an arm's length away...
She hadn’t moved,
not even a little.
but her grin seemed to grow.
I stopped babbling.
I just stood there,
begging for an answer-
And she asked the question...
Who are you?
Are you Elf?
Or are you Troll?
How can you know my dreams?
Why would you make light of them?
She turned away, leaving me there, alone again in the dark.
The games began.
The riddle must be solved, it has plagued me ever since.
Her voice haunts my thoughts, my dreams.
So long she tormented me!
So long she loved me!
She knew it was my fault! She knows it all!
She is perfect, she told me so!
And in her perfection only she could punish me as I needed.
But she cannot be right! I know this! There is something wrong but I do not know what.
She proves herself right time and time again.
I cannot know all the ways she is right and what is wrong.
Who was I to ask? There was no one!
Leetah's turn at the anvil was seductive,
I nearly forgot mother's touch!
My flesh are their alloy and my mind their steel-
Both to be heated in their forge and formed by their hammer blows!
Mother's touch was a torment, bringing joy when she went on her way,
Leetah's touch was a joy, and was to be a torment when she left.
They are the same…They ARE the same!
Flesh and bone, mind and body formed by their will alone!
But what of my will?
What is my will?
I cannot know until the game is through-
and I have played so long I know of nothing else.
Am I Elf?
Am I Troll?
Perhaps I am human after all?
Perhaps a human is not so evil as Elf or Troll?
Humans are weak, short lived, and impure in action.
They all have the same gifts: they live no longer or shorter,
they have no magic and cannot mix with the animals.
In this they are the same, and pure.
In their purity they are weak, but in weakness they can be formed easily.
An alliance can be forged, with their ambition and my ability,
and alloy can be formed, will it be strong?
Could it be strongest of all?
It begins again, the game, my name-
I am an alloy of Elf and Troll,
Neither and both, for now I reject them!
This new steel must be made and tested,
Forged, though the effort is great,
The metals resist!
They will yield, as will I, with their mound in the sky!
Power in heights, as Mother enjoys, she cannot stay away!
I lured them here, groomed them,
As she would have, so long ago,
In her Mountain of Blue, with her playthings below,
I watched her for long, playing with her toys.
I have had to become her, dealing with men,
but I have learned a truth:
When one fights one,
Another swings the balance!
We shall duel, her and I, and leave the others out of it!
In humans we can find a middle ground,
And when she feels safe and comfortable in my nest,
I will put her to the test!
I will show her the mercy she showed me-
repay the kindness she bestowed upon me.
I will teach her as she taught me,
and I will turn this game on its end!
I will sing to her as she sang to me.
I will play with her as she played with me.
I will laugh as she laughed.
Smile as she smiled at me!
I will show her that I am a son she can be proud of,
and like the humans who become their parent’s parents,
I will watch over her and teach her as she taught me,
and I will love her as she loved me!
As the parent watches over the child,
the child watches over the parent.
As the alloy of pure and weak materials
blend to make stronger, mixed metals-
I will right the wrong!
I will form the alloy!
I will mix the metals!
And she will have no power over me!
But wait! I must wait!
I must think this through!
In this moment of clear vision,
so rare and valuable,
I must think, ya think?
What will I do?
When this game is done,
What will I do?
If mother were to learn as I have right now,
that she is not the only one who wields power-
If she were to learn that there is more to be done
than to see to the undoing of others-
If she were to see herself as others see her,
Turn away from herself and become whole,
would she be undone, or would she find new purpose?
If I am to succeed, where will I go from here? What will I do?
For it seems that though I start to see “what” I am,
I still do not know who!
I am Two-Edge, this much is true.
I am part Elf
I am part Troll
I am an alloy of both,
Beaten into strength!
But what is my purpose?
Am I a Blade, to swing in defense or attack?
My two edges to cut to the truth, or at it?
Perhaps a knife to carve a path for someone else?
Or am I a worn and useless blade, without a point?
Am I a Hammer, forging a purpose from nothing?
Pounding away at ore to extract its pure substance?
Finely forming tools to be used by others?
Or have I been beaten too much?
Am I a Pickaxe, mining away for more?
Tunneling through any obstacle to form a new path?
Swinging away doing hard, honest work?
Or am I mined out, barren, and useless?
Am I some Trinket, useful for nothing more than to look at?
Pretty to some, hideous to others?
Useless to all, but coveted just the same?
Or am I just a misshapen form, unwanted and about to be thrown out?
What am I?
What am I to be?
The questions remain!
The questions mock me!
I may be no Elf,
I may be no Troll,
I may be no human,
but I am not, will not, cannot be my mother!
I am no longer clear,
save for what I want to hear,
when it comes to my dear mother, dear,
things should remain as they lie here!
I will indeed play with these five fingered bees,
and keep the Elves from out of the trees,
I will leave her alone, then as for me,
I will sing the forge songs as though it were just father and me.
faeriegirl, your story was lovely, heartwarming and a little bit sad. I always wondered how Nightfall had been thinking and feeling from the comic, and you caught it well. Good job.
TrollHammer, it was interesting to see the past from Two-Edge. Too see how he felt and the thoughts from him, . I liked the story and as I said to faeriegirl. Good job.
^.^ Very nice, TrollHammer!!
And thank you, Cleopatra!
<insert shameless self-promotion>If you liked this one, maybe you'll like other grab-bag stuff I've written... find them gathered in my writings thread, linky in my sig! <end shameless self-promotion>
Very nice poem TrollHamer!!
Nice story Fae. Love the poem Troll Hammer.
loved the tale Troll Hammer
loved your tale also Faeriegirl. Nightfall has alway been my favorite!!!!
Nice story fae!
And what an epic-wonderful poem you've written there Trollhammer!
No medal for guessing who this is about...
this elf cub is so sweet?
More like trouble
I’d dare to say;
where she goes
never is there quiet.
her hands behind her back.
her parents see
the colour that they had:
pretty colours, full of fun,
makes such a lovely sound
when this little
played in sheer delight.
But she grew up;
she didn’t like
this age mate that she had.
He was always
full of it;
thought himself the best!
She thought “No!
I’ll show this guy,
I’m just as good as he!”
Everything when crrrrrrazy now,
the tribe was almost split;
who was with him?
Who was with her?
You never really knew.
was their scores,
they never found an end.
A test of patience in the end;
stare each others’ eyes.
they sat without a sound.
Miracle came in the end,
when recognition stroke.
Those who hated had before
slowly learned to love.
Verrrrrrrrrrry nice poem, Redhead! And indeed easy guessing who it's about!
oh, one nitpick: shouldn't it be age mate instead of age mage?
Love the poem Redhead!!!
(I've never did this before soooo here goes)
As I go thru the trees practicing my tree walking, and listening to the soft breeze in the leaves I spot some pretty flowers on the forest floor. I climb down to take a closer look. They smell very good and are very colorful. After that I realize that I am close to the waterfall. So before it gets to dark I want to see if I can catch a silver minnow. But before I can even look into the water I hear leaves rustling. I investigate and see Strongbow and Moonshade! At that point mother **sends** for me......"Next Howl I'm going to sing a song about it!"
Redhead Ember, that's a perfect poem. You caught it all very well.
Antonia Orozco, a sweet lovely story. Easy to guess who it was that found Strongbow and Moonshade.
Cuteness!! Very nice, Antonia Orozco!
My Thanks to both of you!!!! I am not a story teller but thought I give it a shot
very cute Story Antonia!!!
How things started to happen...................................................................................................
*Ya think?* Disaproval. *You are too old for this!*
*... but ... this cover is too beautiful ...* Once more I had caught myself with a comic book in my hands - this comic book! *The wolf looks fantastic ...*
*You are an adult, are you?!* Once more I tried to make up my mind - should I really buy it? *Crrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrazy*
*These figures are so graceful ...* Once more I was too ashamed to pay for it at the cash desk. *... but elves are for children.*
The voice of reason (or my shyness) had prevailed over the instinctive wish to possess this album - if only for cover art's sake. I didn't know that it was too late already ... I would return again ... and again ... and finally buy it - read it - fall in love forever.
LOVE IT, Embala!!!
Ahh Love it Embala!!!
Embala, cool story. A perfect way to start to read Elfquest.
Tymber, uh oh. Everything doesen't seem so good now. Now Branchsnapper is in really trouble here, I've never liked Branchsnapper.
*growls at Branchsnapper*
And Shadow... how will it go with him now? The wolfriders needs him, and poor Foxhair. Hope it will be better with her and Shadow.
Shadow! You need to stay in bed and recover!!
and YAAAYYY!!!! for Vineweaver and Spearclaw!! Perfect trap!!! but oooohhhh.... please don't let Vineweaver be killed!!!
faeriegirl: Nice story! Good to see the comic from another point of view.
Trollhammer: Fabulous, epic poem. I think you really captured Two-Edge.
Redhead Ember: Ha ha, I remember that story! Well done!
Antonia: Welcome! Welcome! Loved your contribution and hope you'll do more!
Embala: That was brilliant. :D
Tymber: Go VINEWEAVER!!!!!! Yea! Yea! Yea! I knew they'd pull out of that trap. Now, take care of that Branchsnapper!
And take even more care of that evil Sire of the Pridewalkers!!
(and I suggested 'spring' for next month... anything from happiness to the big clean-up goes! But no death!)
Glad you enjoyed it, bukittyan!
Love the poem Red.
Great story Antonia.
Tymber nice chapter.
Embala what can I say. Love it!
Thank you everyone. Maybe I'll try againg sometime and try to be a little more creative.
Okey, now we'll see what's happening after the battle. It took me a while to write it down, but I hope you will enjoy it.
A Confused Mind
Their sleeping chamber was almost dark. The only thing that only could light up the room was the light from the moons. The beams shone from the window and up to a sleeping Louros who slept peacefully. Her lifemate regarded her as he sat in the darkness, his hands folded together under his chin and his elbows resting on his knees. The only thing that broke the silence was the calm breath from Louros, her chest moving slowly up and down. Her slender body was covered with a blanket from her feet to the chest. Her long brown hair almost shone in the moonlight.
I have to find out what’s happening with Optarh now, he thought as he still gazed at Louros, his beloved lifemate. Even that they were not recognized with each other, he felt that Louros was a part of his life. He couldn’t image another lifemate than her. She was his life.
Slowly he rose up from the bench and walked with calm steps over to the bed. He looked down at her pale face, her innocent violet eyes were shut in her peacefully sleep. Carefully he moved a brown lock from her face and kissed her gently at her cheek.
“I love you,” he whispered to her and stood up again. Slowly he put on the hood that covered his face and he moved out of their chamber. He wouldn’t dare that Louros could be hurt if she was with him. He had to protect her. But now he had to be alone for a while.
Careful and without a sound he moved quickly over the passages. He almost holds his breath as he moved and looked over from left to right. No ninjas. And The Dark Prince was not to see anywhere either. He hoped that he probably was in the throne room or in his own chambers.
He stopped at once he heard the cry from The Dark Prince. The cry rings in his ears and felt that his blood froze to ice in his veins. But he realized what had happened. Optarh had won again. He always found a way. That was Optarh.
He could probably turn around and back to Louros now, but he felt that he couldn’t. Not now. He pulled his cloak tighter around him, as if he was cold. He rose up his face, and then he began to move again and looked left and right, afraid to be discovered.
High Ones, don’t let me be discovered yet, he prayed quietly as he moved and almost started to run. Where should he be? Where could he be alone without to be disturbed or discovered?
I’m risking much now if I try to contact Optarh now, he thought as he began to run in the passages and down the stairs he could find while he fought against his internal conflict. If he didn’t do something now then The Dark Prince wouldn’t give up to avenge himself on Optarh.
But if he tried to help Optarh now in a way it could be that he never would be forgiven for that he betrayed, but it could also be a chance for forgiveness if he proved that he never betrayed Optarh after all.
I have to help Optarh from where I can. I promised myself to stop The Dark Prince before it goes too far. And there I have to help Optarh too.
He ran like he had an army of The Dark Ones or a monster at his heels. He remembered how he felt when The Dark Prince had created the monster of innocent animals. He was frightened when he saw the finished result and at the same time, sick. But at the same time he had discovered that The Dark Prince somehow had become weaker, it had cost much of The Dark Prince power to create it.
Suddenly he stopped, trying to regain his breath quiet as possible, his heart pounding wildly in his chest. He looked carefully from side to side. He was still inside in the lower part of The Shadow Mountain. This was the place where the ninjas who died were laid to putrefy. He felt sick again as he breathed in the stuffy air and the smell of death. Not exactly the best place to be alone, but he had to use it for now.
He sunk on his knees as he tried to clear his thought for all his dreams and memories. Almost, just almost he was thinking about old memories, the days when everything was peaceful until the first war against The Dark Ones. He still remembered Optarhs sad eyes when his daughter disappeared; his eyes were vulnerable and nearly filled with tears when he always were thinking about his beloved daughter. He shook his head slightly as if trying to shake his memories away and with deep concentration he forced his mind to obey. Once his spirit float free from his body, he felt like a newborn and flew far away from the reality into an unfathomable blackness.
Hawkeye almost chased Xin-Jing through the village. Their laughter from couple could barely be heard among the elves as they ran. They weren’t the only ones who was in love. Many were.
Xin-Jing felt like she was a child again, when she was chased by her ‘big brothers’. She looked over her shoulder and looked straight in the eyes to her beloved.
“Just wait till I get you,” Hawkeye laughed as he cried to her.
“We’ll see,” Xin-Jing cried back as she lifted up her skirt and tried to run faster. Hawkeye laughed and tried to catch her. But she just ran and ran, through all the elves and through the gate and out to the woods. The silence that always brought was interrupted by their careless laugh. They could only feel the love tonight as the evening had brought peace. Their world was now in perfect harmony with all the living creatures.
Hawkeye almost reached Xin-Jing as she stumbled and he crashed at her from behind and both of them rolled on the ground. Hawkeye almost landed on top of Xin-Jing when they stopped rolling and they looked at each other as they laughed and regained their breath.
“Got you,” he said after a while and looked into her eyes.
“Do you surrender?”
“Surrender,” Xin-Jing said and pulled him toward her and kissed him. He began to caress her and held her close to him while Xin-Jing tried to pull off his vest. Slowly she opened her eyes to look in his beautiful eyes, but then she turned her gaze to the side.
“Is something wrong?” Hawkeye asked confused and looked at her. Her eyes was suddenly watchful.
“I thought I saw something,” she said slowly and didn’t move her eyes.
His soul float in the darkness where the time didn’t exist, but it was urgent for him now. He had so much time. He felt that he couldn’t fly fat enough, but he also knew that his soul soon would reach Optarh.
Then he felt the presence. He knew that he was near Optarh now. Like he hadn’t been gone for so long, or that he never had left. Soon he began to call to him;
Optarh sat alone, looking toward the village while he was thinking. He couldn’t really understand that it really was over. Now they didn’t need to shed more blood. They could all live in peace now. But there was still something that made him to wonder. The fact that the ninjas just suddenly fled from the battle and left their dead, well that was probably because all the elves were too much for them. But there was also another thought that troubled him;
Why wasn’t The Dark Prince there and fought with them?
Just the thought of The Dark Prince made tremble. He hadn’t forgotten the first time he saw the change of him. But what was it that had changed him? Certainly he wouldn’t get an answer for this. He took a deep breath as he closed his eyes and let out a sigh.
He opened his eyes suddenly and looked around confused. It was a sending. But from where?
“Who…?” Optarh asked with a trembling voice before he recognized the voice and felt that the world began to spin around his head. Why? After so long time after the first war, they hadn’t any contact since he went over to the enemy. But now…?
**What do you want?** He sent in a lock sending as he shut his eyes.
**I don’t have much time, but I’m here to warn you Optarh!**
**For what?** Optarh sent and bowed his head.
**We have beaten The Dark Ones. Including the monster they had with them. We’re done with them!**
**But that is exactly what I’m trying to tell you. It is not over yet!**
Optarh felt that he had been kicked in the face. A sending could never lie. Suddenly he felt cold before he dared to send again.
**Wh… what are you meaning?**
**The Dark Prince will never give up until…**
Suddenly Optarh felt a burning pain in his left shoulder and could hear him screaming. The scream was a lingering echoes in Optarhs head that it almost felt that he had ‘gone out’ and that his soul was thrown back to the body.
A burning pain in his left shoulder that made his soul to return to the body, and soon he felt blood running down his arm and to the clothes. Just like he had cried out in the darkness, he screamed as soon he was back in his body. He might have risen up if not an arm suddenly placed around his neck so he almost couldn’t breathe.
“Out and trying to contact Optarh?” he heard a voice behind his ear. It was the voice to The Dark Prince. He stiffened once he heard his voice. He had been caught red handed. He tried to fight against his grip, but The Dark Prince only tightened the grip around his neck stronger.
The stars were shining, all the elves went to bed for the night except the eight of the nine chiefs. Topaz and Sharika had a nice contact with each other and that made Topaz to relax among the chiefs, while Arthel sharpened his sword. But even that peace got an abrupt end;
Everyone turned their heads and immediately saw Optarh stood upright as he held his head with both hands and then he fell on the ground.
“Optarh!” Erakhal cried and soon they were all with him and tried to get him to wake up. Suddenly he gasped and panted. His face was pale and the eyes were shining.
“It’s not over yet,” Optarh said with trembling voice.
“It has barely begun!”
The eight elves looked confused at each other before they gazed down at Optarh. He spoke again with trembling voice;
“The war is not over yet!”
He felt the taste of blood in his mouth and the burning pain from a dagger that slowly was dragged out of his shoulder. The blood flowed faster now from the wound. But The Dark Prince didn’t loosen the grip.
If he didn’t breathe soon, he would never see his beloved Louros again. Everything almost turned black for him now and he could almost see stars trough the darkness while the blood began to flow from his mouth.
“How stupid you have been,” The Dark Prince said behind him and placed the dagger behind at the back.
“Did you really think I wouldn’t sense that you ‘went out’?”
He had to do something. It couldn’t end like that. Not now. If only The Dark Prince could release a little bit of the grip. He could hear the laughter from The Dark Prince.
“How strange. After all that Optarh did to you, couldn’t help you from all the accusations from the others after the explosion, you still want to protect him?”
He loosened the grip as he still held the dagger at the back.
“Too bad that you not will get his forgiveness,” The Dark Prince said and almost sting the dagger in the back.
“But you will see him from the spirits sight. And perhaps see his death there.”
The elf stiffened, then bowed his eyebrows in furious.
“No,” he said, completely surprised at how calm his own voice was.
“That will never happen!”
Suddenly, with all his strength he bolted his elbows into The Dark Prince ribs, seized his tunic and threw The Dark Prince over his head. Once The Dark Prince had fallen, the elf had turned and ran as fast as he could while his cloak fluttered after him as he cried;
“I’ll never let you break Optarh. I will provide!”
As he ran he could hear the evil laughter from The Dark Prince, far behind.
“This is crazy,” Arthel roared after a few second. His voice was so high that Topaz almost kept her hands over the ears to block out his voice.
“How can you say it isn’t over?”
“It’s difficult to explain,” Optarh said while looked up at the sky.
“At first I just thought that The Dark Prince wasn’t in the fight with The Dark Ones. And that made me to wonder why.”
“Perhaps he actually was scared and let The Dark Ones do the job for him so he could hide?” Tathar said, almost facetious. He was tall as Optarh and Arthel. His hair was blond and his eyes were green.
Tathar realized that it wasn’t his best answer when all the chiefs turned their faces toward him. Their eyes said what they all thought;
“The point is,” Optarh began and all the eyes turned back to him and waited that he should continue. How should he actually explain this?
“He… actually sent to me and said it is not over. Not The Dark Prince of course, but…”
The Dark Prince? Topaz thought confused.
“He? The deceiver who went over to The Dark Prince? He sent to you?” Arthel asked and raised his eyebrows. Topaz crossed her arms over her chest. She felt uncomfortable that she didn’t know anything of this.
Oh father. Now I really wish that you were here instead of me.
A hand was placed on her shoulder and with tears, Topaz looked up at Sharika. Her eyes showed understanding and compassion.
“How do you actually know that he possibly didn’t lie to you?” Arthel asked furious.
“He betrayed you, and that can’t be forgiven.”
“I know, but you know all too well as me that a sending never lie,” Optarh said slowly.
“He seemed so honest and at the same time… scared.”
And it was like that he never had leaved at all and that I almost could touch his hand again.
Arthel was going to say something when Optarh immediately turned his face in another direction. It was a new sending, but this time not from him.
**Chief Optarh. Come to the forest immediately. Hurry!**
Soon, hidden among the trees, eleven elves looked down on the ground. Ninjas. Not many, but a few. Just four of them!
**You were right, Xin-Jing!** Optarh sent as he looked toward her.
**It seems that some of The Dark Ones is lurking here!**
He was about to look down again before he tilted his head and looked at Xin-Jing. Her dress reached now down to her hips and not to her feet like earlier in the evening.
**I tore up the dress!** Xin-Jing sent.
**It’s not easy to climb up in trees in dresses!**
**At least I recognize you now!** Optarh sent before he looked down again.
**Shouldn’t we do something? Just to get them away from the village?** Tathar sent and looked toward Optarh.
**It’s not much of them, so it wouldn’t take a long!**
**We’ll take care of that!** Optarh sent as he looked furious down at the ninjas who hadn’t discovered them yet. Then he turned over to Xin-Jing and Hawkeye.
**Once we get their attention, you and Hawkeye run back to village!**
**But…** Xin-Jing sent.
**No but. You do as I say.**
**All right, my chief!**
He turned his attention down at the ninjas again, and then he grabbed a branch and swung himself down from the trees. He strike one ninja behind its head before landed on the ground. The fight was short when Arthel joined, he grabbed two ninjas heads and slammed them together as hard as he could. Optarh beat the last ninja by to strike him under the chin with his fist.
“That was easy,” Erakhal said when it was over.
“A little too easy,” Optarh answered.
“But at least everyone is safe for now!”
“You’re worrying too much, Optarh,” Tathar said.
“I bet they never return.”
“You’ll lose that bet, I’m afraid,” Optarh said and turned his head too look back.
“But if we are prepared for the decisive match, I hope we’ll never see them again.”
This time I know it will be against The Dark Prince, Optarh thought as he looked up at the sky. Things start to happen now. But what the future would bring, no one knew it. Only the time would show.
Yay! Great new story, Cleopatra! ...worried about the war now... another epic battle coming!
OMG - it's almost May and I'm back so badly!
Nice installment, Cleopatra. The Dark Prince coming sounds so ominous... I hope everyone will be okay!
I really like this story of you Cleopatra!!
Thanks faeriegirl, bukittyan and WolfMoonSky.
Now I must hurry for the story of May.
Even your poems have epic length, TrollHammer!
I love how you managed to tell it from HIS point of view, in HIS cryptical speech due to his still twisted mind. He isn't so insane anymore - but far from being whole.
I love how you (HE) draws comparism between his treatment and metal working. Only metal seems to be true and fully understandable for him - so it's natural that he tries to explain what has happend and will happen to him in pictures taken from mining, ore, metal and forging.
Showing how he loved his mother (as well as his father) makes her betryal, her cruelness even more harrowing. Making him not only a witness but loading the guilt for his father's fate on the boy's small shoulders - that's cruel, TrollHammer! A possible, plausible plot, tho ... and one more explanation for the depth of his inner conflict. He hates the elf inside himself who has betrayed the troll - hard to mend.
Once more I'm feeling with Two-Edge, wish to learn more about his fate - hoping for a consoling end ... and the promise of a new beginning.
Great poem, Redhead! You described her perfect - from the adorable litte pest to the competitive pighead til Recognition's impact. A background pic is the least I can do ... and a traditional responsibility I hoped for more but nothing wanted to function the last weeks.
click to see full sized ... EDIT: to see anything in fact! :D
Sweet little story, Tonia I can imagine little Tyleet "treewalking", following her whim and making a discovery.
Obviously you have chosen the "caught red-handed" element for your story. And I can find "love" and "things start to happen" when I read between the lines. Maybe you try to integrate all the given elements in your next story? I'd like to see a next one!
*hhhhhhaaah ... sigh of relief* - at least half of it finished
Looking forward to read Stonehowl next ... and Cleo's of course! ... tho it's slightly longer ... *is frightened*
Awesome picture Embala!! Love it !!
Thank you Embala! I will give it another shot at some point, and need all the advice anyone and everyone can give me (please).
I love that pic (and story) Embala. Is it about Strongbow and Moonshade? It never occured to me thats who it was about till right now
Thanks for liking the background piece for Redhead's poem. Actually I wasn't satisfied with it anymore after seeing it on another screen today. Way too dark! I've changed it a bit - hope it will work even better now
We are nice folks here, Tonia. I'm sure everyone is willing to give advice if needed. Don't be shy when inspiration strikes again.
Once more - you did an awesome job with this poem, TrollHammer!
It seems both of you are confused by this couple. Summer and Bockthorn are from Mantricker's time. Their story is told by Pike in HY 20. They had two sons:
- Sprout, who actually looks like a young Strongbow!
- Sharpsight, who resembles ... guess whom?
Sometimes when I'm bored I fancy that Sprout is Strongbow's ancestor and Sharpsight is Scouter's. Nothing confirmed at all, tho.
btw: the few we know about Strongbow's and Moonshade's Recognition is shown in the same issue.
Love the pic, Embala! Summer & Buckthorn are a cute couple ^.^
Tymber! You are soooooo bad!!!!
I've never thought that Vineweaver would react like this - but you made me believe it!
- Vineweaver, all jealous and growling "the wolf in him howling wildly" - guess I like his wild side
- Spearclaw, pointing out his fighting abilities - the truth used in a braggy way. Seems so in character for him
- Echo, all trusting, confident son
- and if anyone fits for the snarky "Ya think" quote it's Windfetcher
And then you turn everything around - That was prizeless. I really wish I could have seen Branchsnapper's face the meoment when he is trapped ...
So Shadow is challenging Branchsnapper finally - logical, he has to charge, has to show his capability as a Chief.
It looks like fate is holding a quick, bad end for Branchsnapper - leaves the question how Lionheart will use the unexpected turn for his benefit.
Can't wait to learn more. This one was a fun read!
I agree with the others, Cleopatra! So Optarh's nameless friend has lost his cover finally .... no need for him to pretend devotion to The Dark Prince anymore. Hope they will meet for real soon - I love stories of friendship, false suspicion, assumed betrayal and reconciliation.
Now I've to wait for Tenderfoot's contribution ... WAIT! There's still March to read!!!!
(I looked at the story last night and I think it's Hummer and Buckthorn.Well in the english version anyway)
Tonia, you're absolutely right!!
Hummer is Summer in German
... while summer is Sommer
... and Hummer is lobster ...
äähhm - anything clear now?
Ah the Scandinavian language! Purely made to drive everybody else nuts.
*tells Cleopatra's muse to go home* (no kicking involved)
Thanks for writing and posting here, Tymber! Looking forward to the next chapter
The world was golden. The sun had risen above the horizon long ago, bathing the world in a golden hue. Light slipped through windows and trees, cracks and open doors. Lit up a dim room, encircled its hidden secrets and let them stay within the darkness. Secrets that would not withstand the finding rays of the golden sun.
Whispers in this darkness, vague movements, stranger sounds. And soft footsteps.
Outside this room, this darkness, light smiled to the world. The sun shone through the clouds sent glowing rays to earth. Trees were shrouded in a cloak of gold, ripples and flows reflected the majesty grace of the sky. The large circle, edged with a living, golden hue, transformed the world from dead surroundings and brought it back to life, dressed it in the magical robe of life.
The sun always rises, Aroree thought with a smile. But it never seems to set.
Not after Redmark came to the cloister and they befriended Skywise. After that, the sun never set. Maybe the one in the sky, but there was another sun that lit up her world every day. A sun in her life that carried her dreams, hid them in its light. Her heart would never break again, she was sure, because a heart was only broken once. Hers had been already, and though it would never grow from sorrow, it had made her stronger.
At the thought of her precious friends, Aroree closed her eyes for a brief moment, conjuring an image of the two little boys. Skywise, his wild hair with the color of white-cold, his eyes the like the sky on a cloudy day and with his trademark grin, and Redmark, his hair the color of the setting sun, his eyes the reflection of the mystical forest and with his shy little smile that could melt any heart. At this very moment, they were outside playing with the abbess. Or rather, she watched hem play. Aroree smiled. Only little Redmark could ever convince Mrs. Winnowill to come out and play.
There are many turning ways in life, she thought as she opened a door. If we could give future to all, love will conquer anything.
She slowly closed the door, silently, and a small smile crept onto her face as she sighed contently.
“What are you doing?”
Aroree gave a strangled gasp and jumped in surprise before she spun around, her heart beating rapidly, and she looked down to find little Redmark looking up at her, arms on his back and a curious and innocent look on his face.
High Ones, he is as silent as Mrs. Winnowill!
Not that she was surprised. After all, the abbess had played a great part in raising little Redmark. Aroree knew the woman had a special place in Redmark's heart, that the two of them shared a special bond she could only dream of understanding. It she had ever felt sad about it, it didn't bother her anymore. She was content with being his 'big sister' and playmate, and she had also met a new friend in Skywise, who she found she had a special connection with. It was their secret, their special bond, like the one Redmark and Mrs. Winnowill shared. Her mind was not on these bonds though, as she desperately thought of an excuse.
“Redmark!” she gasped.
“What are you doing here?”
The boy tilted his head slightly to the right and blinked, batting his long eyelashes at her. If she had not been with him his entire life, she would easily have thought that he was a girl.
“Skywise had to go home and Mrs. Winnowill must prepare the Holy room for today's prayer,” he said, then moved slightly to look behind her.
“What are you doing?”
Aroree quickly sidestepped to cover the door and gave a nervous smile.
“I... I have had a lesson with sira Ekuar.”
It was not a lie. Not the entire truth, but at least not a lie. And luckily, Redmark seemed to accept it.
“Oh,” he simply said, glancing at the floor before he looked up again.
“Do you want to play?”
Aroree smiled and took his hand.
The boys lay still under a tree as they watched Aroree go inside. Skywise, on his back with his feet on the tree trunk, looked skyward and huffed.
“Why does she always leave?” he asked.
Redmark lay on his stomach beside him and looked up, blinking.
“She has lessons with sira Ekuar,” he said, matter-of-factly.
Skywise rolled around, a frown on his face.
“The wrinkly old man? Why would she play with him instead of us?”
“Sira Ekuar is not wrinkly!” Redmark said.
“He is wise.”
Skywise dismissed the thought with a wave of his hand.
“Wrinkly, wise, same thing. He's still crazy.”
Redmark sat up with a bolt, turning to Skywise with a terrified look on his face.
“He is not!” he gasped.
Skywise glanced at him out the corner of his eye.
“Yes, he is,” he said.
“Wrinkly old man is crazy.”
Redmark shifted uncomfortably.
“He is not! He is wise!”
The white-haired child shrugged and muttered something that sounded a lot like:
“Nah, he's as crazy as a dumb troll.”
“He is not!”
“He is wise!”
“So what? He's still old!”
“But not crazy!”
The angle of Redmark's eyes sharpened just slightly, making him appear for the fraction of a second infinitely more savage, before his features once again softened. He turned away from the white-haired child with his arms crossed.
“You are just jealous,” he muttered.
With his back turned to Skywise, he did not see his eyes flash dangerously before he tackled him.
She looked around one more time, just to make sure that no one would come unannounced. No one would and she carefully smiled, closing her eyes. Tingles ran through her body and she almost gasped; she wasn’t used to this, these moments were so rare. She didn’t know if it was just herself, but it felt like the room was filled with a special warmth and light. And the ground disappeared from under her feet.
Heartily, childish laughter filled the entire open area and rolled off the walls, coming back with even greater joy. A little elf-child giggled loudly and sprinted across the garden, his chubby little legs moving so fast they were a milky blur in all the green and gray. Skywise dashed forward and made a grab for Redmark, but he ducked, his hand just brushing his shoulder. He growled as he watched his friend run away from him and gave chase yet again.
“I'll get you, you know!” he yelled with a threatening voice.
“Ya think?” Redmark called back over his shoulder, still giggling.
The nuns did not approve of Skywise's language, and they certainly did not like the fact that Redmark had seemed to take after him in his way of speaking. But young as they were, the boys did not care too much about this. And the silver-haired one was too busy trying to grab his friend, whom he had now finally caught up with. With a mighty “Rrawr!” Skywise threw himself forward and then he was on top of Redmark, who let out a girly shriek as the two of them fell to the ground.
Redmark tried to scramble away from him, a slim chance that looked grim when he felt a strong grip on his ankle. He turned around so he lay on his back and kicked out with his uncaught foot, trusting on luck to guide his foot to some vulnerable spot. A grunt told him Skywise would be walking bent over for a while. But his grip only loosened a bit. Not enough for his escape, and they ended up rolling around on the ground, trying to sit on top of the other. A shadow moved from between the pillars, a pair of green eyes were watching their play fight from the darkness. And when Skywise raised his fist to strike, a clear sign that their game had gone too far, the shadow parted from the darkness and stepped into daylight.
“Boys!” Winnowill yelled, hands on her hips and her eyes radiating with soft anger.
The fight stopped immediately and both boys turned to face her. Skywise's face was a mask of shock, like it often was when the abbess spoke to him. It was not that he wasn't used to being scolded, High Ones knew she was not the only one to do it, but just her talking to him seemed to terrify him. She had once heard him whisper to Redmark, something about her giving off the air of a dangerous animal. That was the first and only time little Redmark had ever raised his fist and the first and only punch Skywise had ever received from him. Not hard enough to cause any damage or pain, but it made his point clear enough.
No one spoke badly of his “Mama”.
Now Redmark, her little boy, he was completely different. He was a fragile little thing, all skin and bones, but somehow he still managed to radiate grace. They fed him each day, but it seemed like his body never took any nurture from it. Only energy, and that was quickly used up during all the games he played with Skywise and Aroree. Silkily hair with the color of the setting sun hung just past his little neck. It was obvious Aroree took great care of it, as it was not at matted as most of the nuns' hair. But what always went straight into Winnowill's heart, was his smile. His smile as she reached him also shone in large, round eyes the color of mystical forest.
“Will you play with us?”
She froze. Play? She? The abbess of Blue Mountain nun cloister... playing? It was unheard of. She blinked, her eyes locked with Redmark's. Everyone adored him. It was hard not to, as it was hard to say no. And she could not help but feel awkward around someone so spellbound and precious. Being so full of emotions with his feelings always written upon his face… the life he had brought into this ‘family’, … the way he never failed to make everyone smile…
… he was indeed everything she lacked.
And she would not taint him with her past, with herself. She would not let him end up like her, rip him of all the feelings he had. Because that was what would happen if she became too close to him, if she distanced from her duty as the abbess. But the way he smiled... how could she deny him such a simple wish?
“Of course,” she smiled.
His hands reached out, tan skin contrasting greatly with Winnowill's porcelain hands.
Somewhere inside the cloister, a door opened and a little head peeked out. Soft hair hung just past the shoulders, a yellow-white cream color in slightly contrast with the blue clothing. It glanced to both sides, eyes large and taking in the surroundings. When it was clear that no one was near, a little elf stepped out and quickly closed the door behind her. Aroree leaned against it and let out a sigh, sending a thankful prayer to the High Ones for letting the passage be empty.
When her racing heart had calmed down, she righted herself and moved forward, walking through the passage on muffled steps. She turned around a corner, made a route as if to go up the stairs that lead to the sleeping chambers, but stopped short. She had promised Redmark and Skywise that she would play with them after her lesson with sira Ekuar. Looking around, she could not find them though. Where were they? She made a complete turn and veered towards the door that lead to the gardens and stepped out into the sunshine.
She did not have to look for very long, although the sight that met her was not quite what she had expected. When she left the boys for her lesson, they had been playing roughly and chased each other. Normally they would not give up their game after such a short time. But it wasn't just the boys that made Aroree stare in wonder. Under one of the trees, sitting up against the slim trunk, was a lady dressed in a black robe. Mrs. Winnowill.
The abbess sat still with her left knee pulled up, a peaceful look on her face. A gentle breeze whipped the black stray locks that found their way out of her headdress.. A shadow fell across her and she looked up.
“Good day, sister Aroree,” she said and smiled brightly.
Aroree returned the smile, her blond hair flowing freely through the air.
“Good day, Mrs. Winnowill,” she said, turning her eyes on the boys.
“Pardon me, but do you know what they are doing?”
Winnowill followed her gaze and gently shook her head, smiling.
“Why do you not ask them yourself?”
The novice shrugged and turned around, walking through the grass over to where the two younger boys stood face to face. Skywise had a serious look on his face, as if he tried really hard to do something, while Redmark just stood still with his arms on his back. His red hair was slightly longer than Skywise's white, thicker and wavy. Long black eyelashes rimmed his eyes, and the green color on his tunic made his eyes look even larger. If she had not lived with him for his entire life, Aroree may very well have mistaken him for a girl. She stopped in front of them, smiled.
“What are you doing?”
Redmark looked up and smiled brightly, his face lighting up at the sight of his 'big sister'.
“We are playing a game!”
The white-haired child also looked up, and though Aroree could see joy of seeing her radiating from his eyes, there was also a feeling of disturbance.
“And you're ruining it!” Skywise scolded as he gently pushed Aroree away from the grass.
“G'way so we can continue play hide and seek!”
This made the young novice stop and Skywise blundered into her with a soft “Mpfh!”. He pushed himself away from her and looked up with a small frown, as if accusing her for stopping just like that.
“Hide and seek?” Aroree said.
“But Redmark, you are not even hiding!”
Little Redmark put a finger to his lips.
“Shh. He has not found me yet.”
The confused look on Aroree's face just made their day.
Ekuar waved Aroree off and closed the door behind him after yet another lesson ended. He smiled as he watched her bounce through the passage, her blue dress dancing with her hair. He shook his head and chuckled, turning the other way. She was a special child, that one, and she did exactly as he told her to. He was glad she took her responsibility seriously and with great care, especially with her past and all. She really understood how serious this was. The old priest stopped in front of the library and pushed the door open, stepping inside and closing it behind him. Then frowned. He thought he had put of the candles after his last visit. If the abbess caught him forgetting something like that, as expensive as candles were, she would surely punish him. He took a few steps forward, then stopped.
Little Redmark was sitting at one of the desks, his elbows on the table and his chin resting in the palms of his hands. His feet were dangling to and fro, his eyes glued to the scroll in front of him. Ekuar smiled. Redmark always finished his duties quickly, especially reading Latin scrolls. Luckily he had taken an interest to the latter and could often be found reading these scrolls. He almost chuckled at the thought of how defeated the child had been only a year ago when the priest pulled out a Latin scroll. Now he read them freely. Ekuar shook his head, walking past the child. He smiled, glanced down at the scroll.
The words screamed at him and he recognized them immediately as the cloister's great secret. A forbidden scroll. And the child was sitting there with his nose in it. Fear clawed at his heart and in a desperate attempt to keep the secret, he reached out to take it, but was frozen when Redmark turned to him and stared, wide-eyed. The priest almost didn't dare meet Redmark's eyes. He knew what he would find there. And when he locked eyes with the child, he found he was right. Redmark expected him to do something, to say something, to leap valiantly to his defense. To tell him this wasn't true. The child's mind uttered a silent scream, pleading for it not to be true. And Ekuar wished to make all this not true, not real. To stop the silence surrounding them, bringing with it a whisper that he wished to turn to dust and ashes. A whisper that brought up past events, lies, discoveries, rumors... He felt his muscles bunch and tighten with tension, felt them become a coil of energy. He was ready to lash out and tear his past apart if need be...
And found he could not.
Ekuar, of course, wouldn't be able to. Wouldn't be able to tell him a lie, to do something. And he would tell Redmark that, with his eyes, and the child would lose all hope, all faith in his beloved priest, his friend. He would submit to defeat and Ekuar would feel like less than dirt, less than a scrap of paper burned to ash and crushed beneath the heel of an outlaw before scattering with the wind. It suddenly felt like someone had ripped his heart out, stomped on it and dropped it into his empty chest.
It would be easier not to look.
But Redmark was only a child.
Someone once said that truth only comes with children and drunk people.
And now this child would hear the truth.
His time for action was close to used up. He could tell from the heightened tension, as if everyone in the cloister were holding his breath.
“You should not have seen this,” Ekuar muttered and dragged a hand across his face.
For a moment, Redmark's mind went blank as a snowdrift, and the priest's words were able to seep in. There was a small frown on his face, but whether it was fear or anger that caused it, he did not know.
“Magic is forbidden!” the child whispered.
The old elf just continued to stare and Redmark held his look. His skin tightened, the hairs on his body stood on end. His blood ran swift and cold in his hot veins. He tensed, his breath caught. Sira Ekuar had always taken care of him, had always been supportive. Why wasn't he now? Shouldn't he be? He didn't know, but he thought he was supposed to. Why did a part of him scream that the old priest was the enemy? Who was he really?
Tears welled up in his eyes. Was he crying? Yes. Why? Was he in pain? Yes. Yes, he was, but it was different from when he stumbled and hurt his knee. It spoke not of physical pain it a different pain. Two sets of heartbeats echoed in the silent room. This was what the priest was supposed to be doing, to calm him down and tell him it wasn't true. To hug him close, lay his head under his old neck and rub his back soothingly like a baby and his mother, like Aroree and Mrs. Winnowill did. He listened to their heartbeats. This was what he was supposed to be doing. Comforting him. Loving him. He loved this old man like he loved Aroree, Skywise and Mrs. Winnowill.
So why was he scared?
He sat beside his protector. The protector causing him to hurt. The protector comforting him from what he was causing. He was so confused. Redmark pursed his lips and looked away, desperately trying to stop the tears. His eyes trailed along the floor and over to the wall, resting on the door. Ekuar followed his gaze and immediately understood what he had in mind. The second Redmark twitched, Ekuar was ready. The child moved to jump off the chair, but the priest beat him to it, catching his wrist before his feet even touched the ground.
“No!” he said and Redmark looked up at him with wide eyes.
Ekuar reached out to stroke Redmark's hair, but the child kept looking at him with those eyes. With fear, confusion and... anger? Disgust? He looked like he wanted to say something, but the words never left his lips. Instead he looked away, his eyes trailing along the floor.
“Child,” Ekuar sighed.
The child did not look up, did not give any sign that he had heard his voice. Blood drained from his old face and Ekuar had to close his eyes to keep from collapsing. Redmark had been taught to always obey when called. That he deliberately refused to now, only proved how confused he was, how hurt. The priest reached out and gripped his tiny jaw, carefully, and forced him to look at him.
“Do you trust me?” he asked.
Redmark didn't answer. His lower lip quivered, unfallen tears clinging to his long eyelashes.
The child stared for another moment, then slowly, doubtfully, nodded. Ekuar sighed and pulled the little one onto the chair again before he knelt by it.
“Listen, my child. You cannot forbid something that is everywhere.”
Redmark blinked at him, thoughtful and confused, but chose not to speak as the priest continued.
“Magic is when the sun goes up and night gives way to daylight. Magic is the mild winds caressing your face on a warm summer day. Magic is everything, what keeps us alive.”
He paused, locked eyes with the child.
“Life itself is magic.”
He stopped, reached out his wrinkly old hand and let it fall on Redmark's shoulder.
“The day you came into this world was magic.”
Redmark, having paid attention to him all this time, averted his eyes. He glanced at the scroll, his small fingers tracing the letters.
“If everything is magic,” he slowly mumbled.
“Then why are these scrolls hidden?”
“Because not everyone are able to see the magic that surrounds them.”
Green eyes locked with brown.
“Do you have to be magical to see it?”
“No, but to use it, you must be.”
A sudden need filled the child, Ekuar saw. The boy wanted to leave, but his newfound secret was still interesting.
“Come,” he said and held out his arm.
“Let us go. I believe sister Aroree is looking for you.”
Redmark looked up at him, that clear, green look, and nodded. He crawled down from the chair and took his hand, letting himself be led out.
“What was the scroll about?” he asked as they moved to the door.
“Nothing of your interest, little one,” Ekuar answered.
“If it is not, I will not care about it anymore.”
The child stopped, looked up with large eyes and pulled at his wrinkly hand.
“Tell me,” he pleaded.
Ekuar let out a huff of a sigh, angry with himself that he could not resist that doe look.
“It explained a spell for how to lock doors.”
“Is it not what we have keys for?”
The priest choked on a chuckle.
“Yes, but if you do not have a key, it would come in handy.”
They walked out of the library and Redmark gained a concentrated look, deep in thoughts.
“Ahr Mortha,” he whispered.
Ekuar let go of the small hand and waved him away, then turned around to lock the door.
Only to find it closed.
The priest frowned. What? How...?Slowly, he glanced over his shoulder to look at Redmark's retreating back. He didn't seem to have noticed. Ekuar frowned, deep in thought as he watched the child walk away. Could it be more with that child than he had thought?
Yay new Tenderfoot story!! *starts to read*
...darnit, gotta go! Busy day!! Will return asap to read!
I love it! It's such a pleasant chapter- but such an ominous title! And best use of crrrraaaazzzyy so far. Please keep writing more!
Omg! I surrender!! Presentation was too boring, I read story instead! Love it!!! Ofcourse little Redmark has magic!
I love it!! It's an awesome story!!!!
Tymber is right, Startear ... all elements in one month's story is the rule and the challenge. It feels wrong when one of us does only '"half of the work".
But when you will practice with the grab-bags - how about opening your own thread? Taking the elements as inspiration? Using what's possible for you right now? And when you have a story complete repost it in the grab-bags?
faeriegirl proves right now that it's never too late to add to the grab-bags ... as Tymber did before.
Yup... trying my hand at grab-bags of a full year ago! Never too late to add!
Tenderfoot! Love the way you got the crrrrrrrrrrazy included!
And in my defence, Tymber did say that I could be creative with it...
Yeeeeees! Take that canoneers!
I love it! Pure insanity!
Thank you, Vojira! I'm glad that I'm not the only one who feels that stabbing the canoneers is neccesary from time to time.
You know, it was supposed to be a Cutter/Winnowill but recognition doesn't work like that. It's an odd thing *nods*
Oh. My. GAWD!!!! now there's a new twist.... LOL!
Actually, with it being Treestump makes it work a 1000 times better then with Cutter. With Treestump, it's completely unexpected!
You're probably right
Very funny, I like it. Thank you Startear
OMG!!! Startear I love it
Embala... I don't know if your muse wants to, but my muse wonders if your muse can make a picture of Treestump and Winnowill's recognition... can you ask her?
Wonderful story, Tenderfoot. You started to bring up lots of secrets once more. And your describtion of the boy, especially little Redmark, is heartwarming and touching as always.
And I have to agree to the others - the boys' crosstalk and use of "crazy" is exquisite.
*lol* You are good for crazy stories and totally unexpected twists for sure, Startear! And being creative with the elements is good. *wonders whether the whole story is meant for one element ... adding the readers mental comment "Crrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrazy!"*
Hey ... unfair! Want to learn about this insider gag, too!
Reke means "shrimp" in Norwegian XD
And Sjung means Sing in Swedish
... and that's very appropriate for Birdcall
I know XD
That was amazing. Reke og Sjung. Sooooo perfect.
Mayonaise. In Norwegian. Everybody who eats shrimp in this country eats it with their mayo. I don't eat shrimp
Wonderfol idea indeed!! LOL!
Um, okay... I saw what happened after the last one, so I guess a warning should come with this one: Don't get involved in paint wars with these elves, okay? Now, on with the story!
No such thing as help
Two pair of large eyes stared at the girl in front of them, blinked. Watched as her fingers attacked the keyboard, ran over it and produced words after words. Green eyes locked with deep blue and the oldest's gained a worried look. It had been like this for days. Their new friend would get up at sunrise and leave for this strange building she was forced to go to. The “skull” they thought she had called it, and she always brought the thing she wrote on. At mid-day she would come back, eyes distant and her mouth frozen in a pout, and she would lash out verbally at anyone who dared to say a word to her, before she would sit down with the writer-thingy. And there she sat for the rest of the day, only leaving for fighting with her friends. Martial arts, she called it, but they doubted that was true. When returning, she would continue to write until the sun was long gone and she was forced into bed again. Eyes looked her up and down, then locked again. She rarely ate. And she was skinny.
Toron and Sturkas shared looks, shrugged. They wanted to help too, but how? They didn't know how to fix food in the human world, and they doubted she would appreciate it if they hunted. She had not been too fond of their traps, but she had had to admit that they were pretty useful to chase away the senior upper-levels that had tried to kidnap her. But they had tried to fix her human food, once. It never happened again. Tenderfoot had said that their sausages were so boiled to pieces that they were more reminiscent of Hungarian Goulash! Whatever that was...
And they had no clue how to work the 'puter'. All the buttons looked the same to them. The one time they had been allowed to try, they had only touched one single button when the screen went all black on them. They immediately thought they broke it and feared Tenderfoot's wrath (High Ones have pity on the poor souls that had to endure it), but she said they hit the 'off' button and that they didn't break it. To them, though, off and broke were the same thing. The screen was black regardless.
Now they saw her type on the 'puter again, with the small scowl she always got when she did. Cleopatra told them it was her 'thinking face', but Toron and Sturkas didn't think so. They thought it seemed more like she was trying to resist something. Or someone. Yes, they were sure there were some strange creatures like aliens in the 'puter, trying to suck Tenderfoot into the white screen.
That would explain why the screen was always black when they and Eros got on, but white when Tenderfoot did. The aliens wanted the intelligent one. They chose her.
The elves shared looks, knowing that as long as they were in the room, the aliens wouldn't dare to do anything. Toron reached out and patted the little cat, curled up on the bed next to him. Corazón was her name, Spanish for “heart”. She rolled over to her back and purred slightly. Toron smiled and scratched her behind the ears when he caught movement out the corner of his eye. Looking up, he saw Sturkas gesturing widely at the 'puter. He turned his eyes on it, and then he saw it too. Tenderfoot was leaning into it!
Both elves locked eyes before they jumped off the bed and ran to the authoress' side, looking fearfully up at the 'puter. Maybe if they saw the two of them, they would go away.
It was at this moment that I noticed that the two elves were still with me. I turned my head and glanced at both sides, seeing them stand with their feet spread and arms crossed, glaring at my computer.
“Uhh... what are you doing?” I asked.
“We're protecting you,” Toron said.
I raised an eyebrow and shook my head.
“Protecting me? From my computer?”
“Yeah,” Sturkas said.
“The 'puter. And the evil things inside it.”
Okay, I must have hit my head really hard during the night (or my fight with Sturkas). Now I was really confused. I scratched my head.
“You talking about the radiation?”
“Aha!” both elves snapped and pointed at the computer.
“So we were right! There is something in there that wants to hurt you!”
I shook my head and groaned. God, this was gonna be a long night.
Toron balanced on his toes with his arm stretched upwards, waving it slightly. His tongue stuck out through his lips at the left side of his face and his brows were contorted in effort.
“You don't think she would mind, do you?” Sturkas asked from behind.
Toron glanced over his shoulder at his younger 'brother', his visible green eye shining. Sturkas was seated on the bed, his right leg pulled up and his arms wrapped around it, while his left leg hung over the edge. His large blue eyes were sparkling and he blinked.
“Probably not,” Toron said and returned to his task.
“She did say we could do justice to it.”
He moved his arm, stretched his fingers as far as they would go. Then “Hah!” and he jumped back down, prize collected in his left hand. He held it over his head, grinning.
Sturkas moved his hand in a circling motion.
Toron threw the bag over to his 'brother', who caught it with one hand and tore it open with the other. He withdrew his hand a few seconds later, filled with the contents of the bag, while Toron sat down beside him. Sturkas looked up at him, smiled.
“Pork rind,” Toron accepted.
They had not even eaten one third of the bag when a sound came from above. They looked skyward, then shared looks. Then waited.
And winced. A door on the upper floor had been slammed open. Not so unknown stomping came closer, thudding down the stairs. The sound had become quite familiar, and they knew what waited them.
The door was torn open and a thoroughly pissed-off me walked inside, my light brown school bag hanging over my right shoulder. My blue pants reached me to just underneath my now revealed scraped knees, and my ocean toned top made a stark contrast to the pale skin. On my feet was a pair of sneakers that used to be white. Emphasis on used to. I also had white stockings, making my long, thin legs look even longer and thinner. I guess it could almost look like a storm cloud was hanging over my head, as my usually wavy blond hair was pushed into a droopy fashion, obviously matching my eyelids and mood. A pout was plastered on my face and my eyes burned, clear and smooth, sparkling blue flecked with black fire. But it was not the look in my eyes that caught the elves' interest.
It was my face, decorated with fuzzy black marker eyebrows and mustache.
Toron and Sturkas blinked.
Then began laughing so hard tears were soon running down their cheeks. Great, they had only had to take one look at me before they burst and fell down on my bed, and now they were completely helpless with laughter. While they struggled to maintain their composure, I shot them a hateful glare and dropped my school bag, not bothering to put it in its rightful place. With my left hand I tried to rub the marks off, but my skin was already red from before and this only brought more pain. So instead I returned to glaring daggers at the two elves.
“It's not funny!” I snapped.
“N-no, sure,” Toron gasped as he tried to sit back up.
Sturkas hugged his stomach with one hand and wiped away tears with the other one.
“What happened to you?” he hiccuped.
“It looks like you've been run over by one of those honky-wonkies!”
I stuck out my tongue, and turned my back on them, my arms crossed over my chest.
“That's cars,” I said, my voice thick and failing me.
The elves suddenly stopped laughing and shared looks. Having lived with me for so long, I guess they knew me well enough to know when I was not feeling well. Toron slid off the bed and came over to me, placed a hand on my shoulder.
“Hey,” he said, his voice low and calm.
“Nothing,” I choked.
“Are you crying?”
I bit my lip, not trusting my voice, and shook my head. Then I felt his hand on my arm and I was turned around, looking into his deep, understanding, green eyes. The wall fell.
“The senior upper-levels got me,” I said, wiping away the tears (thank God they had used a waterproof marker!).
“You mean those we caught last week?” Sturkas asked from my bed as he too slid down and came over.
“Why would they do something like this?”
I shrugged and let myself be pulled gently down on my chair by Toron, who seated himself next to me on my desk. Sturkas reached into my drawer and pulled out some handkerchiefs (Hey, it's allergy season! I have plenty of those!), handing one to Toron, who started to gently wash my face with it. Tear stricken as it was, they needed no water.
“It's tradition,” I said.
“They always try to paint the younger students in the face.”
“That's stupid,” Sturkas muttered as he reached up and wiped my face.
“True, but they've always done it.”
“But what's up with taking people?” Toron asked.
“Why would they try and kidnap you?”
“Also tradition,” I said and winced as one of them touched a sore spot under my right eyes.
“The senior upper-levels form groups and make a bus with a theme. Then they kidnap people and keep them hostages for the day.”
“Unbelievable,” the redhead muttered and shook his head.
Sturkas looked up at me, tilting his head to the side.
“You didn't go down without a fight, right?” he asked.
A smile tugged at the corner of my lips.
“No,” I said.
“When they took me outside school, I fought with teeth and claws.”
Toron looked up.
“But you don't have-”
I held up my hand, feeling another smile come to my face as his eyes rounded.
“'kay,” he muttered and returned to gently removing the black marks in my face.
“How did they get you?” Sturkas asked.
I looked down, fidgeted with the hem of my top. Sighed, brushed away a stray lock.
They knew when to strike. Had known ever since they started studying their routines, their preys. Even though it had been difficult, they had almost reached their goal. Almost. And they would this day, provided that there weren't any changes in the plan. Their preys weren't much different from their earlier ones, just that there was something about some of their moves that were a bit off. But whatever happened, they would succeed this day. They wouldn't wait any longer. And they didn't have to.
A door opened and someone walked through it, shoulders slunk, and the shadows parted. A shadow peered through the dark fog, slowly. Moved cautiously, soundlessly, fluidly. Moved closer to the other shade, a girl, who with her back turned to the shadows did not see anything. She sighed softly, kicked at a small stone. The girl knew the route so well that she hardly had to look up when she crossed the street.
Which was probably what did her in, really.
The shadow, now revealed as a boy, stole up behind her, hands raised, but the girl heard him in that last second and she raised her head, frowning. Hands planted themselves on her back and gave her a firm shove, causing her to yelp stumble forwards, though she managed to catch herself before falling. Or rather, someone else did. The girl grunted as she collided with something soft, yet solid, and felt hands wrap around her wrists. She slowly opened her eyes, blinked and focused, then glanced upwards and found a boy staring down at her. A crooked grin revealed yellowish teeth and the red cap on his head, along with his dirty, red, baggy pants, only confirmed her fears.
The senior upper-levels.
The shadow behind her stared, object in hand, as the girl spun her head around. The object... a marker. A black marker. And out from the shadows came more boys, everyone dressed in the same red pants and wearing the same caps. They surrounded her, the girl. The boy with the marker got the impression of large startled blue eyes and a mouth rounded in terror. The one who held her carefully stifled the soft cry by covering both with one hand. An evil grin and the marker came closer.
And then the girl's body moved on its own, she wriggled out of the grip and her fist lashed out and connected with someone's nose. A crunch and a grunt told her his nose would be bent the other way for a while. Her other fist shot out, punched the marker away and the boy took a step backwards, shock evident on his face. The girl spread her legs, stood on the balls of her feet, fighting stance ready with fists closed. Her eyes swept over the open area. Senior upper-levels. Six of them. All boys. Coincidence? Or ambush? Her fingers flexed, her feet rubbed against the asphalt, getting ready to run.
Then arms grabbed her from behind, encircled her, and a boy with slightly longer hair than the rest came at her up front. Another black marker was pulled out and and the boy holding her grabbed her neck, squeezing tight. Something broke through the soft, delicate and sensitive skin there. There was a sharp intake of breath from the girl and she yelped.
“Haaah!” she wheezed, squeezing her eyes tight shut.
The boy with the marker smirked. The girl let out an animalistic growl, revealing white and very, very sharp teeth, and pried her eyes open. She used the arms holding her to hoist herself up and planted her feet in the long haired's chest, sending him flying. The boy crashed backwards, landing on his back. The girl smirked, wriggled loose and kicked backwards so that her attacker wouldn't be able to grab her again.
She crouched and leaped to the left, barely escaping an outstretched arm, and touched the skin at her neck. Trickles of blood. What had they hurt her with? Injected her with? She would have to worry about that later. Meanwhile she would stand her ground, continue to fight as long as she was standing. She was known for her fighting skills, namely moves she had learned from her Master that often proved to be useful. But despite this, her efforts were futile. She was drained for energy. Three boys came at him at the same time. She bared his white fangs, growled. Cowards, had to go six on one. And they were older too. Boys.
Then she felt a pull at her top and she stumbled backwards, the three boys taking the opportunity to jump at her. Two grabbed her arms, a third her middle, a fourth seized her legs while someone put pressure on her head to keep her still. She growled and tried to kick out, wriggled her hands to get loose. No use. They held her down and the sixth boy, still standing, advanced. He bent down and encircled her uncomprehending body. The girl tried to pull away, stiffened, but the older and stronger boy held her wiggly body still. An object hovered over her head.
A black marker.
There was a cut on her forehead that the boys had not seemed to notice. If they did, they simply chose to ignore it. As soon as the marker touched her skin, she jerked. Black mixed with red and the boy made himself comfortable. Strange black liquid infiltrated her bloodstream. As a result her head lit up, then died, and her body followed, as instant and complete as if the next beat of her heart had simply shot the chemical into every single vein. Exhaustion flooded through her body and stars danced in front of his eyes. She sobbed. Where there had been dizziness, she now felt a moment of splitting pain and she heard the sound of a marker clattering on the ground. Then the stars exploded, red tinted her vision and everything went black.
The truly successful ambushes weren't stand-offs of fights. They were one strike, and then they were done.
“As I said, they took me outside school. One of them came up to me with the marker in his hand, but I punched it away.”
“Heh, you should've seen their looks when they grabbed me and I kicked out and hit one of them in the crotch (Hey, it was his fault! He stood in the way)! He went down like a log!”
Both elves snickered at the thought.
“It... turned into a fight, and I think one of them is missing a tooth. At least it's chipped. In the end I was held down by five boys while a sixth started drawing in my face.”
Sturkas stared at me in disbelief.
“And you just let him?”
I closed my eyes and therefore I did not see Toron nudge him and send him an angry glare.
“Of course not,” I said and unclosed my eyes.
“I spat him in the face and pulled my arm free so I could punch him too. The others were so shocked that they let go of me, so I got up and ran.”
Wry smiles tugged at the two elves' lips and I carefully smiled back when Sturkas patted my back.
“See, I knew you could do it,” he said.
“Knew it all along.”
I snorted and opened my mouth to offer my opinion, when my eyes fell upon the clock on my nighstand. LATE! my mind screamed at me. My eyes turned wide.
I immediately stood up, unknowingly knocking Toron's hand away as he tried to clean my face, and grabbed the bag by my bed.
“I gotta go,” I said and made a bee-line for the door.
“Training starts in half an hour and I have two classes to instruct!”
With my back turned towards them, I didn't see Sturkas reach his hand out for me, his mouth open and ready to call my attention, or that Toron clasped his hand around the younger's wrist and frowned, successfully stopping him from saying whatever it was he wanted to say.
“Don't,” he mouthed silently.
Sturkas shot him a bewildered glare.
“What?” he mouthed back.
He turned his head in time to see Tenderfoot close the door and heard her thumping gradually fade away. Then, knowing she wouldn't be able to hear him, he locked eyes with Toron again.
“Have you lost you mind?” he spat.
“She's gonna kill us!”
“She won't notice.”
“There is a wall full of mirrors in her dojo!”
“And you think she won't notice?”
“At least we won't be there for her to blame.”
Sturkas's frowned and glanced at his brother out the corner of his eye.
“You know what you are?”
Toron looked at him expectantly and Sturkas made a circling motion by his temple with one finger.
The older elf frowned and crossed his arms.
“And how am I crazy?” he asked, sounding highly offended.
Sturkas stared at his 'brother', as if he was wondering who changed their manuscripts, suddenly dumbfounded. Then he groaned and smacked his forehead, looking out from between two of his fingers.
“Seriously,” he said.
“Whadda ya think she'll say when she discovers that the marker wasn't waterproof and finds her face all smudged black?”
Two pair of large eyes watched in interest as a rather skinny girl swung past them. They watched as her long blond hair danced along with the rest of her, watched how she attacked the floor with something reminiscent of a bõ-staff. But they listened more than watched. Listened to her voice, to the strange and foreign words that came out of her mouth.
“Sun sajjan tera ki jaye ga
Ik bangla jo banwa de ga
Mujhe jo chudi kangna lake naulakha pehna de ga.”
I took a spin by the piano, successfully slapping Corazón on her rump and receiving a hiss in return.
“Dheere dheere chori chori kab yeh sach kar jaye ga
Haye oye sajjan tera ki jaye ga
Haye oye sajjan tera ki jaye ga.”
I paused to shake the dust off the mop, humming slightly as I did so, but went back to singing as soon as the mop touched the floor. But now my 'cute' voice had changed to a slightly deeper tone, more adultly.
“Chikini chikini sathiya
Dil de na chikini mahia
Qadmon mein mere rakh de dils
Jogi oh jogi main qatil.”
I smiled, tightened the hold on the mop and swung again, my mouth opened to let out the next words. Though instead of offering soft tones, I gave a shriek of surprise and jumped about three feet in the air as I found two pair of eyes, green and blue, staring at me.
“No, no, don't stop!” Sturkas pleaded.
“We liked it!”
“The Hell!?” I spat and threw the mop away, hands glued to my hips.
“What are you two doing up here?”
The two elves raised their eyebrows and blinked at me, then slowly turned to exchange glances. Hn, as if they couldn't understand why I was mad.
“You didn't come back after you went to the “skull”,” Toron began, uneasy.
“So we wanted to see if everything was alright.”
My eyes widened slightly before I palmed my face and mumbled into my hand. Then I looked back up to the two elves in front of me.
“I told you; no leaving my room while I'm not here. You know that even though the rest of my family may not be in the house, my grandmother is always home.”
I had walked over to the mop to pick it up again, but now my eyes were on my (sometimes) unwanted guests.
“And she always hears what I don't want her to hear,” I whispered.
Sturkas looked sincerely upset and sad that he had probably made me mad with him, stupid kid he was, while Toron merely nodded his head and walked closer.
“Hey, listen, I know keeping us hidden can be difficult for you, but we are ninjas. We can take of ourselves. With you, it's different. We made Cleopatra a promise to watch you whenever she's not around.”
I had to fight the urge to palm my face again. Typical my big sister, who could never stand the thought of me getting hurt. But seriously, this was going too far! Sadly, I had no way of expressing this as Toron continued on with his little (strange) speech (did he even know what he was saying? Didn't make any sense to me), seemingly unaware of the way my eyes suddenly began to twitch.
“We only wish to protect you, and if someone get too close, we will. For it does not matter what you are or what you can do.”
He placed a hand on my shoulder.
“It's who you are.”
I gazed into Toron's green eyes for a moment, resisting the urge to ask him what the hell he meant. By the looks Sturkas was giving him, it seemed like my blue-eyed friend shared my thoughts. My eyes narrowed. Toron blinked. I squinted at him. Sturkas grinned nervously. I scowled.
“That was so touching, Toron.”
Toron sighed. The sarcasm in those words was enough to blow the Dark Prince off a cliff.
“But I don't need protection from you guys,” I said and turned around.
“Besides, you don't need to help me with the stories either; I've stopped writing.”
Now, that was enough to draw their attention and there was a sharp intake of breath from the two of them. Sturkas threw himself to the floor and onto his knees, wrapping his arms around my legs, his face upturned and he gave me those infamous puppy dog eyes of his.
“No, please!” he pleaded.
“Don't stop! Then Cleopatra will send us back to the others and Toron will go all bossy on me again!”
Then, as an afterthought, he added: “And your stories are too good to be left unread!”
I gave a weird look and turned my eyes on Toron, who tried to keep from smiling.
“He shouldn't be able to pull that look off anymore,” I remarked dryly.
Mission don't-smile; Incompleted. Toron's mouth twitched into a grin and he shrugged. I only shook my head and then gave my legs as much of a little shake I could. This only resulted in Sturkas clinging tighter to me. I shook my legs again (if I could call it shaking), suggestively, hoping he would take the hint. He didn't.
“You seem to have acquired a passenger,” Toron remarked, a smug grin on his face.
He wasn't offering to alleviate the situation and I snorted playfully at him.
“Nah, what makes you think so?”
Then I bent down and tried to pry Sturkas off my legs. I succeeded in freeing only one leg. With a small huff I began dragging Sturkas across the living room, hoping to shake my new attachment off. No use. Oh wait-! No, forget it. I looked up to Toron, who stood just off to the side and followed us with his gaze.
“A little help here?” I called.
But Toron only shook his head and smirked, crossing his arms in front of his chest.
“I can't,” he said.
“He's under strict orders to not let go until you agree to start writing again.”
I had reverted my eyes to my passenger, but now they snapped up to the captain again and I stared.
“Is that right?” I asked, my voice low and (hopefully) dangerous.
Both Toron and Sturkas nodded their heads. I sighed, the heavy sigh of someone with the weight of the world on their shoulders.
“You do realize that if he continues to hang onto me like this, I won't be able to do anything,” I said.
“And then I'll have to keep pushing writing that story back more and more and more...”
I let the threat hang in the air, as both Toron and Sturkas' eyes widened. My inner self grinned a vicious smile. Apparently, they had not thought of that. Which didn't surprise me at all, considering that they were males. Males rarely thought. Sometimes I wondered if they even had brains... eh, enough of that. I blinked a couple of times, successively turning my eyes to a sparkling blue, reminiscent of a baby fallow deer.
“But maybe you two would agree to help me with a few things?” I asked, keeping my voice light and laced with the sticky sweetness that often came with children.
“Because then I could probably continue with the story as soon as...”
I tapped my chin a few times, acting as if I was deep in thought. It worked. Green and blue eyes were glued to mine, their attention all directed to me. Heh, I should do this more often! They looked as though they were about to worship me!
“Oh, I don't know... say... tonight, maybe?”
The arms that were wrapped around my leg not even a second ago, were currently squeezing all air out of me.
“Whatever you need!” Sturkas said.
“We are your elves. You name it, we're on it. Just please, please, please make the snarling beast that is currently you go away!”
Seeing my eyes bulge and realizing what was suddenly said, Toron sprinted over and wisely pried Sturkas off before I could get my hands around his delicate neck.
I can't recall the exact words I used, nor my actions or what I looked like. But when bad words can't even begin to explain how mad you are... I guess that pretty much says it.
I was better off this time. At least I knew exactly what was going to happen. Didn't make it any easier to write, but as I said, better than last time. Now, if only my plot bunny would leave me be so I could finish one story before I started on another... As if on cue, I felt a poke on my shoulder and the CD-player switched song. And as the sweet tones of Sissel Kyrkjebø's song “Kjærlighet” (and for those of you who don't understand Norwegian, it's “Love”) filled my room, I could suddenly see all this stuff happening. Ideas. Many. Bright.
“WAIT!” I cried.
“Wait, brain! Wait for me to open a new page!”
Someone must have been watching me this day (ew, creepy), because the computer did not do as it should have done. It waited for me. And chip-heap's law number one is 'never obey Tenderfoot', so yeah, it shouldn't have done that. Didn't keep me shocked for long though, as my fingers continued their assault on the keyboard. My brows were furrowed, there was no trace of a smile, but I was as happy as a child who had found a long lost toy. So happy, in fact, that thinking of the elves' earlier ingratiating brought a smile to my face. They had tried so hard to please me... and failed miserable.
“Keep the courtesies short, Sturkas,” I had said when the elf in question had gone as far as to offer to give Corazón a bath.
“I still haven't forgotten about your punishment.”
I didn't want them doing things they had no clue about. That, and the fact that if he wanted to keep his hands, he would lay off my cat. Now, this did not bring a smile to my face, but it failed to remove it. That was, until the buzzing sound that had been so kind to stay low and in the background the past half hour, now increased in volume and infiltrated my ears. I think my nervus statoacusticus (or vestibulocochlear nerve or cranial nerve VIII... oh, the things I know) was crushed, because suddenly my vision went black and my head tipped dangerously to the side. I quickly came to and, carefully, turned my head around to direct my Death Glare of Doom at the source of my sudden dizziness; Sturkas. Though upon seeing him with a sour expression and his hands around the vacuum cleaner, looking sorely tempted to strangle it, I could do nothing but smile a smile so big it nearly threatened to split my face in half. Seated on my bed was my elder sisters Rainflower and Cleopatra, both sharing my expression.
“Will you get better access if I move my legs?” my eldest sister asked, voice laced with sticky sweetness.
Sturkas, whose mother was born a pacifist, allowed himself to glare daggers at her.
“Why are you even doing this?” my middle sister asked while keeping her legs up.
“Is this your punishment?”
Sturkas face brightened and he immediately turned to me.
“Is this our punishment?” he hopefully asked.
My answer was a very flat and definite “No.”
His face fell.
“You are only helping me with keeping schedule. I still have to talk with Cleopatra before deciding what your punishment would be.”
Sturkas pouted (that kid) and went back to work while grumbling. I only chuckled and turned back to the computer to finish what I had started. But I had only written about four or five sentences when an irritable voice butter in and disturbed my thoughts.
“I do hope you will be finished soon.”
I turned, a little (yeah, right!) speech already planned and opened my mouth to remind the nuisance that as long as I was writing, he would have to keep his mouth shut. It dropped open, same with my sisters'. Same with Sturkas. Because there stood Toron, in all his Elven glory, with a frilly pink apron around his waist and duster in his hand, looking perfectly serious.
Then began laughing hard (I had only ordered him to use the duster, who had forced that outfit on him? And why didn't they get Sturkas a matching hat while they were on it?), and I mean hard. In fact, so hard that tears were soon running down my cheeks, because this was too much… and because this only conjured other mental pictures, which again led me to envision Rayek with that apron around him and... and... Regardless to say, I was rendered helpless for a couple of minutes while trying to maintain my composure. His cold glare did nothing to alleviate the situation either and because his gaze passed me seemingly unnoticed, he gave himself the permission to glare at me.
“Why do you even let them touch your room?” Rainflower asked.
“What do you have against them doing it?” I asked, not bothering to look at her.
“Nothing, it's just... rational people don't mix elves and cleaning.”
“Well, I'm not rational.”
I took a spin in my chair.
“Besides, I like it that way.”
“Yeah, I know,” Cleopatra said.
“Thus, I can say Toron and Sturkas are doing this especially for you. Why do they do that? Are they so conspicuously begging for your forgiveness?”
Said elves shared glances in the background.
“Nah,” I replied.
“Just wanted to get mom stop nagging about me never cleaning my room.”
Then I turned around in my chair and my eyes fell upon the elves in question.
“After you've finished that, you can make the bed and remove the books from my closet.”
I turned again and Toron began twisting his eyeball daggers into my back.
“Can she do that?” Sturkas said in a course whisper to his older brother.
“I can, and I am,” I said, taking a bite out of an apple.
“You weren't supposed to hear that,” he said, casting me a sideways glance.
This earned him a glare from me and snickers from my sisters.
Almost done. Now, how to finish? Hm... Oh! I know! A cliffhanger! Hehehe, I like being cruel. Wait, wouldn't it be nice of me to stay away from cliffhangers for a while? The others had clearly stated that they did not enjoy them... nah, why should I let them decide? This was my story, after all. Mine! But what to end it with... a comment or something poetic, good or bad, sad... choices, choices. Ah, wonderful world. Wait! I've got it!
“Finished!” I grinned and shook my arms in a winning manner.
Toron and Sturkas high-fived (or... rather high-foured) and cheered on their own, causing me to turn abruptly.
“Hey! You haven't been helping me at all this month!”
Two pairs of eyes, deep green and sparkling blue, locked with mine. A look of hurt crossed them and tears suddenly sprang from their eyes as Sturkas began to sniff pathetically. Uh oh, not that puppy dog look again... how did he even manage to pull that look off at that age?
“Hey, I-I didn't mean it like that,” I said, holding my hands up, palm out.
“Yes, you did,” Toron mumbled, placing his hand on his younger brother's back.
“You don't like us,” Sturkas sniffed.
Oh no. That's just so typical me and my big mouth. Why can't I ever just shut up? Heck, I don't mean to hurt these guys, I really do like them. I mean, when they disappeared a few days ago, who was left awake both day and night, worried sick that something had happened to them? Just when it looked like I might go completely berserk, the two of them had climbed in through my window.
I had resolved that I owed the elves one good punch for scaring me like that.
Luckily it turned out they had only made traps for the senior upper-levels, but that moment…that one moment when I had believed them dead or wounded or captured…was total and utter hell… The fear, the loss and regret… It made the blood freeze in my veins, horrifying and disturbing and nauseating and forever burned into my memory. I shook my head to clear these thoughts. My first thought when I discovered that they were gone, was that if someone had as much as breathed wrong at them when (if, my inner self (nicknamed asshole by Sturkas) corrected. I beat the crap out of it right then and there, and left it whimpering on the floor) I found them, there would be Hell to pay.
But how to say this? I held my arms out, conveying my small offer of comfort. I could not be sure they would accept my hug, but soon I found them within my embrace.
“I do care about you,” I said, nuzzling their soft necks and smiling lovingly at them.
“If a grain of sand could express my love for you, a desert would not be big enough to explain it.”
Frilly pink apron!!!! Priceless!!! Awesome story!!!
and very cute ending
YUP - I am laaaaaaate! But I'm glad that I haven't skipped this story, Tenderfoot. It is GREAT!