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October 2010 Grab-bag

faeriegirl

Here are the elements for October



-a wound

-a dance

-living dead

-cooking

-whistling leaves

-insanity



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

faeriegirl

Entry by me and Redhead: Cooking the living dead in whistling leaves, who were trying to dance after being wounded with insanity.

By Trollhammer: Cooked whistling leaves wounded the insanely dancing living dead.

Lunakat's: Cooking the living dead in whistling leaves can lead to insane dancing, which can easily get you wounded... especially if you dance around the fire.


All copied from the build-thread. Much pre-fun!

Cleopatra

Well, here's my story.





Drawn To The Darkness





Lilac had waited, waited for twenty long days. She waited for news, news that Xin-Jing and the others had found Hawkeye and were on their way home. That the enemy was coming toward them again for a new war now since the chiefs wasn’t here. Since the day Hawkeye was kidnapped by the enemy and Xin-Jing had leaved to save him, Lilac had just been walking around in the village without knowing what she could do. The only order she had been told was to wait.





But it wasn’t easy. Too worry and be waiting almost made her crazy. And what did she do while she waited? She was cooking. But she couldn’t concentrate while she cut up some meat. She couldn’t stop to think about Xin-Jing, her own daughter who was out there and searched for the enemy. While she was busy to just think about how it was with Xin-Jing and the others out there, she didn’t pay attention were the knife went.





“AAHH!” Lilac screamed as dropped the knife and put her finger in her mouth. She tasted the blood before she looked at the wound. She could barely hear the running feet approaching and Erla ran into the kitchen.





“Lilac?” Erla almost cried as she came in and ran straight to Lilac.

“What happened?”





“I just cut my finger,” Lilac said slowly between clenched teeth.





Erla could see at Lilac that there was something more that bothered her than the cut at her finger. She was sweaty at her face, her body trembled. It was obvious that she was ill.





She helped Lilac into the living room, put some firewood in the fire before she went back to the kitchen. She made a warm drink with whistling leaves that could cure Lilacs fever. Then she returned to the living room with the warm drink, clean water in a little bowl and clean pieces of cloth to bind the wound.





“This waiting just makes me crazy,” Lilac said slowly while Erla helped to clean the wound.





“I understand it,” Erla said with a calm voice as she tied the wound. The wound wasn’t deep, so it would be healed in a few days.

“I’ve been through the same thing once.”





And we’re not the only ones who are waiting, she thought while she saw that Lilac drank the warm drink. Lilac wasn’t the only one who waited for those she loved would come back. Sunshine and little Himerish waited for mate and father to return. Moonlight also waited for one elf, which actually was in love with her. The beginning of love, which might become to something more, when eyes meet eyes again.





Then it was Erla who also waited. Not only for her beloved, but also for their daughter who had disappeared a very long time ago. The loss of her hurt and it still did hurt to wake up to another day without her. But still, she had the feeling that her daughter was still alive out there and that was what gave her the hope and belief that one day, she would see and embrace her daughter in her arms again.



###########################################################################



His head hurt by thinking. He took his hands to his head and tried to hide the pain he wanted to cry out. Then he caught the movement of a hand of his eye, and Hawkeye slapped the hand to The Dark Prince away. He had the feeling that he shouldn’t trust this leader of The Dark Ones. He almost growled as his hands began to glow, and used what he had of his strength to hurt The Dark Prince.





The Dark Prince flew backwards and hit the wall before he lowered his head.





“You are really powerful,” The Dark Prince said as he smiled and lifted his head. His eyes widened a bit before he moved to the side to not get hit by Hawkeyes magic again. His hands were still glowing, his eyes showed anger. That was perfect.





“Just like your mother must have sensed!”





Hawkeye was confused.





“What?” Hawkeye said and stiffened. Then he remembered he should be careful.

“What do you know about her?”





Hawkeye almost cursed himself. Why did he ask about it? The Dark Prince hide the smile.





“Because I was nearby your tribe one day they were out hunting,” The Dark Prince said slowly and approached a few steps towards Hawkeye.

“And I saw that ‘the wise chief Optarh’ killed your parents and the rest of the tribe.”





Hawkeye gasped as he stiffened, then his body started to tremble and tried to force his tears back.





“You liar!” he shouted and used his power again against The Dark Prince, but this time he managed to defend himself. He looked at the young elf that was constantly on guard. Hawkeye trembled with anger.

“Chief Optarh would never think of killing other elves, especially his friends. And my parents died because of an accident.”





This was insanity. He knew that chief Optarh would never to something like that. He was one who helped and protected the weakest ones.





“How can you know it when you even weren’t there?” The Dark Prince said slowly. Hawkeye was going to answer, but The Dark Prince actually started to send to him. Suddenly Hawkeye could see the pictures from the sending. He saw his parents; Lavender and Lohtar, among them were Karel and many other elves from their tribe on a hunt.





They had approached the mountains, noticed a flock nightswimmers on the way up the mountain. All of them considered how they should get the pray. Then it happened, the rocks from the mountain had become loose and slid down to the elves that discovered it too late. They tried to get away, but none of them that survived the slide.





Then he saw the back of a tall elf that pulled of the hood that hides his face. He could only see the light hair that fell on his back.





Then the pictures stopped and Hawkeye stared at The Dark Prince, who hide his hands behind his back.





“It… it can’t be true,” Hawkeye said with trembling voice.





“I’m really sorry,” The Dark Prince said and slowly held his hands in the air. One of his hands held a red headband.

“But it’s true.”





Hawkeyes eyes widened, the tears showed in his eyes. He recognized that red headband, it belonged to his mother. With trembling hands he received the headband and stared down at it before he lifted it toward his face. The headband almost smelled like flowers, like it used to be when his mother lived. His tears ran down at his face and he shook with grief and anger.





“You’ll pay for this,” Hawkeye whispered furiously into the air as he stared down at the red headband. His blue eyes were now filled with hate. He didn’t notice The Dark Princes smile; everything went as he wanted.



##########################################################################



The inside of this mountain is confusing, Xin-Jing thought as she and Blindeye ran after Satekh. The tall elf had one thought in his head and possibly a chance to find out where The Dark Prince, Hawkeye and perhaps Louros were. And that thought was the throne room.





It felt like they had run for ages, but only Satekh knew that it was only moments again until they reached the throne room. He was right when he suddenly stopped in the corridor. He looked to the side and cursed silent when he saw two ninjas at the door.





“We must get rid of them if we’re going in there,” Satekh whispered to Xin-Jing and Blindeye. Xin-Jing looked toward the door.





“Only two ninjas. That shouldn’t be difficult,” she whispered before she turned to Blindeye.

“You take the ninja to the right, and I take the one to the left.”





Blindeye looked over to the ninjas before he looked back at Xin-Jing.





“Can I take the one to the left? He seems I little more easily,” Blindeye said with apologetic voice.





“Of course,” she replied quickly.



###########################################################################



Louros tried to wriggle her right foot from the chain that was attached to the The Dark Princes throne. Since the day Satekh had been revealed to have contact with Optarh, she had been chained to the throne. She hadn’t opportunities to escape while The Dark Prince was near, but now that he was away for a while, she tried to the possibility to get free from the chain.





Only the High Ones knew how it was with Satekh. While she had been chained to the throne one night, so had one of the ninjas reported to The Dark Prince that Satekh had managed to escape! Since then, The Dark Ones had been hunting after him.





Louros stopped to wriggle her foot when she heard noises outside the door. She didn’t know what happened, but it sounded like it was a fight out there. Then the sounds were gone and she could only hear the sounds of feet approaching, then the door opened. Her eyes widened when she saw who it was.





“Satekh!” she alost cried.





“Louros,” he said and ran toward her.





“Thank the High Ones. You’re here,” she said when she was in his arms and the tears ran down her face.





Xin-Jing and Blindeye was disappointed that they didn’t found Hawkeye here, and soon they were both busy too get Louros free from the chain. Once her foot was released, they asked her if she knew where The Dark Prince was. Louros replied that she didn’t know where he was. Satekh sighed before he held her by the shoulder and stared into her eyes.





“I want you to get out of the mountain. Now!” he said seriously.





“No,” she protested.

“I’m not leaving you here.”





“I can’t fail Optarh now,” he said still serious and at the same time worried.

“I have a feeling now that tells me something is wrong.”



###########################################################################



Toron let himself be surrounded by The Dark Ones and rolled his sleeves up. And slowly he pulled out his Bo Staff. Then he ran toward them and jumped over their heads and hit them from behind before he rose up. He blocked two katanas and beat the ninjas who had tried to attack him.





Sturkas crossed his arms over his head while held his Sais and blocked katanas, it held them away from his head. But yet he was almost forced down to his knees. The Dark Ones thought that he was defenseless. But they were wrong. Sturkas had noticed that there was a ninja behind him, ready to hit him from behind so he suddenly jumped quickly and was straight at his back as he swung across the two ninjas and kicked a ninja in front of them and turned back, landed on the back of the ninja who had tried to hit him. There, he used everything he had of physical strength to break the katanas with his sais and then he jumped at the two ninjas and kicked them to the ground.





But to fight against the enemy wasn’t easy, for soon more of The Dark Ones came. Everyone fought bravely, but they got beaten to the ground completely unconscious. Topaz was the last of them who fought against the ninjas. Suddenly one of the ninjas jumped toward her and kicked her at her stomach.





She lost the sword as she fell to the ground. Topaz was now defenseless, and that made the ninja pleased as he ran toward her with the katana raised, ready to end her life. Topaz lifted her head and closed her eyes as she saw the ninja and waited for the sharp blade to would come.





But suddenly she heard the sound of sword that met sword and she opened her eyes. Someone had blocked the deadly blow, and she looked up at a tall elf woman, with her silverhair tied in a long braid. Sharika.





“Something tells me that we arrived just in time,” Optarh said immediately when he came out of the darkness. He pulled out his katana.





“Shall we?” he asked after a while. The fight began again once. Arthel blocked a blow from a ninja and pushed him away with his strength while Idhrin kicked a ninja from behind with power and elegance.





Optarh grabbed a hold of the black clothes from two of the ninjas that was around him and used his physical strength to push away the rest of the ninjas and then began to spin around with the two ninjas. After to have spun a few times, almost like a dance he threw one of the ninjas and caused that the ninja fell on top of some of the ninjas and spun a second time before he threw the other ninja to rest who was standing and fell to the ground, again. There were only three ninjas back against him now, so with a bit of running speed he jumped towards them and kicked two of them before he kicked the third.





Optarh didn’t notice the hands that approaching him from behind and suddenly grabbed his shoulders and threw him away from the chiefs. He almost slipped on the floor and was far away from the others. He had some scratches at his fingertips and at his knees and once Optarh looked up, he growled when he saw who he was facing, to one who now looked like a living dead. He used to be called Anhor once, but now he was called The Dark Prince.





Optarh was quick to block a blow from The Dark Prince and was soon in a fight against him. Suddenly the warrior chief felt a powerful blow against his back and he crashed to the wall before he landed on his back and looked at The Dark Prince. It wasn’t he who had attacked him from behind. But when he looked to the side of the corridor and saw the figure standing there, his eyes widened when he saw who it was.





“Well Optarh,” The Dark Prince said slowly and satisfied.

“What do you think about your student?”





It was this Optarh had feared. That The Dark Prince would use Hawkeye to do the job for him. Hurt other elves. What once had been his kind blue eyes was now filled with hatred. Hawkeyes hands started to glow again and Optarh knew what would happen if he didn’t act quickly.

WolfMoonSky

Very nice chapter CleopatraClap

TrollHammer

Thanks for posting up the short from the 'build' thread, Faery! You're askin' for a new part time job if this keeps up, you know!



I've not taken the time to look, Cleo, do you have a "collection" thread I could go back and start from the beginning with your series? I like the combo of "martial arts meets EQ", and I've looked in on your stories from time to time, I've started in the middle, it seems. Good stories, though!

TrollHammer

For those following the series, September (still to come at the time of posting), and October's entries got switched in order. This is part 7 of Hail's Frost Valley Elves....



In his dreams, Patchsmith was led down old familiar tunnels by a strange fairy like creature in utter silence. He passed empty, deserted rooms and cross tunnels, most of which were not only unoccupied but devoid of weapons, valuables, even furniture in some cases. The surreal fuzziness surrounding everything he looked at just reinforced the thought that this was a dream he was walking though.



The creature led him down tunnel after tunnel, and Patchsmith realized they were headed out towards the valley of Elves he’d found. Was this instead some sort of after-death torment he must endure? His muddled mind weaved a tale how he would be shown all of his many failures, starting with the most grievous one that had inevitably resulted in the deaths of so many….



The creature raised a hand for him to stop, and he peered around the corner with it at what was going on. King Guttlekraw lay sleeping with his guards next to a pile of rubble sealing off the main tunnel. Smoke and dirt smudged his normally gleaming armor, and his guards appeared the worse for wear, and all were oblivious to anything around them.



He thought for a moment that perhaps he had been given the opportunity to enact vengeance on this vile Troll, and contemplated the King’s end. On the one hand he abhorred violence and murder for any reason, but then again it was a form of self preservation, since the King intended worse harm than death for him. Not just that, but he would do it again to others, so it was almost his duty to put an end to the tyrant! He’d been dead already, so if this had any effect on reality or if he was killed in the process it was for free anyway…. Besides, this is just a dream and has no real bearing on life…. If he is still alive anyway.



The thoughts circled around while he waited to see what the little creature had in mind. It had frozen like a statue, watching for whatever reason. A small amount of excitement built up, and he found himself getting antsy having to just stand and wait for no apparent reason. He eyed the dagger that had fallen from a guard’s belt.



Time passed. Even in this dream, waiting seemed to take forever. Patchsmith feared he might wake up before he found what the dream was about or at least feel some sort of vindication if this was his last few moments before he awoke…. He stepped out around the corner and quickly closed the distance between he and the dagger. Soundlessly, he picked it up and tiptoed over to the old king and leaned over him. Guttlekraw’s rasping maw, with its wrinkled and cracked lips, yellowed and uneven teeth, and mottled green gums looked like the pit of death itself, as though this ancient warlord had been dead for centuries, consuming dead things to sustain it.



A twist of disgust gripped Picknose’s gut and he slid the dagger up between his throat and his armor. His gaze did not break as he looked passed the rotten looking nose at the lids covering those beady eyes. Eyes that would hardly flinch as someone lost their head, even a family member! Eyes that would drink in the torment of a slave as it was beaten to death. Eyes that hungered for power, control, and depravity. This was the moment when Guttlekraw’s victims would be avenged, that one of those that had been beaten, perhaps killed, would strike back against this vile creature! A simple movement, performed time and time again day to day, and there would be no more suffering, no more wrong! A simple slice, as though Patchsmith were just gathering roots….



His hand would not move, however. The blade would not pierce that ancient flesh as Patchsmith learned something new about himself. Something he probably should have known all his life: No matter what this despicable creature had done to him, Patchsmith was no murderer. He could no more force himself to become like this tyrant to put an end to him than he could become an Elf. He was a creator, not a destroyer! Revulsion now, at himself, formed a pit in his stomach as he realized what he could have done just now.



The wingless Preserver had snapped out of its trance and had joined Patchsmith at the king’s side. The preserver’s hand reached for the blade of the dagger and for a moment Patchsmith thought the creature would attempt to cut the king’s throat itself! Instead, however, he eased the blade away from the King’s throat and pulled it safely away. It would seem that the Preserver had formed its own conclusion to the dilemma and chose as Patchsmith had to be better than this one before them.



The eyes that hadn’t blinked at the thought of leaving hundreds of loyal solders behind to be slaughtered fluttered open. They gazed for a moment at the ceiling of the tunnel before coming to focus on Patchsmith. It was moments still later before he realized that a prisoner was at his side holding a dagger….



The Preserver had already bolted away, however, and had made some sort of attempt to tug at Patchsmith’s finger to come with it. The tinkerer was already turning away as Guttlekraw bellowed in alarm at his guards. Even with the sheer cave-rattling volume of the King’s voice the guards took their time to stagger to their feet, as tired as they were.



Patchsmith realized that this, indeed, had not been the dream he was wishing for now….



***



Hail would have sympathized with Patchsmith had he known the truth about the gentle giant. As it was, he was forced to flee as well… in a manner of speaking. Cliff had made a judgment call and had picked up both Hail and Blueriver as he left the battle. Perhaps he could have stayed to fight, protecting the pair until one of them was strong enough to help the other, but he had decided that it was far less risky to take them off to the safety of the cliffs.



He hauled the limp bodies back up the valley to the heights of the cliffs there. He did not know if these “Trolls” could climb, but it would be far harder than walking right up to them. Even if they found one of the few paths up the cliff-side it would take quite some time… time, perhaps, enough for one of them to recover.



With his own last shreds of strength, Cliff laid the Elves on a smooth rock before collapsing in a heap next to them. The trio had been fighting nonstop all night, since nightfall, and besides the occasional boost from Blueriver none of them had had even a moment’s break! All that Blueriver’s aid had done, though, was sap her strength into exhaustion. She had not even slept since working on Cliff… …just yesterday?



Even at this height the sounds of battle could be heard faintly from all over the valley. The sticky haze of smoke hung just below the cliffs around the valley, and it was just starting to become visible to the Elves’ guardian as day began to break. Down under that haze the Elves that had not been killed or had not escaped were starting to rally against the diminishing number of Trolls, but it still looked bleak for them. Battle hardened Trolls, twice the mass of any Elf, had no compunction against indiscriminate killing, laid waste to any Elf regardless of age or sex with ruthless efficiency, but the peaceful Elves were on their home turf, and knew every rock and tree they could hide in. Once a few bands of Elves met up they would pick off lone Trolls en mass, overwhelming them relatively easily.



The problem was that the lone Trolls were becoming fewer and fewer. Those that weren’t done in by Elves were joining up with larger squads of warriors enraged either by news that their King had abandoned them, or that some other facet of the plan had gone awry. Small, unarmed, and untrained, the Elves had no way to fight back against the larger numbers, even with their stealthy advantage of sending.



There were a few strong magic users left, though they were scattered among the three or four groups of Elves: a few healers, a stone shaper, and a wood shaper. Some of the stronger senders attempted to coordinate a rendezvous, but it was a painstaking effort to keep everyone safe from the marauders roaming about seeking their blood. It was a time in which even the lesser magic users gave their all, especially the healers, trying their best to keep the wounded alive.



The problem was that those without a certain level of magic placed their effort in other talents, such as farming, leaving the bulk of the magical work to the more powerful Elves. As such, they had no practice in what little ability they had, other than perhaps to feel a stone’s location (to plow around), cause pain to diminish (until an injury, usually their own, could be taken to a healer), or perhaps hasten a crop or two to ripen just that much sooner when the frost comes. Beyond that, making tools or weapons were beyond their capability.



What was worse, there were many without the ability to send! Some were deaf and mute, while some others were just mute, as there was little reason to send, the way the culture had developed in this valley. Most kept to themselves, and families were within a shout of their house…. Well, usually. Hail had always been the exception, dragging Blueriver along with him from time to time.



The morning wore on, the din of battle fading to just the occasional dwelling being pillaged and burned. A few of those Elves that had some weak aptitude with plants found their meager talents useful when several wounded were found weaker than their injuries justified. It seemed that the Trolls had added poison to their blades and arrows, and these “plant finders” were able to seek out the rare and exotic Whistling Leaves to fend off the toxin. Most of the Trolls had formed into to major groups: one at the mouth of the Valley, and the other reattempting the original plan, making their way back up the valley to make another slow, careful sweep. Besides these two groups, the misshapen forms that had once made up the Destroyer took random action. Uncoordinated in their exploits, they hardly made any kind of progress in their original goal of eradication. As it was, some were dying of their wounds, or due to the way the magic had twisted them. Some had plundered on aimlessly until stopped by some obstacle, too used to following the pack they had been a part of. Still others formed packs of three or four, followers and a leader, and these did the most damage when they encountered something that could be attacked, with the exception of the three smaller masses that had fell away from the original whole. With the exception of these, in total there were between six and eight eights of warriors from the original force left to menace the surviving Elves.



The original monster had been made up of close to one hundred volunteers, all hardened warriors that had been hunting and hating Elves all their lives. Before they had become the Destroyer they had been formed into a single attacking unit: front line soldiers, squad leaders, and five chiefs, forming a chain of command. These five chiefs agreed on the interpretation of the King’s orders and the strategy that would be used to carry it out. In all, that fighting force had been mighty, with not a single loss in the years of hunting. They would even practice their battle drills on humans when Elves could not be found, just to hone their skill. Little was known or told about this as they would usually wipe out an entire tribe in such training, and no Troll left or was added once the mob had been assembled.



When the King of that time took that group and returned to the Palace to gain an edge on the Elves, to prolong their lives and more, years had passed and the hope of bringing an end to the Elves started to become bleak. It was agreed, with the promise of long life, to form the Destroyer, that each individual would sacrifice themselves to the goal of the whole. Each chief took an Element: a Troll modified piece of the material of the palace itself, and formed a circle around the binding machine. Around them their squads formed ranks, forever to be bound and lead by their superiors. The machine, empowered by a warped shunt formed from out of the Palace, was engaged and the Destroyer was formed.



After Cliff’s attack, the bonds between Chiefs were severed, and the solders broke away. The portion that had been one of those chiefs had been killed earlier by Cliff’s initial blow and another under was maimed by his flame, but the remaining chiefs remained bound to their squad leaders. It was these three remaining masses, enraged beyond sanity, which now redoubled their efforts to put an end to this Elvin menace.



Unfortunately, for them at least, their overall ability to inflict damage was severely diminished. They were used to making the decisions, not carrying them out, and with their arms splayed upwards they looked like walking trees, having to bend to interact with anything on the ground. When the Destroyer came apart, the parts of it had pulled apart along the grain they had been fused in, splintering like a trunk. The outer, surrounding part had been mostly soldiers, with their arms and legs out where they could do the most damage…. But these bumbling “Troll trees” could do little more than stomp their victims.



Not that this wasn’t enough! Massing as much as five well trained warriors, an Elf would have little chance of surviving a stampede if one of them had come across such hapless prey. The Elves were well informed at this point, so when one of these more dangerous abominations was encountered the Elves would give it wide berth.



The morning passed into mid-day and the sun finally started to break through the smoke hanging over the valley. A lull seemed to have settled in with a couple dozen Troll warriors being the only movement as they marched up the valley. This time, instead of hitting the whole valley at once, they would have to slowly work through it on the way down, but there was little else to do! Several of the Trolls that had tried to escape into the tunnels had come back, reporting that most or all of the paths back home were sealed shut, that they were, indeed, abandoned and left for dead. So it was not out of duty to their King, but more out of rage and frustration that they were rallying their fight. These Elves would pay for this predicament.



The smoke had worked to the Trolls favor up to this point, protecting them from the scorching rays of the sun. The battle was to be complete before day broke and many had not brought their blinders to help them see in this daylight. A blinder was a strip of wood or bone with slits in it to protect the eyes from the blinding snow during day battles with the other Elves. With the fires dieing down and the wind blowing the smoke away, there was no place but the trees to hide from the sun. Their armor protected their flesh, but they were mostly blind in this light, the search and destroy effort greatly hampered.



The Elves still had a problem, for the most part. They were still caught between two crushing walls of Troll Warriors, with random viscous elements roaming about in the space between, all of which sought their blood. They were still able to relax a bit more than they could the previous night, when their attackers or the warning call drove them from their beds. A few sendings went out to the settlements they passed on their way down the valley, still intent on breaking out to the freedom of the forests below. From a strategic point of view, the valley would have been the perfect place to set up a well defended stronghold: a narrow opening, un-scaleable cliffs to either side (even if enemy got up there, they couldn’t attack without going to one end of the valley or the other), plenty of farmland within and an escape route to the rear…. But these Elves were not strategists, and had not met battle with anyone for a time longer than anyone could remember to realize this or the fact that even such a stronghold would have been defenseless against the tunneling Trolls.



Had they known about the escape routes up through the cliffs that Hail and Blueriver scouted the last few moons, the might have pushed on ahead of the Trolls and perhaps came across those two Elves and their protector, who was waiting patiently for them to awake. Cliff had kept close to them as he foraged for food and wood, knowing that at least Hail preferred his meat cooked before he consumed it, and Cliff assumed that Blueriver probably held the same preference.



The smell of the cookfire gradually overcame the stench of the battlefires that hung in Hail's nose, and he groggily awoke, tired, but otherwise none the worse for wear. He rolled over, bleary eyed, and looked at the morsels hanging there, the fire spitting as the meat dripped juices into it.



"Wow, Cliff, cookin' for us now, huh? You're too good a friend, you know it?" Hail realized how hungry he was as his empty stomach lurched at the sight of the meal sizzling in front of him.



"Friend Hail, are you awake enough and strong enough to stand guard? I am spent!" Cliff inquired.



"...uh, sure..." Hail shook his head, trying to shrug off his stupor and remember why Cliff would be so tired, and why Blueriver was sleeping nearby.... Why they were even there in the first place? "Go ahead, I think I'm ok..."



Cliff didn't even shift into a more comfortable position, his head simply dropped as fast as his eyes shut. **Look after Blueriver, she is more fatigued than I....** Hail sensed that the thought hadn't even been complete before Cliff the world of the waking.



Confused, Hail pulled a strip of meat from the haunch on the spit before turning back to Blueriver. Munching away, he looked her over, trying to see what Cliff had meant: Her tangled hair, smudged face, torn clothing.... shallow breathing... ...darkening bruises...



He tossed the meat aside, hunger forgotten, and took a closer look. It appeared as though she had been pummeled, as though she'd been hit with a rock slide, or maybe beaten up in a fight... but it seemed that he'd dreamed something like that happening to himself....



What was going on here? Looking at his own torn and filthy clothes, Cliff's many scrapes and chipped claws it seemed that this battle he'd dreamed of had actually took place... and Hail's heart sank as he looked back toward Frost Valley to find lingering wisps of smoke wandering into the sky in the noonday sun.



But what had happened? He had vague recollections of Blueriver passed out after being chased, and Cliff crushing attackers in a clearing.... a twisted form coming out of the night and knocking him down, wailing on him with unnatural strength.... the dream got blurry then... Hail remembered the sensation of being lifted from the ground, shaky claws carefully surrounding his broken body, and the pain! Pain he could not bare! He could see nothing, and the dream skipped around at that point, but he found himself on the ground again, the pain slowly draining away and replaced with a warm comfort, like the tired feeling he got after a long climb.



Blinking, he realized that this whole thing had not been a dream, but vague perceptions of reality, but this tired warmth... it was not like any healing he'd ever experienced! Usually a healing had some lingering reminder of the injury, a sense that the damaged tissue had grown back to normal quite normally, but accelerated and guided by the healer. This was something different... like the injuries had be snatched away completely, as if they had never been!



Looking again at Blueriver's injuries, he put things together and realized she had absorbed his injuries, effectively taking his place and sacrificing herself for him! His mind raced with emotions and thoughts, not understanding why she would do this, nor how, as he'd never heard of such a thing, thankful to her, but pained that she had.... He did not know what to do at this point, other than to try to make her more comfortable and begin to try and send to her, to see if she could take some of his strength to fight this.



He tried to coax a response from her, but it was like sending to a tree… No, a tree had more response than this, but she didn’t feel dead either, not like the voids he felt here and there back in the valley, where homes and families should have been. He tried again, in case she could actually hear him but wasn’t able to spend effort to reply. He urged her to pull strength from him, to send his injuries back to him, whatever it took to survive! As it was, her ashen face bore the look of the dead: dark sunken eyes, not a hint of color in her face… he could not even feel her breath when he knelt close.



He thought about the events harder. Cliff had carried them up here after they had both been knocked out. Blueriver had been spending her strength healing Cliff and himself, as well as feeding them strength, so she’d exhausted herself AND taken Hail’s injuries. Cliff had carried them both everywhere, fought the Destroyer, carried trees, and spent his flame battling the Trolls, then carried them up here and watched guard and hunted until Hail had awaken! His exhaustion would be on par with Blueriver’s, it would seem.



He looked over to his friend to make sure he was still breathing, or had some sign of life. Cliff lay still for such a long time Hail almost went to check on him, but as a rather large fly landed on Cliff’s ear, the ear twitched to shoo it away.



Hail shook his head, disbelieving that anyone would risk and spend so much of themselves on his behalf, either to save him or to help him right the wrong he’d done, bringing Trolls to the valley!



***



Of the King’s guards that remained, only one stood before Guttlekraw, tempted to duck and dodge the spittle that flew at him from the enraged tyrant. A few of the guards had been beaten to death after they had failed to capture or kill the Traitor, and their bodies were being carried away by other guards, leaving the odd duck behind: One who had been smart enough to elude death at the hands of his King, but dull witted enough to stay behind while there was work that could be done.



The Traitor had run, following the wingless Preserver down a series of abandoned mining tunnels. At some point, however, the hulking figure of the Traitor had disappeared without a trace, his footprints disappearing in middle of the tunnel, not even leaving so much as a whisper behind.



The guards, having failed in their duty in protecting the King, were beaten dead or senseless, according to the King’s favor, as soon as the mines had been imploded and they had returned to the throne room.



Presently, the King felt fatigue creep in again as he spewed forth a torrent of profanity and threats at this lone guard, who dared not mention that he’d not even been with the King through the whole ordeal, that his shift had just started. He’d rather sustain a little drool in the face if it meant he would survive the shift to return home again! He almost let out a sigh of relief when the King finally settled into his throne and dozed off, a half eaten drumstick in hand that he’d wielded like a club while delivering his speech. When his characteristic slobbering snore began to roar through the chamber, the lone guard finally turned, took his station, and fought the urge to imagine what it might have been like to have been the Traitor, holding that dagger at the King’s throat….



He couldn’t fight it any longer… in his mind, he slid that cold blade deep into that grizzly flesh and felt the warm blood spew out onto his hands…

Cleopatra

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Very nice chapter CleopatraClap





Thank you Wolfie.Hug



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I've not taken the time to look, Cleo, do you have a "collection" thread I could go back and start from the beginning with your series? I like the combo of "martial arts meets EQ", and I've looked in on your stories from time to time, I've started in the middle, it seems. Good stories, though!





Well I've some links in my own art thread. I need to fix more links there, but I don't have time next week since my family and me are in Italy then.

faeriegirl

Whee! reading stories instead of studying for my exam is goooooddd!!! Happy

Very nice chappie, Cleo!! Can't wait for the next one!! Hope they will be able to tell Hawkeye it wasn't Optarh who did it before he kills anyone!! Please tell me twin-brother had a good reason for shoving those stones????????

Very good chapter, Trollhammer! Wonder when Blueriver will wake, and how? And where the heck did Patchsmith go??

Tymber, yours is a treat like every month. Windfetcher is sooo cute... and that poor human. I guess we will see more of him... not able to handle the non-existence of magic for him, he might turn completely insane Unhappy

RedheadEmber

Mindloss



Deep amongst

these whistling leaves,

where sunlight seldom dances,

fate has cooked a wound.

All those years of living dead

has caused insanity.

faeriegirl

Nice one, Redhead!

WolfMoonSky

Very nice stories and poem everyone!! Happy

TrollHammer

Cool Tymber! Looks like things are shaping up! A new tribe, breaking from tradition, working its way through thier first real challenge.
Windfetcher's angst echos that of Ember as she began to grasp what it meant to lead, however she is assuming that a wolf friend defines a person here. Will she become obsessed with this ideal, perhaps ironically missing some opertunity for a bond beast, or will she learn as others have in the past that some things take time or take forms we dont immediatly recognize? It will also be interesting to find out if we see the human again, if he learns something as well or if Shadow's plan backfires into a new fight.

TrollHammer

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I know I have said it with every story you write; but your sense of detail is, and always has been, very incredible. This is something I definitely need to learn from you to pick up my writing skills. I tend to always just focus on the story itself, and forget the small details that really fill the reader's head with details. Too often I forget that the reader can't see what I visualize in my head as I write. Filling in the small details always helps lure the reader into your world; and you sir, do this with excellence.




I thank you for your kind words! Things have been shaky in life lately and I find writing thereputic, but as it also takes time there are moments that I feel like walking away from it and using that time to focus on other things..., but I keep coming back and can't stay away when I hear that the effort is appriciated!



As far as tips and all for what its worth, there's two or three things that I feel effect my writing in the way you seem to enjoy....

You mention visualization, and as you already mentioned its just a manner of describing what you see in words. The problem I have is the consept of the picture being worth a thousand words... sometimes I have to step back when I start dwelling on a point and chop a few lines out. I feel too many words can be just as bad as too few.

On the cheating side of things.... there are times that I will be going over some part of the story that I realize I've used a descriptor or other word too much, so I'll change a word so I'm not using the same phrase over and over. Further, when I get stumped on what word feels right, I right-click and use the thesaurus.... When story-writing this doesn't always work, as the computer is a little cold or doesn't understand the creative aspect, but even though there's times I play with a word for five minutes it's worth it to me. Who wants to read:



The Destroyer destroyed the house, destroying all that was inside... the destruction included all the furnature and those that lived in it. It also destroyed the food....



when it could be like this:



The Destroyer flattened the house, crushing all that was inside... the (I'd use the thesaurus on this one as I can't get the word to feel right off the top of my head, somthing meaning "utter destruction or mayhem") included all the furnature and those that lived within the structure. Even the food was ruined....



(that was excessive, but gets the point across)



The other two things are that I read alot when I was little. I started reading Edgar Rice Burroughs (my spelling is actually atrocous, hurrah for the spell checker!) when I was 4, following the tale of John Carter on Mars all the way through every year or so.... the origional tarzan as he made his way back to civilization and returned as king of the jungle.... I also followed many other authors over the years, different series. I have to confess a problem of mine: I become the characters in the story, feeling what they feel, seeing what they see, and find myself physically reacting to what is going on in the story. (have to snip, ran out of time)

Cleopatra

Okey I got time to read all the stories, so here's the comments.



TrollHammer, your story was great. I espacially liked the scene of Hail and Blueriver.



Tymber, love your story and that we also got to know more about the new characters. And I loved the end of the story with Windfetcher.



Redhead Ember, really nice poem.

TrollHammer

Thanks for taking the time to read it!



Well... Some good and bad news, depending on how you want to take it....



I was planning on doing an October special with Willderbeast and Goat Biter (not a regular, but my editor type person from time to time that live locally), kinda halloweeny grab bag type thing...



It turned into a new series, and I wasn't all that concerned about meeting the month's requirements... and as it's the next to the last day of the month and I won't have access to a computer I can write on, it's looking like the first half of the first part is going to get pushed to its own thread later today. This will actually be a kind of a good thing as it'll work into some of other holiday specials I started last year.



If you guys want it can be adapted to fit the month, though, and I can repost it here next week or so.



Any suggestions, comments, COMPLAINTS, and the like can be directed to (at) me. Looks like it'll be another longish read like Lodestone was last Dec.... with another part and a half planned so far.

faeriegirl

Inspiration finally struck, last night. Here's my contribution Smile

The Longest Night
For Go-backs, the Longest Night had special meaning. This night, the world died, and was reborn. The Go-backs celebrated this with a dance. They would collect whistling leaves during the day because these leaves vocalize the dying cries of the world. All of the big green leaves would be squashed, to get the juice out. A part of this sticky, green juice would be added to the meat for cooking. Because of this, the meat would be more intoxicating than dreamberries when eaten. The rest of the juice would be used to smear on their naked bodies, to truly become one with the dying world.

After dinner, the Go-backs would start dancing round the fire. Slowly at first, but increasing in speed as the night wears on. There would be singing, and waving with spears. Softly humming, a few of the Go-backs would rub all the leftovers of the juice on themselves and the others.

Often, some of the spears would be woven around too enthousiastically, and wound one of the dancers. But in the heat of the dance, it was never noticed. Dancing on, faster and faster, ever round and round, dancing, singing, dying with the world.

In the middle of the night, they would all go out in the snow, and wash each other with the cold white snow. With the removal of the whistling leaves juice, they would be reborn, just like the world would be reborn this night. The children would be sent to bed after this rebirth, and their parents would add another element to the rebirth. Almost everybody would visit everybody’s furs that night, hopefully creating new life this night as well.

Cleopatra

Nice story faeriegirl Thumbs_up

faeriegirl

Glad you like! Smile

RedheadEmber

Wonderful snippet fairy. Like the idea of the Go-Backs celebrating the reneval of life.